Wednesday, June 17, 2009

nothin' says vanilla, like vanilla bean

It appears flour prices are on the move, in the wrong direction. Soy products climbing as well. Nothing like twelve months ago.

We've been selling a lot of custard cups lately. Even have had orders for them over the last couple days. It's just plain old egg custard, nothing special. I guess we do two things different, we add sour creme to our custard filling and we use organic Mexican vanilla. The idea for the sour creme came from a Jewish recipe for noodle kugel. We've never made it here but I saw it made in a Jewish bakery I used to work at. Long time ago, 1976, I worked at Konopov's bakery on Devon Ave. Busy place, made lots and lots of bagels, bialy's, kaiser rolls, bulkies, man they cranked it out. Had a whole bunch of guys makin' bread and pastry products and one lonely guy making all the cookies and cakes. They made nice stuff. I worked there over a Passover season. That's where I learned our line of Passover goods. Anyway, Bob, the cake baker would make noodle kugel. He would simply boil egg noodles and drain them, place them in a deep roasting pan and pour the custard mix over the noodles and bake it. When it went to the store they would cut it in squares and sell it by the pound.
We blend eggs, milk, sugar, sour creme, salt and vanilla. We pour it into individual foil cups, sprinkle the top with nutmeg and bake them. We also make bread pudding, same way, we put chunks of day old bread in the cups add a few raisins and pour them with custard. We sprinkle them with cinnamon before we bake them.

They didn't use upscale vanilla at Konopov's. Not many places do. The vanilla we use is the same vanilla I used in Paris, during the Coupe. As a team we tried many, many vanillas'. We all agreed that Mexican Vanilla had the most aroma and the best flavour. We buy our beans from the same outfit. Really nice stuff. We use the beans in our pastry creme and almond creme. We scrape out the pods and add the pod to the filling as it is cooking. Once it is cooked, we remove the pod, wash them off and bury them in sugar. They will dry and get brittle. We pour the whole deal into a food processor and run it to break up the brittle pieces and then sift them out leaving vanilla infused sugar. We use this vanilla sugar for our palmiers, monkey buns and we coat our stollen with it during the winter holidays.

Don't bother askin' at the grocery store bakery what they do with their scraped out vanilla pods. I'm sure the person behind the counter will send you to customer service. Save yourself some time and cut out the middle man by going straight to customer service.


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