There is absolutely nothing wrong with a cake from a box BUT I tend to bake from scratch more often than not these days. Growing up, I thought baking from scratch sounded more difficult than making something from a box. Then I learned that it is all about having a well stocked pantry!
Here are some of my favorite ingredients to keep on hand so that I can bake at a moments notice!
- Unbleached All Purpose White Flour – I know that we should all decrease our consumption of white flour but it is really needed for baking. Substituting whole wheat flour for all purpose can really change the final product you get from baking. I play around with substituting whole wheat for a portion of the flour in recipes. I also ALWAYS use all purpose flour instead of self rising. It is easier to find, cheaper and gives you more flexibility.
- Whole Wheat Flour – Even though it can change things, I like to add as much whole wheat flour to recipes as I can. If you are trying to change a recipe, start with substituting half of the all purpose flour called for with whole wheat flour.
- Yeast – I love making bread and it isn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Plus kneading can be very theraputic.
- Granulated Sugar – Almost all recipes call for at least a bit of sugar. Granulated is the most widely used in recipes.
- Brown sugar, both light and dark – You can interchange one type of brown sugar with the other so you don’t HAVE to have both but I like to.
- Confectioner’s Sugar – A must have for glazes and frostings!
- Baking soda & baking powder – almost all recipes call for one or the other or both.
- Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips – What recipe is not improved by adding chocolate chips? I buy semi sweet chips by the gigantic bag at Costco and keep them in a big resealable canister in my pantry.
- Sea Salt – I use the kind in a canister which has a small grain. It is much less processed than regular table salt.
- Peanut Butter – Unless you are allergic, peanut butter can be well used ingredient in both baking and cooking. My favourite brand is Adam’s Natural Salted peanut butter. It tastes like freshly roasted peanuts!
- Cocoa Powder – Because who doesn’t love chocolate?
- Butter – Okay this doesn’t really go in the pantry but it is essential for baking. Face it, butter makes everything better. Don’t bake with margarine….really….just don’t.
- Olive Oil and Vegetable Oil – for recipes that don’t use butter but when in doubt…butter.
- Pecans – Hey I’m Southern….is there any other kind of nut? Nope!
- Coconut – both sweetened & unsweetened.
- Agave Nectar – a less processed sugar substitute. I haven’t had great success baking with it instead of sugar but you can use it any time honey, corn syrup or other liquid sugars are called for. One perk in Calgary is that agave nectar doesn’t crystallize and harden like honey.
- Oatmeal – Definitely a must have for making cookies & granola!
- Cinnamon – My favourite spice for baking. I add it to everything!
- Vanilla Extract – Pay the extra money and get the real deal!
Baking from scratch allows you to customize your baking for exactly what your family loves. No chocolate chips? Easy peasy! Extra chocolate chips? Do you live in my house? It also allows you to bake for your family’s specific needs and allergies. Plus it is healthier. Fresh made baking doesn’t need or have all the preservatives that boxes and pre-made items do. Oh, and don’t forget….it tastes better!
Here are some of my favourite recipes made with the pantry staples listed above: