The Baker’s Dozen: Stocking Your Pantry With Everyday Baking Essentials

  |     |   Lifestyle

It could be mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe or that perfect summer pie. Everyone has that favorite recipe that sparks a memory or gets them itching to get to work in the kitchen.

For those of us who have ever craved something special and not been able to follow through with it because we ran out of an essential ingredient, the struggle is real.

Keeping your pantry stocked doesn’t have to be expensive or challenging. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to stock your pantry with baking essentials to ensure no further craving-related heartbreak:

Start with the basics

Baking soda, baking powder, flour and sugar are a good start, but when it comes to baking there will likely be some alternatives to consider and keep in mind when stocking your pantry.

Light and dark brown sugars, for example, accomplish similar things in many recipes, but they are distinguished by the slightly deeper, almost smoky flavor in the dark brown option.

There are also variations on flour, with self-rising flour (commonly used in cakes), as well as whole wheat flour. Finally, especially for those breads and doughs, active-dry yeast and rapid rise yeast are also good staples to stock.

Spice it up

Like any home baker, there are options here for your choosing. Spices can also be expensive, and do have a shelf life, so consider buying larger containers of only the most common ones you know you will use most frequently.

Cinnamon and nutmeg are common in a lot of baking recipes, but also make appearances in savory foods, so they play a dual role in your pantry. Another option would be to go with pie-specific blends, like apple or pumpkin pie spices, which may simplify your baking endeavors, especially if you don’t do a lot of other cooking.

Extract some joy

There are a lot more than you’d think, and they frequently show up in baking recipes in places you might not expect. And something that might come as a surprise to someone new to baking is the cost.

Something to watch for when buying, though, is whether the extract is pure or not. The pure option may cost a little more than the “vanilla flavored extract,” for example, but without it you risk sacrificing flavor in all the wrong places.

You can go crazy with them, too, buying up the raspberry and brandy extracts, but it’s a better idea to accumulate those as you go. Consider vanilla as a staple, and then find out what you are likely to need for your favorite recipes (for me it’s almond extract) and add them to the list you always keep on hand.

Savor the sweet stuff

For cupcakes and other delectable desserts, consider stocking things like cocoa powder, cream of tartar and instant espresso powder, as well as goodies like chocolate chips and other cookie-friendly additions. Nuts make another good choice, but those may be better stored in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness.

Add the extras as you go

They may be thought of as more savory ingredients, but things like honey, molasses and maple syrup cross into the wonderful world of baked goods more often than you think. Consider sourcing these goodies locally, from a farmer’s market or specialty grocery store, as the quality is worth the investment.

Storage of your baking essentials will vary greatly based on your pantry, but consider keeping the baking supplies separate from other items by using a separate shelf or a storage bin that contains the essentials so you can easily transport what you need from the pantry to your workspace when the time comes to get baking.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember, especially with things like spices and extracts, is you don’t have to be stocked right away.

In fact, in many cases it is better that you don’t stock up on absolutely everything right away, since you will likely end up throwing things out. These items do have a shelf life, so eventually that container of unused allspice berries has a date with the garbage, whether you like it or not.

Find out what you need and what works for you, and build your supply as you go.

Scio at the Medical District: Welcome Home

Our beautiful kitchens are something we take pride in at Scio at the Medical District, a luxury apartment community in the heart of Chicago’s medical district. They are spacious and refined, with plenty of space to bake up any number of fabulous desserts, pies, and pastries.

For more information, or to schedule a tour, call (312) 427-1855 or visit us online.

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