Building a Baker’s Pantry
By Carmela Villegas of Casa San Luis
(Note From The Fat Kid Inside: This week we are talking about Traditions on the blog. In any shape or form. Here, Carmela, as a follow up on her article from last week about Baking Equipment Essentials, tells us about what are the primary ingredients you would need to make any traditional or none traditional, pastries and sweets)
Everyone has in their kitchen essential ingredients to whip up a simple meal anytime. Just like cooking, aspiring “Pâtissiers” need to build their desserts pantry.
Here are some needed essentials:
In the refrigerator:
Eggs – Store your eggs in the refrigerator that way they don’t spoil too easily. This also makes it easier to separate the egg white and the yolk.
Unsalted Butter – Salted butter is not recommended because you might end up with salty desserts. Unless a recipe calls for salted butter stock up on unsalted butter.
Milk – Skim or Full Cream Milk. It really is up to you.
Cream – All purpose cream is always great to have around.
Cream Cheese – Very handy to have in stock if you love making cupcakes or cheesecakes. I also use this and make my own sandwich spreads.
Yogurt – Plain yogurt not only good for breakfast but also for desserts
Lemon – Lemon gives a punch to many desserts. Always nice to have it in the fridge.
Chocolate Chips: Start with semi-sweet chocolate chips. I prefer using Belgian dark chocolate bars and just chopping them, this way I get big chunks of chocolates in my desserts. If you have space, get white and milk chocolate as well.
In the your Pantry
Vegetable Oil – Many cake recipe call for oil when butter is not needed. Brush a coat of this to grease your baking pans.
All Purpose Flour – Test out the different brands out there and get the one that works well for you. This is used for most recipes.
Cake Flour – This is different from All Purpose because it has less protein which makes cakes fluffy.
Quick Cook Oats – Make sure to get this type of Oatmeal if not you’ll end up with crispy cookies and not chewy ones.
Baking Powder – Rising agent that helps your cookies and cakes expand while being baked.
Baking Soda – Used mostly in cakes because it reacts with the protein in cake flour so that you end up with airy cakes.
Salt – Choose coarse salt which is healthier than iodized salt. If you can get Fleur de Sel keep some in stock for those special desserts.
Cocoa Powder – Dutch processed Cocoa Powder is used for baking chocolate cakes and cookies.
Cream of Tartar – Stabilizer agent for firmer beaten egg whites.
Gelatin (Unflavored) or Agar-agar – Keep a small box in your kitchen for those days you want to make a light dessert such as a Panna Cotta.
White Sugar – Refined White Sugar is needed for most desserts
Brown Sugar – In the market, we can find dark and light brown sugar. Your cake batter or cookie dough will come out slightly darker if you use the dark brown sugar.
Coco Natura – For diabetics, having this coconut sugar around the kitchen is a great substitute to white and brown sugar.
Confectioner’s Sugar – This very fine powdered sugar is used in recipes that require quick dissolving sugar. It is primarily used in icing and frostings. It is mixed with cornstarch or flour therefore you can’t use this for sweetening drinks.
Agave Syrup – Is a diabetic friendly sweetener.
Ground Cinnamon – this spice is widely used in many desserts. If you want to complete your spice shelf, I’d add Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger.
Vanilla Beans – If you stumble upon Vanilla Beans take some for your pantry. They have a long shelf life as long as they are kept in a dark and dry place. You can make your own vanilla sugar or vanilla essence with these beans.
Vanilla Extract – Choose wisely some vanilla extracts taste and smell too much like alcohol.
Peanut Butter or Almond Butter – Choose your favorite brand.
Hazelnut Spread – Do I need to explain?
Nuts and Dried Fruits
What’s great with nuts and dried fruits is that they can be stored in the freezer for longer shelf life. The list of nuts and dried fruits is extensive.
Essential ones and easiest to find are Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Raisins, Prunes and Cranberry.
Almonds however are used in many desserts in powder form (Macarons, Financiers, etc). You can always make your own almond powder out of sliced almonds.
Candy Sprinkles – You find them in many colors. Stick to basic colors such as white and brown unless you have children at home then get a multicolored one.
Nonpareils – Decorative candy sprinkles in tiny ball forms. You can never go wrong with a gold colored one.
Food Coloring – This exists in gel, powder or liquid form. Again, choose whichever you’re most comfortable with.