I love to bake but one of the struggles I've had in the past was finding an affordable good quality alcohol-free vanilla extract. I've tried some vanilla powders that were white which immediately tells you that it's not real vanilla. I've tried some high end vanilla powder which was great but it's not readily available where I live and it's pretty pricey. Actual vanilla beans aren't a good alternative as they are expensive and I bake quite often. So I was very excited when Blossom & Bean started selling alcohol-free vanilla extract.
For those of you who haven't heard of Blossom & Bean, they are a Halal candy store located in Toronto.
They sell British chocolates, gummy candies and marshmallows as well. I have been using their vanilla extract ever since they started selling it. There are actual pieces of vanilla bean in it and you can see the vanilla seeds in the extract as well. Recently I was at their store to pick up a bottle and was chatting with Lindsay, owner of Blossom & Bean. When she asked if I would do a review of their vanilla extract, I immediately said yes because it was something I regularly use and love!
The next day I made an Upside Down Pineapple Cake with the vanilla extract. Recently Bilal had been constantly asking me to make an Upside Down Pineapple Cake. He even told me how to make it...first you wash your hands and then pull the leaves out. His instructions ended there. I had no idea where he had heard of this cake before since I've never made it and he's never eaten it before. He told me he saw it on TV and now he wanted to try it. So I searched online for recipes and came across this recipe from Joy of Baking. The first time I made it, he barely ate any. I guess he wasn't in the mood because it turned out really well! I made it again recently and he agreed it was really good.
A good quality vanilla can take your desserts from good to great. You can order Blossom & Bean's Vanilla extract online, pick some up at Kaamilah located in Scarborough or Modah in Mississauga.
Upside Down Pineapple Cake
Adapted from Joy of Baking
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 pineapple, sliced (fresh or canned, fresh will give better results), drained and patted dry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Blossom & Bean Vanilla Extract
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch pan with 3-inch sides with baking spray. My pan had a little less than 3 inch sides so when baking I placed it on a baking sheet to catch any spills. Luckily none occurred.
In a saucepan, add the butter and brown sugar. Cook this over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook the mixture until bubbles form at the edges. Remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan. Arrange the pineapple on top of this.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Add the flour in three additions alternating with milk. After each addition, mix until just combined.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold into the cake batter in two additions. Transfer to the cake pan with the pineapple. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully invert cake onto serving plate.
Disclosure: I received a free sample to try. All opinions are my own.