Baking has swept the world as a way to pass the time in 2020. If your occasional baking hobby has become an obsession, you are in good company.
However, there is a difference between a good and a good baking, and it all starts with what’s in your pantry. According to the experts at Baking at Home, here are seven must-have items you need to take your homemade breads, cobblers, cakes and more recipes through, plus tips for using these pantry essentials to their fullest potential. . .
1. A flour-based pastry spray: As all home bakers know, one of the trickiest steps in any recipe is the last – releasing your treat from the pan without damaging it. If you’ve had a few failed attempts, you may have seen your creations go from masterpieces to flops in a few short, heart-wrenching seconds. To stick the landing every time (and never waste your efforts again), try using a flour-based cooking spray for easy release from the pan and faster, more successful cooking overall.
2. Shortening: While many consider shortening and butter to be interchangeable, they are not the same. Make sure to cut short whenever you want your recipe to rise high and hold its shape or to get that perfect puff pastry or crust. Doing herbal trades? All-vegetable shortening can be used successfully in place of butter for an all-vegetable touch on classic recipes.
3. Baking powder: The workhorse of many recipes, the importance of a reliable dual-action baking powder cannot be overstated. To that end, stick with proven brands, which have been making pastry perfection for over 100 years. Pro Tip: Quickly test the effectiveness of baking powder by mixing a teaspoon with hot water. No sparkling reaction? It’s time to throw it away.
4. Baking soda: Baking soda is the wild and strongest cousin of baking powder, so it’s important not to get them confused, especially since baking soda is often specifically called for in recipes that contain an acid (think buttermilk and citrus.) While there are many freedoms you can take in the kitchen, guessing how much baking soda to use is not one of them. Always measure the exact amount listed to avoid a bitter taste in your finished product.
5. Premium spices, seasonings and herbs: Any serious baker worth his salt will have a ‘go big or go home’ mentality when it comes to spices. Give dishes more depth by collecting your collection to include only high-quality selections that pack a punch, like Spice Islands. Remember that keeping the spices dry prolongs the flavor, so place your rack in a cool, dry place away from the heat of the oven.
6. Molasses: When mixed with white sugar, molasses can be a great substitute for brown sugar, but that’s just one of its many uses. A pantry staple and an American tradition, it’s essential in dishes where chewiness and depth of flavor are essential, like pecan pie or gingerbread. Molasses can also be the secret ingredient causing oohs and aahs that has friends and family for a few seconds.
7. Vanilla extract: Whether you’re cutting back on added sugars or just running out of sweets, you can use vanilla extract as a tasty and healthier sugar substitute.
With a well-stocked pantry and a good understanding of your ingredients, your creations will come out exactly the way you want them, every time.