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View Full Version : A question for the Bakers


thansal
04-11-2012, 07:42 PM
So, I know there are a couple bakers (and a number of other sorts of food geeks) out there in CS land.

I'm currently trying to do some research on extracts, in my case it's for ice cream making. I know they are fairly common in baking (most of the ones I have seen are labeled as baking extracts), and I have some fairly generic questions about them:

Obviously, what's a good company/place to buy them? What has mainly been holding back from simply experimenting is that they are damn expensive. I mean, $4 for 1 oz is kinda expensive, especially when I'm not sure of the quality, or how much I will need for making a quart of ice cream. I mean, if I only need a teaspoon or so, that's not so bad, but if it's a tablespoon or 2 that's only 1 or 2 batches per oz.

So, obviously, what can I expect to pay for good ones? I have seen prices ranging all over the damn place, from about $1 an oz, to way to damn much an oz (though these are generally "gift packs" or some crap). If I find a flavor I really like can I buy it in large quantities for a good price?

What flavors are good/bad/work well/don't?

Oh, and if any one has actually used them for ice cream, all the better, shoulders of giants etc.

Thanks :)

lupo pazzesco
04-11-2012, 07:51 PM
I pay about $7 for 2 oz pure vanilla extract. Higher end is higher price, and it also depends on where the vanilla is from. Mexican? Tahitian? Madagascar? Sometimes price reflects quality.

Of course, you could always go the make it yourself route. 2-3 vanilla beans in 1 cup vodka, leave in the pantry for a month and you have your own vanilla extract. I think the same could be done with other flavors, but that's the only extract I know how to make.

Look at overstock or warehouse stores (Think Big Lots, Sam's Club or Costco) Often buying in large quantities makes up for the pricing. I know at one point I got a HUGE bottle of pure vanilla extract (we're talking EASILY 20 oz) for just under $20, which isn't bad at all.

Food Lady
04-11-2012, 08:00 PM
For me it depends on what flavor. For lemon I'd much prefer lemon rind over extract, but I've used them together. I think Mexican vanilla is the best. I suppose for mint you could do a mint leaf/milk infusion, but any old peppermint extract will work, IMO. I'm thinking of making lime sherbet with fresh lime juice/rind. For chocolate, all you need is cocoa powder. (A mix of regular-processed and dutched is ideal). I can't think what other advice to give, except that fruit extracts like lemon and cherry seem to have an "off" taste. I'd rather puree some cherries and add in.

MaggieTheCat
04-11-2012, 08:12 PM
I order a lot of baking stuff from Penzey's Spices (http://www.penzeys.com/). Just glancing, it looks like they sell vanilla, almond, orange, and lemon extracts. I admittedly don't always use their vanilla extract; I only order from them about once a year, and I go through so much vanilla that I end up buying more at the store before re-ordering from Penzey's. But Penzey's quality is definitely top-notch and I don't think their prices are too bad, especially if you're willing to pay a bit more all at once to buy in bulk, which will be cheaper in the long run.

houdini
04-11-2012, 08:17 PM
If you use it, it's definately worth buying in bulk. I find that if I have something in the cupboard, I'm more likely to use it (and therefore bake more, nom), and I've never had anything go to waste.

...actually, I tell a lie, I had a large packet of cardamon given to me. Haven't used the wretched stuff. But if you're using it once and you like the flavour of whatever you get, then it's worth having.

And you can make extracts out of just about anything and vokda, but don't put too much of anything strong in (like chilli, notthatInearlykilledmybrotherinlaw...)

KiaKat
04-11-2012, 08:20 PM
Also try King Arthur Flour Company. They've got a ton of products, though they aren't cheap.

But for ice cream, you want an emulsion, not an extract. Emulsions are thicker and blend better with the cream - extracts can actually separate the cream if not applied at the right time. They also are alcohol based (you can make your own using regular filtered vodka and the flavouring), which might change the freezing point of the ice cream just enough to affect the texture.

Even better is to infuse the ice cream with the flavours you want, by heating the base with the raw flavourings for a few minutes. Look up recipes for vanilla that use actual vanilla bean for reference. And remember that a flavour is never just one thing. Mint will have three or four different components, as will fruit. Even chocolate needs a touch of vanilla to complement.

Kittish
04-11-2012, 09:13 PM
I generally only use extracts for baking, but the principle should be at least similar for ice cream. You usually only use a teaspoon or less at a time in baking.

There isn't any one brand I prefer for extracts, but the vanilla I get is from a company called Rondelle. I get an 8 oz. bottle for usually somewhere around $12. It's good quality.

If you decide to go the make your own vanilla extract route, you might want to look into buying your beans from IndriVanilla. Their prices are pretty good, and they're the company of choice for the Cupcake Project blog (www.cupcakeproject.com) that I read frequently (there's also a discount code on the blog for purchases from them). Also, if you're using beans, you can just grind them into a paste and use that directly.

As for other flavors, I'd suggest as much as possible going with real extracts. Some flavors you won't have a choice other than artificial, though. For cinnamon, I'd suggest getting the oil used for candy making rather than extract. It's a tiny little bottle, but you shouldn't need more than a dozen drops or so for a quart of ice cream.

For fruit flavors, you might also experiment with using juice concentrates for flavoring. For coffee, use beans heated in the milk or cream you're using to make the ice cream.

I've got a bottle of Amaretto flavoring from Spice Barn that I use to make Amaretto fudge for a friend of mine. He says it's good. I generally use 1 or 2 teaspoons of it to make a batch of fudge, and the 4 oz. bottle cost me around $10.

ArcticChicken
04-11-2012, 09:58 PM
Even better is to infuse the ice cream with the flavours you want, by heating the base with the raw flavourings for a few minutes.

This is a good idea. I've never done it for ice cream, but it works brilliantly for whipped cream. Mostly I use tea, heat up the cream, steep the tea as normal, whip. I usually don't add sugar to my whipped cream because it's meant to go over quite sweet things.

Treasure
04-11-2012, 09:58 PM
For cinnamon - get the sticks (from the grocery) and boil them to make a "tea".... the longer you let them steep the stronger the taste - you will get both the "earthy" flavor of ground cinnamon, and the "hot" flavor of cinnamon candies....


for ice-cream you could probably use milk, but you'll want to dilute it slightly so you don't risk scorching or curdling your milk.


Bonus - you can strain out your cinnamon sticks, let them dry (and curl back up) and store them in an air-tight container, then you can re-use them.

thansal
04-11-2012, 10:58 PM
Thanks for the input, I'll extrapolate a bit on my thoughts:

Vanilla I use vanilla from Costco, it's a tonne, and it's cheap, and it's tasty as far as I care.

I was looking specifically at things like nut, fruit and mint flavors for flavoring ice cream (oh, and cinnamon oil, as I have a desire to burn people's mouths off with it). I tried using fresh mint once, and I will likely try it again, but I'm slightly put off (I made mint butter, it was bad), so I would like to try out using some sort of extract for that.

I'm up in the air about using fresh fruits for ice cream. I'm worried about trowing off the mix by using straight juice, though I did just realize that I could make/buy lemon/orange simple syrup and use that instead of lemon/orange extract/oils/whatever....

Any way

/me scarpers off (maple ice cream is churning, awaiting candied bacon to be dropped in)


Ninja edit (ice cream isn't set enough to drop stuff in):
Tea works great with ice cream. The best ice cream I make is earl grey, which is just 6 tea bags steeped in the milk/cream.

KiaKat
04-12-2012, 01:07 AM
For mint, or anything fruit, infuse the actual item (not juice, but actual chunks of fruit or sprigs of mint) into the base. Muddle the mint with sugar, then add to the slightly-heated cream. Also make sure you're using multiple types of mint, and play around with different proportions, as well as different infusion times.

Be careful with vanilla. If it says IMITATION, it's not good. Using regular vanilla beans, split and scraped, will give you a much richer vanilla flavour.

Food Lady
04-12-2012, 03:17 AM
I agree real vanilla is better.

thansal
04-12-2012, 03:03 PM
The Kirkland stuff, while not the best, is just so much better on a price/performance rating that I can't bring my self to buy better extracts/straight beans unless I'm making something very specifically high test (Some cookies, or if I was to make vanilla sugar again). And I honestly just don't make vanilla ice cream, it's something I keep around to add to other things, or when baking. Also, it is real vanilla extract, which is why it's rather awesome at around $7 for a pint bottle.

@KaiKat:
I'm rather surprised at the idea of steeping fresh fruit in the dairy, I wouldn't think it would infuse any better/different then using juice would. I mean, I obviously intend to use zest when I do make fruit ice cream, but I wouldn't have thought of using fresh fruit.

As for mint. I'm mainly on a negative from one attempt I made that was a total disaster, which I blame half on the recipe and half on me. It called for a LOT of mint to be steeped directly in the milk, which simply didn't work (too much mint, not enough milk), so I added the cream as well, and then steeped it. It also said to use an immersion blender to puree all of the mind into the milk, which I tried with a small portion in my blender (I don't have a stick blender). However I didn't think of the fact that having added the cream, I would end up separating the butter fat from it. Total disaster.

You have convinced me on this one, and I'll likely try it soon. Muddling the mint ahead of time sounds so much better. As for other types of mint, I will have to see what is readily available too me...

Thanks again :)

KiaKat
04-12-2012, 11:48 PM
I'm currently working on a project to come up with interesting flavour syrups for drinks. So infusion is something near and dear to my heart. If I can offer any other help, just shout! And I'm frequently in chat, if I'm home, so you can always pop in there to ask questions that need immediate answers. If I'm not there, someone can usually get a hold of me - Dasota, Lupo, xx_wolfie_xx, Pedersen, and Kara all have my number.

RE: Separating butterfat - don't boil the liquid. You want it to JUST barely come to a steam. Even better is a double-boiler; put a metal bowl on top of a saucepot, with about 2" (5cm) water boiling in the pot (keep checking and make sure it doesn't boil dry). Then put the cream mixture in the bowl, with the infusion. Should keep the cream at the right temp.

ArcticChicken
04-13-2012, 12:12 AM
OMG, I found a recipe in my Penzeys catalog today for Blueberry Cardamom Icecream, it looks divine.

pitmonkey
04-13-2012, 06:54 AM
this is where I get my flavorings from. http://www.faeriesfinest.com/index.html They are not the cheapest but they are good.

firecat88
04-13-2012, 02:52 PM
I'm not a baker, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know a few things about flavors and such.

If you're doing anything with lavender or any other herb, be super ridiculously careful. It's possible for it to taste just fine in the batter or in the ice cream mix before you put it in the machine, and for the final product to be overpowering. The thing about lavender is that the line between 'just right' and 'edible soap' borders on non-existent and it's amazingly easy to put too much.

KiaKat
04-13-2012, 07:07 PM
*nods* for any aromatic (this goes for edible barks, too), it's SO easy to overdo it. Always start with far less than you think you need. That's one reason extracts are so popular - the flavour proportion is already worked out, and it's much less overpowering than a fresh infusion.

Also - a hint with infusing fruits - for anything that has skin, use some of the skin. This goes mostly for citrus, but can also help with apple, berry, peach, and pear. There's a lot of flavour in skin!

thansal
04-13-2012, 07:28 PM
RE: Separating butterfat - don't boil the liquid. You want it to JUST barely come to a steam. Even better is a double-boiler; put a metal bowl on top of a saucepot, with about 2" (5cm) water boiling in the pot (keep checking and make sure it doesn't boil dry). Then put the cream mixture in the bowl, with the infusion. Should keep the cream at the right temp.
Heh, nah it separated because I mechanically separated, just like you would if you wanted to actually make butter, because I'm an idiot and didn't think of that (you can easily make butter by pouring heavy cream in a Cuisinart and letting it go) :P

I figure the recipe would work if you used an immersion blender (like they said) and only blended the mint into the milk, not the milk and the cream (as they said).

however, the next attempt at mint will be via muddling it and then straining it out after steeping.

I'm not a baker, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know a few things about flavors and such.

If you're doing anything with lavender or any other herb, be super ridiculously careful. It's possible for it to taste just fine in the batter or in the ice cream mix before you put it in the machine, and for the final product to be overpowering. The thing about lavender is that the line between 'just right' and 'edible soap' borders on non-existent and it's amazingly easy to put too much.

I don't have that problem. I think lavender is a terrible thing in general, and my GF loves it to death, so she will eat anything I make with it :P. Fairway sells very nice dried lavender that makes some great tea or ice cream. Lavender + honey made for a very nice ice cream, next time I need to find a better honey though (the honey I used had a very strong flavor, so it was a bit more honey than I had wanted).

I'm starting to think that I really just have to bight the bullet and start making reductions instead of buying flavoring agents...

dalesys
04-14-2012, 12:50 AM
There's a lot of flavour in skin!
I'll say!:eyewaggle: