How to stock your baking cabinet
Whether you're a novice baker or a professional pastry chef, having a well-stocked pantry will make your baking a more streamlined affair, since you'll always have the basic ingredients at hand.
You read the recipe and gather all your ingredients, or so you think. Has it ever happened to you that halfway through baking a recipe, you realize you're out of baking soda/eggs/cornstarch and have to fly to the store? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. Thus, we've created a list of baking ingredients that should be stocked in your pantry at all times. It's a basic list, so for more elaborate recipes you might need to go out and shop. But this list will get you through the basics.
It's also important to remember that a well-stocked pantry is complemented by a well-stocked fridge, so make sure you have the essentials in there as well: milk, heavy cream, buttermilk, eggs and butter are what come to mind and will get you out of a pinch in no time!
All-purpose flour and whole wheat flour are the main flours you should store if you love baking. All-purpose, as its name states, is good for a variety of items such as cookies, cakes and muffins and keeping the whole wheat flour around will let you play around with healthier versions of those recipes. Other flours that are good to have on hand are corn flour and white whole wheat flour.
Granulated sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar are the basic sugars you should be stocking. Light corn syrup, molasses, honey and maple syrup are liquid sweeteners that can be worked well into recipes for either flavor or texture.
Vegetable oil, coconut oil, shortening. Depending on your likes, you can also add lard to this section. Of course, remember to keep unsalted butter in your freezer for baking emergencies!
Chemicals and additives
Baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, cream of tartar, plain gelatin and yeast are the must-haves in any pantry. They're ingredients that create texture; i.e., make your baked goods crunchy, crispy, fluffy and stable.
Flavors are a personal decision, and you can go the homemade route by making them at home by infusing ingredients in alcohol. Some must-haves are: vanilla extract, whole vanilla beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, kosher salt, sea salt flakes, white vinegar, instant coffee, espresso powder, cocoa powder, powdered milk and nut butter.
Add-ins and more
Nothing like adding goodies to your baked items! Some of our favorites: chocolate chips, dried fruit, whole nuts, jams and jellies, crystallized ginger, graham crackers, marshmallows and shredded coconut will give you a good variety of ingredients to work with, changing the flavors and textures of your items easily. Use a basic cookie dough recipe and divide it into four, adding a different combination of add-ins to make four completely different cookies with one-quarter of the work!