Thanks to the upheavals associated with 2020, we’ve all had to harness our own resources more than ever before.
In the process, many of us have learned to make our own eats and treats instead of shopping for our daily bread. In fact, in some countries, flour sales have increased by 160%.
Are you one of those people who’ve recently discovered the joys of baking and decided you’d like to keep up the trend?
Here’s the essential baking ingredients list you’ll need to get started and keep going.
Flour Is The Backbone of Baking
Flour is the main ingredient in most recipes and contains gluten that binds all the ingredients together.
Different flours have different gluten levels which makes them more suited to various types of cakes, biscuits, and bread. You can also bake some items with gluten-free flour.
The main types of flour you’ll need to stock up on are:
All-purpose flour is good for a wide variety of bakes.
This type of flour contains a mix of soft wheat which has a low-gluten content, and high-gluten hard wheat milled to remove all traces of wheat germ and bran.
Often, you can substitute all-purpose flour for cake or bread flour in a pinch and still get acceptable results.
Cake flour’s essential if you want to bake biscuits, scones, and cakes with a delicate, fine texture.
It has the least amount of gluten compared to other flours. Due to this, your cake ingredients won’t stick together as much as they will when you use all-purpose flour for baking.
Cake flour has a shelf-life of up to eight months.
When you use this type of flour, you don’t need to add any baking powder or salt to your recipe. Manufacturers add these two ingredients to the flour before it’s packaged.
This makes it ideal to use if your children have taken up baking as a hobby or on vacation when you don’t want to take extra ingredients along.
If a recipe calls for self-rising flour, and you don’t have any, you can use cake flour or all-purpose flour if you add your own baking powder and salt. Usually, the ratio is one teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt per cup of flour.
The same applies if you want to use self-rising flour in place of another flour except you’d leave out the baking powder and salt.
It’s always best to follow the recipe as closely as possible though, so stock up on the main types of flours.
Self-rising flour stays fresh on the shelf for six months as long as you keep it tightly wrapped and in its original box.
Other types of flour you might need include cornstarch that acts as a thickening agent, and cornmeal for baking some types of waffles and pancakes as well as cornbread.
Salt Is Key to Successful Baking
Salt helps bring out the flavors of all your baking ingredients, so you’ll use it in both sweet and savory bakes. Ordinary table salt will do, although some bakers swear that non-iodized salt is best.
You may also come across recipes that require sea salt, rock salt, or kosher salt.
Leaveners for a Perfect Rise
Leaveners are an essential type of dry baking ingredients. They create a chemical reaction that fills your batter with bubbles and causes your cakes and bread to rise while cooking.
There are two different types of leaveners, i.e. natural leaveners like eggs and yeast, and chemical leaveners such as baking powder and baking soda.
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, goes to work when it comes into contact with acidic ingredients like buttermilk.
Baking powder contains a mixture of baking soda, cornstarch, and a type of acid. It starts to bubble when mixed with wet baking ingredients and again when you place your cake in the oven.
Yeast is a slow-acting leavening agent, most commonly used in bread, that needs at least half an hour to start working.
Fats For Extra Flavor
Butter is essential for flavorful baking and far preferable to margarine. Oil is a common fat used to grease baking pans and also as an ingredient for baking muffins.
You can use shortening in place of butter in some recipes, especially savory pastries.
Dairy and Eggs For Binding and Rising
Apart from butter, you’ll also use milk in many baking recipes. It’s the best way to add moisture to waffles, cakes, pancakes, and many other bakes. You can use low-fat milk instead of full-cream milk in all recipes if you’re on an anti-fat crusade.
Eggs are another important element for binding ingredients together in baking. They also act as a leavening agent if you whip the egg whites before adding them to the other ingredients.
Other popular types of dairy used in baking include cheese, cream cheese, buttermilk, and cream.
Extras to Add to Your Baking Ingredients List
After these basics, one of the main things you’ll need to add to your baking ingredients checklist is vanilla in some form. Most sweet recipes use vanilla for flavor.
Vanilla essence is the cheapest and most common type of vanilla flavoring but if you want great results, you should always buy the best type of vanilla you can afford.
Other popular types of flavoring include spices, alcohol, and various fruit essences as well as ingredients for decorating your cakes.
It’s expensive to buy every type of flavoring at once, so rather buy these only when needed.
More Ways to Improve Your Life
As you discover more delicious recipes, you’re bound to add a few more essentials to your baking ingredients list.
Baking’s an enjoyable activity and while you’re bound to end up with a few flops at first, it becomes easier as you go along.
Simple recipes will help you master the basics for more advanced creations. Who knows, you may even end up baking as an enjoyable and lucrative side hustle.
Keep browsing our lifestyle blog for more information to help you thrive.