Most baking projects call for similar ingredients. Before taking on any new baking project, make sure you read the recipe in advance. If you keep most of the basic ingredients on hand, you will be set. But, if from your cookbook you choose a white chocolate and cranberry cookie recipe, you may have to pick up a few more items from the grocery store.
A large part of your basic baking recipes will call for either butter or margarine. Buy them in stick form for easier measuring. A lot of recipes call for eggs. Try to use large ones whenever possible. Another refrigerated item you may need for a baking project is milk. Substituting non-fat for whole milk may change the richness of the finished product so keep that in mind.
Most recipes will use all-purpose flour unless otherwise noted. You can also use this flour for rolling out pie crust or cookie dough and to prep a cake pan. There are three kinds of sugar you may want to stock in your pantry. Granulated will be used most often and brown sugar will come in a close second. Powdered sugar is mostly used for icings and dusting on cakes, so you can wait on purchasing this until you need it. Always keep both baking soda and baking powder on hand because you will use them both a lot. If you have a chocolate brownie recipe or a chocolate cake recipe that you might use frequently, consider purchasing a container of unsweetened cocoa to keep on hand.
Spices and Flavorings
The main spices that you will use are cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. These are items that you will want to stock. If you plan on baking anything with pumpkin, you can invest in those spices as you need them. The most important flavoring you will need is vanilla extract. You will use this frequently. You can purchase imitation, but for the best flavor, splurge on the higher quality vanilla if you can. You will find that an occasional baking recipe will call for a different flavoring other than vanilla. Purchase those when you need them.
Oils and Fats
A lot of baking recipes will call for vegetable oil such as canola or safflower. Buy a smaller bottle if you use this infrequently so it won't go bad on you before you use it all up. If you plan on making pie crust from scratch, you will need to keep a can of shortening in your pantry. Shortening is also great for greasing a cake can before flouring it and also great for greasing a pan for bar cookies. To stay on the healthier side, you can use a cooking spray to grease pans instead.
There are standard ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and oil that you will use again and again if you bake on a regular basis. If you find a sticky toffee pudding recipe that you have to try, you may need to make a trip to the grocery store for a few special items you don't have in your pantry. But, if you stock the basics in your kitchen, you will be ready when your sweet tooth begins calling.
Orla Hayman is a keen and passionate home baker who likes nothing more than helping other people develop their skills in the kitchen, in particular teaching people how to make delicious cakes, breads, and other treats with simple and easy baking recipes.