Reminiscence of Sains Rumah Tangga

The original domestic goddess, Ling, presented me with a bunch of stuff for Christmas. Among them was a pack of real vanilla beans. That's right: r-e-a-l vanilla beans, all oily, glossy and oh-so fragrant.

I grew up thinking vanilla came from a jar of Star Brand Vanilla Essence. Or vanilla flavoured essence, to be more precise. That brown, medicine-like liquid in a little bottle with its red screw-on cap. You know the one I mean.

So you can understand my jakun-ness when being presented with the real thing. I promised Ling I'd bake a cake using the beans, and capture my efforts in full technicolour glory for her amusement.

Only thing is, I don't have an electric mixer here in Hong Kong. So it was back to the basics.

And no thanks to my failing memory, I had to make 3 separate trips to the supermarket near my place to pick up something or the other. And the ingredient list consists of only 6 items. Yes, I know.

How to make a Pound Cake with REAL Vanilla Beans, by hand

1. You'll need - butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla beans.

2. With a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar until your arm feels like it has been dislocated from the rest of your body - approximately 2 minutes. Continue beating for another 13 minutes till butter and sugar become a creamy, white mixture. Ignore any blisters that may erupt on your palm.

3. Add the eggs, flour and real vanilla bean seeds (scraped from its pod) to mixture. I threw the pod into my brown sugar jar. Mmm, fragrant sugar.

4. Bake for about 50 minutes.

5. Remove from oven when it's done (duh).

6. Laugh at old wives' tales that tell you to wait for cake to cool before eating.

7. Best with cup of coffee.