A New Gen Baker is a smart baker; always ready to bake when the occasion calls for it or when the mood strikes. Preparedness is key to everything.
Baking relies on the chemistry of well thought-out and carefully measured ingredients to create magic in the kitchen. Always remember that fresh, good-quality ingredients is what sets New Gen Bakers apart from the rest.
If you love to bake, and you bake a lot, here are pantry staples that you can’t do without.
MAYA All-Purpose Flour: This is the most basic of all flours, and a must have in any respectable baker’s pantry. It’s used in most baked goods from cookies, to breads, to cakes. Sold as bleached, or unbleached, MAYA All-Purpose Flour is best stored in a tightly sealed canister and should be good for about eight months to a maximum of one year, if refrigerated.
MAYA Cake Flour: If your recipe requires low protein (gluten) levels, this is the flour you need, especially if you’re baking soft, tender cakes. It can be kept in the pantry for about six to eight months.
MAYA Cake Mixes: If you have a sudden need for something sweet and freshly baked, then this will do the job. With minimum effort you get maximum taste from a variety of choices — Chocolate Cake, Fudge Brownies, Butterscotch, Carrot Cake, Banana Cake, and Red Velvet to name a few. You can even bake with just an oven toaster!
Granulated Sugar: When a recipe calls for “sugar,” it means granulated sugar or just plain white sugar. Store it properly in a tightly sealed container and it will last for years.
Confectioners’ Sugar: This sweet concoction is ground granulated sugar mixed with cornstarch. Otherwise known as 10X or powdered sugar, confectioners’ sugar is usually used for icings and for dusting. It is best stored in its original box.
Brown Sugar: Available in both light and dark variants, both are interchangeable in recipes, and it is really a matter of preference of which you want to use.
Molasses: This is the leftover liquid from refining sugar. Light molasses is from the first refinement; dark is from the second; and the strongest type of molasses is from the third called “blackstrap”. Unsulphured molasses tend to have a cleaner flavor, compared to sulphured.
Honey: Light-colored honey is better for baking to get a more delicate flavor. Honey can be stored for up to one year in a tightly sealed container kept in a cool, dry place.
Maple Syrup: The darker your syrup, the more robust the flavor. This is recommended for baking and cooking. Once opened from its jar, keep it in the refrigerator to retain its freshness.
Baking Soda: Used as a chemical leavener to make dough rise, baking soda produces carbon dioxide to leaven baked goods when combined with acidic liquids like buttermilk, molasses, or sour cream. It is also used in recipes to brown food and can last a long time when stored in a cool, dry place.
Baking Powder: A mixture of baking soda, acid such as cream of tartar, and cornstarch, most baking powders are “double-acting”. This means that a reaction occurs the first time it dissolves in liquid, and a second time when exposed to heat. Once opened, baking powder has a six month shelf life. To test whether it is still active, check if it fizzes by stirring 1 teaspoon into 1/3 cup of warm water.
Unsweetened Chocolate: Store this sugarless baking chocolate wrapped, away from sunlight and dampness, and it will last for up to three years.
Dark Chocolate: This bittersweet chocolate can also be stored for up to three years as long as it’s stored properly away from sunlight and dampness.
Milk Chocolate: This has about 12 percent milk solids added which makes it creamier and mellower than its dark chocolate counterpart, but has a shorter shelf life of four to six months.
Chocolate Chips: You can’t live without these bad boys. They contain less cocoa butter than chocolate bars, which is why they retain their shape when baked. Store tightly wrapped and it will last long enough for you to consume everything.
Butter: Most recipes require unsalted butter. If you only have the salted kind, one workaround is to remove any other salt added to the recipe.
Cream: You need cream with at least 30 percent fat in order to whip properly. Heavy cream has 36 percent.
Eggs: Always use large eggs, unless otherwise noted.
Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract if you put a premium on flavor, but artificial extract works as well.
Salt: When salt is mentioned in most baking recipes, this usually means fine-grain salt. Rock salt types are sometimes desired for added texture and crunch. As long as stored away from dampness and tightly sealed, salt lasts forever.
Keep your pantry stocked with these staples, and you will be ready to bake any time of the day. What other baking essentials do you keep in your cupboard that you can’t do without? Tell us by leaving a comment below.