Baking equipment on test Best for Baking

Best for Baking : A quick word about vanilla essence.

Last week I had a big shaped cake to make for a friend who I hadn’t seen in ages. She had seen my posts on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies facebook pages and wanted me to make her son’s 6th birthday cake (more on that next week). Everything went wrong! I needed to make three individual cakes for the design and I ran out of loads of ingredients when the first cake flopped. It flopped BIG TIME!  The 6″ cake was more pancake than Madeira cake! And that was just the first small cake.

After discovering that my back-up cupboard was bare. How did that happen?  I took a third trip to the supermarket and got the vanilla essence I needed for the buttercream. I haven’t had to buy vanilla essence for ages as my mum bought me a catering size one 500ml! which as you can imagine lasted a lifetime and I was also given one of these bottles of Nielsen- Massey Vanilla extract at a press launch. Now that stuff is expensive but the taste makes it well worth while, so I kept it for special cakes.

So, back to Sainsburys I went and grabbed one of their small bottles of vanilla essence. I only needed a drop or two as it was just to add flavour to the buttercream filling, but those drops make all the difference. I bought Madagascan Vanilla Extract from their Taste the difference range.

“Aromatic vanilla extract produced using essential oils extracted from Madagascan vanilla pods”

….. it says on the bottle. It also says it has to be stored in the fridge once it’s opened. ‘Best before June 2013’- I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It will probably be gone before October 2012!

I wasn’t expecting it to be any different to any other budget essence. I was wrong. It is delicious. So delicious that I thought I had to share it with you guys. I don’t like buttercream that much. In truth I tend to scrape it off of cakes and just eat the sponge but I know I am in the minority there. But the buttercream I made with this extract was the best ever!  I couldn’t leave it alone. I wish they sold the extract in larger bottles. 38ml isn’t going to last very long with the amount of cakes and bakes I do.

I now can’t wait to test it out on some other bakes. Who knows what it will do to a cake or a cookie! Only time will tell…. in about an hour when the cake that’s in my oven is ready to taste. Watch this space. I’ll let you know how I get on.


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EmmaMT from

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  1. Hi.
    Emma hi. Can you please tell me why a cake cannot come out well, when you were talking about the vanilla essence, how the cake went bad. For a professional baker what was the cause, because when I hear such from experts like you, I get scared because am just starting.

    1. EmmaMT from says:

      Hello Pat,

      I’m not a professional baker. I just do it a lot and it’s become a big time hobby for me. I have flops just like anyone else. Usually when I am not paying proper attention to what I am doing, like trying to weigh out ingredients when the kids are around or the radios on (that’s a big distraction for me) or if I don’t have the right ingredients and just make it up as I go along. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
      Most of my flops have been due to my oven not being at the right temperature (hence I always use my oven thermometer now) or I open the door too soon.

      In all, it’s just a learning curve and you have to just go with the flow. Even my biggest flops get eaten. They may not look pretty but they sure taste good!

      I’d say just go for it and have some fun.


  2. Hi, I usually use normal vanilla extract but when I went to the supermarket they only had madagascan vanilla extract, which looks syrupy and thick compared to the normal vanilla extract I use.. so do I still use the same quantity of madagascan as normal vanilla extract? Or do I use less madagascan? Is madagascan vanilla extract stronger tasting? I’ve never used it before.


    1. EmmaMT from says:


      You can use the Madagascan extract in exactly the same way as a regular vanilla extract. Just stick to what the recipe states. Madagascan vanilla essence has a much more natural flavour and really adds to a cake’s taste.

      I hope that helps


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