If I’m honest, I love all things sweet. I try to hide it and sometimes I even try to suppress it, but when all is said and done, I just love sweet things. I’m one of those people who don’t even look at the starter section of a menu because I’m saving space for desert. Thankfully I know several people, most of my family included, who also consider a slice of cake to constitute a perfectly good lunch. And despite my love of baking and all things home-made, I have never yet made bread from scratch, because after all, why bake bread when you can bake a cake?
So as you can imagine, sugar is an important staple of my store cupboard. At present I have an impressive collection of castor, granulated, demarera, preserving, light brown, dark brown, muscovado, icing, royal icing, unrefined…. the list goes on, but my most exciting discovery has been flavoured sugars. I discovered these wonderful concoctions whilst playing around with some more unusual flavourings, such as rose and lavender and couldn’t resist trying it out.
For me, the attraction is the ability to easily add flavour to baking, but flavoured sugars also have a multitude of other uses, including mixing with tea or fruit juice, rimming cocktail glasses, sprinkling over fruits like strawberries and melon, sprinkling over ice cream or mixing into whipped cream. One idea I particularly liked was substituting rose sugar for vanilla in a Creme Brule, which is going to have to be tried. Over the coming months I am going to be spotlighting different flavours and sharing my discoveries with you, so keep an eye out for some great recipes utilising these sugars in the future.
The idea is super simple; flavours are infused by standing the ingredient in sugar for a couple of weeks. Some recipes suggest for rose and lavender blending the ingredient into the sugar, but I opted out of this as I wanted sugar with a fairly subtle flavour, particularly avoiding the bitterness that can come out of these flowers. The vanilla sugar is a slightly different flavour, with less potential for bitterness, so I have added the seeds into my finished product, as I will explain later.
I’ve used Kilner jars for these sugars, partially because they look so pretty on my kitchen shelf, but mostly because they are airtight and dry. You can always use clean jam jars with a good seal or tupperware tubs. The quantities I have used are fairly large, but I have included the ratios below so you can up- or down-scale as you like.
- 3 Cups Lavender or Rose petals (NB. these should be culinary grade or organic – other products will have been sprayed with chemicals which you don’t really want to ingest.)
- 6 Cups Castor Sugar
- 1:2 flavour:sugar ratio
Layer up the flowers and sugar in a dry, airtight container, seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, stirring occasionally; strength is really a matter of taste, so try a little. If it is not strong enough, continue to stand for another week or two, testing occasionally. Once you have reached your desired strength, sift out the flowers, and voila!
- 6 Whole Vanilla Pods (NB. vanilla pods are hugely over priced in supermarkets; if you use them regularly you might want to consider ordering in bulk for websites like Vanillamart)
- 6 Cups Castor Sugar
- 1 pod per cup of sugar
Split the pods down the centre, leaving the ends in tact and place in a dry, airtight container, fill with sugar and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, stirring occasionally; don’t worry if the flavour seems a bit light at this stage. Remove the pods from the container and scrape out the seeds and mix in with the sugar to make a sugar that looks and smells just as good as it tastes!
These flavoured sugars make a lovely and unusual gift, especially when accompanied by a few of your own tried and tested recipes! I hope you enjoy making your own flavoured sugars, but if you would prefer not to make them yourself, check out my Etsy shop, where I will shortly be selling my own.