Whether you are moving into your own place for the first time or have 40 years of roots in your present home, having a well stocked pantry as a home baker is a must. As a home baker, I love baking any kind of yummy goodness. Bread, cakes, pies, and other pastries no matter what, having the right equipment and necessities makes creating a time of pleasure.
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Before you can even dig into the recipe books to find a recipe to create, knowing you have the right tools is vital. For example, cheesecake needs a spring-form pan. While there are hacks to baking muffins and cookies without the proper pans with good results, having a cupcake/muffin pan and cookie sheets make baking a heap easier.
The Well Stocked Pantry for the Home Baker
Baking Pans and Baking Sheets: Most kitchens have a set of jelly roll type pans. These are perfect for rolled cakes/jelly roll cakes (their namesake), homemade pizzas, cookies, and sheet pan dinners. They are considered cookie sheets by many home cooks. But in reality, they are not cookie sheets, because a true cookie sheet has no sides.
Pie plate/pans, 9x13 baking dish, ramekins are items to consider. Cake pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are square, round, tube, loaf, and spring-form just to name the most common. Depending on your baking need, you may need different pans.
Mixers: For many, a hand-held mixer is all they need. But for the more enthusiast home baker, they need a stand mixer. Thick dough for bread needs the power behind a stand mixer if not being mixed and kneaded by hand. For many years, I only used a stand mixer once my handheld mixer died. I recommend both the 5-quart Kitchen-Aid and the Bosch mixers.
Other Essentials: Bowls, measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks, cooling racks (not a must, but help in the cooling process), sifter, a good quality pastry bag and decorating tips, rolling pin, pastry brush, and food scale are all things to add to your well stocked pantry.
Flour: Having the correct flour on hand is a must when baking. The only difference between All Purpose flour and Self-rising flour is the added baking powder and salt to the Self-rising flour. For most baking recipes, you can use self-rising flour in the place of all-purpose. Cake flour is a more finely milled flour with a lower protein content. It makes a lighter cake. Bread flour is for bread, it has a higher protein content to help with gluten development. For those dealing with gluten-free recipes will need a gluten-free flour such as a nut (almond) flour.
The Well Stocked Pantry
Sweeteners: Granulated sugar comes from sugar beets. Granulated Cane sugar comes from sugar cane. You will find baking with cane sugar will produce a better tasting product. (I only bake with cane sugar)
Brown sugar contains granulated sugar with molasses mixed in it. Powder sugar is granulated sugar milled to a powder, it is perfect for dusting and icing. Caster sugar, Muscovado sugar, and Turbinado sugar are three types of sugar used. Bakers can use Honey and Maple syrup in place of sugar in recipes, but there is a rule in substituting to keep from ruining a baked good. For those on a low-sugar diet, Stevia is an alternative to sugar.
Staple Items: Salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cornmeal, cornstarch, cream of tartar, and spices. Most common spices used are allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Extracts like almond, lemon, and vanilla should be in the pantry. Vegetable oil, solid shortening, and nonstick spray are used in recipes and prepping pans (although, a solid shortening is best for greasing pans). Baking chocolate, chocolate chips, canned pumpkin and pie filling, dried fruit, food coloring, nuts, shredded coconut, and rolled oats completes the list of items that hold their shelf life. Cold items include eggs, butter, milk, whipping cream, sour cream, cream cheese, fresh and frozen fruits.
Do you have soon to be brides to be in your life? Consider giving a pantry shower for them. This would be a wonderful opportunity to help them create a well stocked pantry to start their new life without the worry of not having a certain item.