I was told that in order to bake a great cake, you need quality ingredients. From butter, to eggs, to vanilla extract. Pure vanilla extract is one of the most expensive spices, and should be distinguished from vanilla essence or flavor, which is synthetic. Although both can be substituted for one another in a recipe, vanilla extract is the preferable ingredient if you want your cake to have a wonderful flavor.
Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid, and reading the history of pollination by hand can be quite amusing. After some research, I was surprised to find that it is possible to make your own vanilla extract. All you need is 180ml of vodka, 1 whole vanilla bean, and an airtight empty bottle. It was suggested to cut the bean in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Cover tight and let steep for at least 6 months.
In this experiment, I used a 175ml bottle of vodka, added 3 vanilla beans (instead of 1), and let steep for 6 months. The result was satisfactory, and economical. So far, I used it in all my baking, including the chiffon cake.
Tip: a good vanilla bean should be moist, plump, tender, shiny and black. It can be hard to find.