(How) do you use ground vanilla?

Do you use ground vanilla (or vanilla powder)? How do you use it?

It’s often said that ground vanilla or vanilla powder is good for baking. As I tried to develop a vanilla-cardamom cake, I realized that I really don’t like ground vanilla…

  1. There’s no way to know what quality of vanilla bean is used to make ground vanilla. Even “grade A” seems to encompass an increasingly wide range of qualities.
  2. Vanilla pods are very fibrous. That’s why recipes call for extract, caviar, or steeped pods. I find that ground vanilla remains fibrous after cooking, often increasing in bulk, leaving unpleasing fiber chunks.
  3. Vanilla powder changes the texture, or crumb, of delicate desserts. The fibers can weigh down flour based desserts, creating an unpleasant mouth feel. According to my taste tester: “I bite down on juicy string bits, like orange juice pulp”. Not what you want in a delicate vanilla-cardamom cake.

How do you use it?

Tags: ,