Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Essential Ingredients for Beginners

If you are married to a guy like my husband, store-bought ready mixes are out of the question. I would stock up on cookie and muffin mixes when they go on sale and bake them for my toddler and I will hear him say, "You know it's better if you make them from scratch." I just roll my eyes.

But if you don't live with a picky housemate, go ahead and stock up on Betty Crockers or Duncan Hines. They are really good. There are lots of recipes that even uses the cake mixes.

You'll be surprised that you probably already have most of the ingredients in baking anything from scratch.

Here's a list of items I make sure I never ran out of and to bring to the store for new baking adventure. I always make my grocery list by aisle...

DAIRY, EGGS & CHEESE AISLE (Stock in your refrigerator):
  • Milk  - we always have milk on our refrigerator. One of our kids is a milkaholic.

  • Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream - just stock the small carton. It's mainly used for frosting or ganache.

  • Unsalted Butter - if you are planning to do a lot of baking, get the bulk pack from Costco.

  • Eggs - I get the 24-pack ($2) from Costco because I bake something at least once a week. And we also use eggs for breakfast and other meal recipes.

  • Cream Cheese - for the cream cheese frosting lover in you. Cream cheese frosting always goes well with Red Velvet Cake. I have the 8 oz tub on hand all the time. Even if you don't end up using it for baking, you can always use it as a bagel or sandwich spread.

  • Sour Cream - some bread recipes call for this. Again, just an 8 oz. tub on your refrigerator will do.

  • Buttermilk - my chocolate cake recipes uses buttermilk and it's a really good recipe from Ina Garten. So, I always make sure I have that small carton ready all the time.

SPICES AND BAKING AISLE (Stock in your pantry):
  •  All-purpose Flour - just the regular, everyday flour.

  • Cake Flour - this is packed in a carton. Some recipes on the Food Network prefer using this kind of flour over the all-purpose flour. Don't ask me why. I'm a beginner, too. Remember?

  • Brown Sugar - I always see recipes ask for light brown sugar or packed brown sugar. 

  • Powdered (Confectioner's) Sugar - every time I go to the store, I get a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar. The ones you buy in the 1-lb box and 2-lb bags are already pre-sifted. One recipe of frosting will sometimes call for a whole bag of these. That's why I always get a bag, just in case.

  • Granulated Sugar - it's the regular white sugar also called caster sugar. 

  • Baking Powder

  • Baking Soda

  • Table Salt

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - I use Hershey's all the time. I've tried the "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake at the back of the can. The cake is great and very moist but the frosting is too sweet.

  • Chocolate Chips/Morsels - get semi-sweet, it's the all-purpose chocolate. The most common brand you see in stores is Nestle Toll House in the yellow bags.

  • Unsweetened Chocolate - this is a common baking ingredient chocolate. Kraftfood's Baker's Chocolate is the cheapest and most common brand. I haven't tried any of the premium brands.

  • Vanilla Extract - clear vanilla extract is preferred. Personally, I just use the Kirkland brand I got from Costco.

  • Gel Food Colors - gel paste food coloring is better than the liquid kind. I've already accumulated a few Wilton brand colors but my very first set I got from Safeway - the Betty Crocker Assorted Classic.

COOKING OIL AND SPRAYS (in the pantry, too)
  • Nonstick spray with flour - the shortcut to having to butter and flour pans which honestly, I don't know how to do. Spraying the pan is so much simpler. I got the PAM brand.

  • Vegetable Oil 
  • Vegetable Shortening - Crisco is the popular brand. It's better even if you buy the one already pre-measured in 8 oz tubs. 

    • Parchment Paper

    • Wax Paper

    • Cupcake Liners

      Did I miss anything? Again, these are just the most basic and essential. I stock a few more other items e.g. almond flour, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, shredded coconut, marshmallows, etc.

      Thanks for reading.


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