Essential Pantry Ingredients for Baking
December 1, 2015
Don't leave the store without these basic baking ingredients
Definitely keep all-purpose flour around all the time. Also nice to have are unbleached flour, cake flour, whole-wheat flour, and semolina.
At a bare minimum, and not just for baking, always have some granulated white sugar in the cupboard. Brown sugar, confectioners' sugar, real maple syrup, and honey are also good to have for baking.
At the very least, always keep on hand a bottle of pure vanilla extract (none of that artificial stuff). Almond extract is nice, too.
Cinnamon, clove, allspice, and ground ginger are always good to have in the spice rack. Nutmeg, too — just make sure to buy whole nutmeg, not ground, since the flavor and aroma are far superior.
Dried Fruits and Nuts
Raisins, dried apricots, and dried cranberries are great for breads and cookies, and walnuts, almonds, and pecans are always good to have around, although it's important to keep the shelf life in mind: Even when stored in a cool, dark place, an open package of shelled nuts will last at most about 18 months.
Oatmeal, cornmeal, and bran are great pantry staples to have if you like baking cookies and muffins.
Baking soda and baking powder — what's the difference? Baking soda works in the presence of an acidic ingredient such as yogurt or buttermilk. Baking powder is baking soda with cream of tartar added to it along with some starch. Cream of tartar acts as the acidic ingredient in baking powder. It's a good idea to have both on hand because many recipes call for one or the other (and sometimes both). Without either of these, your baked goods won't rise.
Some type of fat is a must for just about any baking recipe. Keep vegetable oil and good-quality unsalted butter on hand, as well as shortening.
If you're a chocolate lover, you'll want to keep some unsweetened cocoa powder in the cupboard, as well as some milk chocolate and semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips.