Spring Baking

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We are happy to be in the thick of spring here on the Colorado Front Range. Trees are budding, leaves are popping out, and there are beautiful blooms starting to peek out everywhere you turn. Nothing gets us more excited than the signs of a new season and the promise of warmer weather and beautiful, long, sunny days ahead. Well, maybe all of that and baking some springy treats. This is the perfect season to welcome some of our baking skills out of hibernation after a few months to recover from the busy baking season. Not to mention, there is an abundance of tempting spring produce and fruit that work so perfectly in the kitchen! We’re sharing a few of our all-time favorite spring recipes, and a couple of spring baking tips today!

Spring Baking Tips

  • Looking to use up some or that rhubarb from your garden or the farmer’s market? Avoid stalks that are limp with blemishes, and look for small leaves that indicate younger plants (just don’t eat the leaves!). We recommend tasting your recipes as you go with rhubarb dishes – sometimes one’s palette may require more sugar and other times, what you make might really shine because of a little rhubarb-tart flavor!
  •  Spring strawberries are among the best produce at our local grocers right now. Always go for ones that are bright red and shiny – and it’s good to know that the size of the berries does not influence their sweetness.
  • Go through your pantry – if you’re spring cleaning the rest of the house, now is a good time to check out your baking “kit” and remove any flours, extracts, spices, etc. that may be past their “best by” dates. Or, you might be able to reorganize to make sure you definitely use up any older duplicates of ingredients before opening a newer package with a longer shelf life!

Spring Recipe Favorites

Coconut Vanilla Cream Tart – Coconut pairs with the subtle sweetness and flavor of Rodelle Vanilla in this tart. You’ll love the crunchy vanilla crumb crust, smooth and rich coconut custard and whipped vanilla bean cream!

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze – This pound cake is the perfect amount of citrus and sweet – with that traditional crumb and dense texture you love about pound cakes!

Angel Food Cupcakes – We’ve created a light, fluffy, and delicious cupcake using our Vanillas and Almond Extract. We then filled these little delights with strawberries and topped them with vanilla bean whip cream!

Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake – This decadent masterpiece was created by Lyndsy Hassett from The Dinnervine. “Sweet strawberries and Pure Rodelle Vanilla come together in this lovely cake! Perfect as a dessert…”

Spring Macarons – These delicious French Macarons have been created with Rodelle by Sugar Bakeshop. They are a delicious assortment of vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry. Mix and match and have a perfect spring dessert!

Layered Carrot Cake – This elegant recipe is borrowed from Saveur magazine. We’ve added our vanilla extract and vanilla beans. The extra vanilla brings a warm and sensual aroma and flavor to this extravagant dessert.

Bird’s Nest Cupcakes – These cupcakes are a perfect accompaniment to any springtime feast. They are moist and creamy, delectable creations that will make your mouth water! They are our most favorite spring recipe!

Chocolate Mousse Filled Strawberries – Delightfully easy and cute for spring and summer – fun for kids to help with filling the strawberries. And, they are light enough that you can enjoy a couple!

Almond Cupcakes with Rhubarb and Strawberries – A light, irresistible mini-cake – perfect for spring entertaining and desserts! They are secretly gluten-free, too, so everyone can enjoy.

Happy *Spring* Baking!

Vanilla Prices

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We are sure you’ve noticed a rise in vanilla prices over the past couple of years…it’s hard not to when you’re running low on your beloved Rodelle vanilla products and go to the grocery store to stock up! Many people think that saffron is the world’s most labor-intensive crop however vanilla beans are also very complex crops. Of 25,000-30,000 orchid species, vanilla is the only one that produces an edible fruit, and each orchid must be hand pollinated within 24 hours of blossoming. Vanilla farmers are often plighted with weather conditions and complex supply chains. We closely monitor market conditions in the growing regions, and we strive to source consistently priced vanilla products of superior quality. 2017 is no exception as the largest hurricane in 13 years hit Madagascar’s vanilla growing regions in March – you can read more about that cyclone, Enawo, here.

Speculation, high demand and low supply all caused the price of vanilla beans to sharply rise and prices reached 13-year highs with the completion of the Madagascar harvest in 2016. Madagascar represented 85% of the world’s vanilla bean crop in 2016. The prices there have easily driven up prices in the marketplace and controlled speculation into 2017. Despite the destruction to 20-30% of the Madagascar vanilla crop for 2017, Rodelle hopes that inventories will be available to meet customer demand on vanilla needs this year and in the near future.

Rodelle is working toward the future by inserting ourselves deeper into the vanilla-growing regions by working directly with farmer cooperatives that will eliminate extraneous costs. It is going to take time for conditions in the vanilla market to improve. Rodelle is committed to doing our part to make an impact by becoming fully sustainable in the vanilla growing regions. We are working very hard to lessen the impact of this price surge and are doing what we can to help improve prices. In the meantime, Rodelle will continue our 80-year tradition of creating quality vanilla products.

Please feel free to comment or email us at contact at rodelleinc.com with any questions!

Rodelle Baker’s Extract

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With the price of vanilla likely to get much higher before it gets lower, the market has responded in some interesting ways. Many retailers and food manufacturers will have no other option than turn to an imitation vanilla or another alternative to flavor their products and meet consumer demand. Imitation vanilla is very common, and was the number one alternative to pure vanilla extract 13 years ago when a tropical storm destroyed half the vanilla crop. Unlike its natural counterpart, imitation vanilla is easily derived from multiple resources – including petroleum and clove oil. Imitation vanilla extract will give you the initial hints of vanilla flavor that you are used to, but it won’t have the robust, intricate, well-rounded flavor that is really needed to make simple recipes (like french toast, ice cream, and vanilla cookies) shine. Furthermore, since more and more consumers are active label-readers, imitation vanilla has fallen out of favor.

We’ve seen a number of factors at play in the vanilla market and we summarized our initial thoughts and plans for the 2017 vanilla market in this report. Then, in early March, we heard about Tropical Cyclone Enawo. It became clear that Enawo would definitely make land fall on Madagascar in early March and we made the necessary precautions to make sure our team on the ground was safe and bracing for the storm. We have summarized all of the effects of Enawo and the state of the vanilla market on our website. As we help with the humanitarian efforts on clean up and recovery, we’re also looking into what we can do to help weather the ongoing, worsening storm of price increases that are impending.

With Rodelle’s high commitment to quality and natural products, we’re introducing a couple of vanilla extract alternatives that we are proud of, and confident in. We created this natural “Baker’s Extract” with pure vanilla extract as a lower cost option for shoppers during this turbulent time in the vanilla market. It can be used 1:1 in recipes where you would normally use vanilla extract. We like it because it has a smooth, natural flavor with hints of vanilla and chocolate. This extract is currently available at H-E-B stores in Texas and we’re hoping to get it on our Amazon store soon. If you’re interested in buying online, H-E-B ships to most states through their website. We will continue to share new vanilla alternatives on our website and our blog, and we always love to hear from our readers. Send us your questions to contact@rodelleinc.com.

Top 10 Baking Tips for Colorado

It’s no secret that we love baking! With recipes to get you through almost every day of the year, we’re often busy in the kitchen whipping up a treat of some kind. In Fort Collins, Colorado, our home base, we’re at about 5,000 feet above sea level. Some of our friends up in the mountains live well above 8,500 feet though!

If you have a recipe that you are baking for the first time, there’s a chance that it will come out perfectly baked at altitude. There is also a chance that some adjustments might be necessary to make that recipe a home-run! We recommend trying a recipe as written the first time you make it. If it doesn’t turn out, then you can start experimenting!

With so many great resources online, we’re sharing our top 10 favorite baking tips for Colorado that we’ve pulled from other sites and from our Executive Chef’s notes:

  1. Extra flour helps! Starting at 3,500 feet above sea level, add 1 more tablespoon per recipe – scale that increase up as your altitude increases. Additional flour helps strengthen the structure of baked goods.
  2. Adjust your leavening agents – rising happens quicker at altitude and a lower amount of baking powder or baking soda can help maintain the level you are looking for.
  3. Dipped centers on your quick breads? Try decreasing the fat, leavener, and sugar.
  4. Bake your brownies at a decreased oven temperature (about 25 degrees) to prevent overbaked sides and a soupy middle.
  5. If your pie crusts don’t have the right texture, slightly more liquid could help.
  6. Making a yeast bread (yay!)? Try covering your dough and place it in the refrigerator for the first rise. It will take a little longer, but that will give your dough more flavor and allow the yeast to develop over time.
  7. Cookies on your horizon? Increase oven temperature to keep your cookies from overexpanding and drying out!
  8. Got a cake recipe with shortening? You might have to reduce the shortening by 1-2 tablespoons to prevent the cake from falling.
  9. Angel food cake? Beat your egg whites only to soft-peak stage to keep the texture light and fluffy.
  10. When you’re baking cakes, prevent an overly moist layer by increasing flour.

Happy baking and enjoy!

 

Baking Kits and Rodelle Goodies

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Rodelle’s Valentine’s Day Giveaway with our friends at Cake In A Crate was a really fun way for us to celebrate our love for quality ingredients and baking delicious treats at home! We were so excited to share that enthusiasm with so many of you online and on our Instagram giveaway!

We selected a grand prize winner and a runner up from our online contest: Emily in York, Pennsylvania will get to try the Chocolate Silk Pies baking kit – one of our favorites because they are some seriously cute and delicious single-serve treats!

We selected one winner from our Instagram contest to try out the Double Fudge Brownie Pie! Congratulations to Anushka in Dallas, Texas!

We had so many wonderful friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reach out and comment, like and share this contest and we are thankful for each and every one of you! Wrapping up this contest has us already plotting our next fun giveaway, so stay tuned for more information on our website in the coming months!