1 March 2015

New Flavours for Baking by Taylor Colledge


I recently received, completely out of the blue, an interesting surprise – six extract pastes by Taylor & Colledge, the chaps who make the wonderful vanilla grinder (and other superb vanilla products) I wrote about earlier. 

This new range of extract pastes consists of Lavender, Coconut, Almond, Lemon and Peppermint plus Vanilla Bean with Seeds (yippee!)  With the exception of vanilla none of the pastes are sweetened which is a good thing as they won’t unbalance the sweetness of any recipe you might be using and they can be used for savoury dishes!

I thought I’d firstly try one basic recipe with 6 variations and it didn't take me long to come up with ice cream!  This is because I know a way of making truly luscious no-churn ice cream with no machine, hardly any time or effort and no need to mash the stuff as it freezes. Using this “genius” recipe I have made numerous delicious ices and desserts and have sold them to acclaim in high end restaurants so please don’t think that it's in any way a compromise. This is, of course, the recipe I used today to make the following ice creams ...


If you are observant you may notice that several of these contain alcohol.  This is for two reasons; 1) I like it and, more importantly 2) adding alcohol is one way of making sure your homemade ice cream is soft, creamy, scoopable and with a good mouth feel. There are alternatives such as flavoured syrups and other sugary additions all of which I go into in details in my ice cream eBook which actually costs less than a carton of ice cream! 

Anyhoo, I enjoyed testing the ice creams so much I thought I ought to try another recipe, I made shortbread.

Genius Shortbread Recipe  

Basically shortbread is one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour so I decided to work in imperial first and then convert to metric.  So 2 oz sugar, 4 oz butter, 6 oz flour =
55g caster sugar
110g soft butter
175g plain flour
plus any other flavourings

~   Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/170ºC fan/gas 5.
~   Cream together the sugar and butter till light (both colour and texture) and fluffy.
~   Stir or slowly whisk in the flour and flavourings. The dough barely comes together but works when you give it a little gentle help with your hands.
~   Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1cm thick and cut into shapes.
~   Chill in the fridge for a few minutes if you have time and space – if not, no worries!
~   Bake till pale golden brown – about 15 minutes.
~   Cool on a wire rack.

This made 14 shortbreads which I cut into different shapes so that I could tell which was which!

  
My Thoughts and Findings ...

Firstly I think in all cases you might need a little more extract than it says on the packet so, as always, it is important to taste as you go.  

The pastes are not soluble as I found out when trying to make mint tea and I think this is due to the use of gum tragacanth, which is insoluble, as a thickener. So whilst good for baking the pastes may not be perfect for other uses. Tragacanth does seem to be much used in cake decorating as a stabiliser so probably if you fancy some tasty icing these pastes would be ideal.

On the plus side both tragacanth and xanthan gum contribute to a rich, smooth texture which is certainly a boon when making ice cream or other creamy desserts, frostings and fillings.


Vanilla

This was as lovely as all Taylor & Colledge’s excellent vanilla products are.  The ice cream was good and the shortbreads tasted just how shortbread should; my real man thought they were more like Danish Butter Cookies but nothing wrong with that!

Other ideas for vanilla ... are almost endless, at least in the sweet department!




Lavender

I don’t personally feel that lavender is a very foodie flavour although I have used it before in ice cream which was well received by posh customers! 

When adding lavender to baked goods, cupcakes for instance, it is useful to bear in mind that honey is a great compliment.


Coconut

Naturally, because of my lovely past life in the islands, when I think of coconut I automatically think of rum but it wouldn’t mix in. Sad! I’m going to try a little in my Moose Milk next time it’s a cold night (this evening for instance).

Add a modicum to rice; I was thinking savoury to go with curries and so on but probably it’d be good in rice pudding too!



Peppermint

In addition to baking try mixing some into softened butter to serve on peas or new potatoes.





Almond

This has a good almond flavour which would go really well, as almonds do with cherries.  Here is a recipe for Cherry Clafouti and although I've never thought of flavouring the batter before I think next time I might add some of this paste.


Lemon

For me this one is both a little artificial tasting and also a bit surplus to requirements. I always have fresh lemons to hand and imagine anyone interested in cooking will do too. Having said that if you haven’t got fresh this would be a good substitute for a background lemon taste but I don’t think it is pure enough to play a major role in a dish.



These pastes are new on the market and may not, yet, be easy to get hold of although I see that Amazon.co.uk are expecting some in soon.



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