Maybe you’re looking for a new hobby to survive the rest of lockdown, maybe you’re jumping on the ‘banana bread’ trend a couple months late, or maybe you’re looking for ways to make those sweet treats you love so much yourself! Whatever made you decide to start baking, it was the right thing. But before you get to the stage of the air smelling of chocolate and vanilla, there’s a couple things to get done. Any seasoned baker will tell you that the first and most important step to baking is to stock your kitchen the right way. Having your baking staples on hand, neatly organized, is the best way to dive headfirst into baking. Read up on exactly what your next trip to the supermarket will have to fulfill, and how you can best store them.

Baking Basics

The beauty of baking is that there’s a world of things to be made from a handful of basic ingredients. Understanding your baking staples lays a good foundation for you; after all, you can’t possibly mix them around to magically create something without knowing just what you did! Here’s a run down on baking staples, further expanded into types and storage methods below.

That’s it. Mastering these 5 ingredients is all that stands between you and those coveted Instagram-worthy creations. Make sure you correctly understand each type, and whether or not you need to stock them in large quantities depending on what you intend to bake. There’s few things more painful than seeing baking supplies shooting past expiry dates.

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1. Flour

This humble ingredient is going to be your best friend, as it helps build structure in whatever you’re baking. Flour in the kitchen is a must, especially if the kitchen belongs to a budding baker. The standard type is All Purpose flour; as the name suggests, it can be used in 90% of all your recipes. If you’re making use of every last inch of space while you wait for your dream pantry to come along, simply stock up on all purpose flour. There are also other varieties of flour that you can stock up on if you choose to.

  • Bread Flour: It’s higher protein content means it is perfect to make bread, pizza dough, or anything that needs a chewier texture.
  • Cake Flour: Lower protein content equals fluffier, lighter cakes and pastries.
  • Self-rising Flour: This one comes with salt and baking powder already added to it.
  • Whole Wheat Flour: Whole wheat flour uses both the bran and the germ.

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How To Store Flour:

All Purpose and bread flour is almost always shelf-friendly, making storage a no-brainer. Simply ensure you keep it in an airtight container to lower moisture and retain the flour for a longer duration. You may want to refrigerate the other types if you don’t use them as often. We definitely recommend refrigerating whole wheat flour since you may not be using all of it at once, and it tends to go rancid sooner than the others.

2. Sweeteners

Granulated sugar is the ‘all purpose flour’ of the sweeteners: it’s what you use when the recipe simply mentions using ‘sugar’. Alternatively, you have what is known as icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar. This is simply granulated sugar ground down to a fine powder. It is most often used in frostings and icing as the dust-like grains can easily dissolve with butter. Where would we be without these powdery delights? Ignore the tiny niggling voice whispering ‘diabetes’ while you discover just what other sweeteners exist.

  • Brown Sugar: Granulated sugar mixed with molasses. The liquid content makes the grains clumpier and gives it a slightly different, richer flavour. Light brown sugar has a little molasses while dark brown has a higher content.
  • Honey and Maple Syrup: Nothing like some healthy, more natural sugars to help sweeten things up!

How To Store Sweeteners:

Airtight all the way for regular sugar. You definitely want to keep any moisture away from it. Brown sugar on the other hand needs to be kept away from air, which can dry it out. Again, an airtight container should do fine, but we suggest pressing all the air out of a ziploc bag before sealing the brown sugar in. Honey doesn’t usually need refrigeration, while certain brands of maple syrup recommend refrigeration once the bottle has been opened.

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3. Leaveners

Leaveners are the fluff in your fluffy pancakes, and the bounce in the cupcakes. Basically, leaveners react with other ingredients to give your baked goods their rise.

  • Baking Soda: Any recipe with baking soda will include a more acidic component like yoghurt, cream of tartar or buttermilk. The baking soda reacts with it to form the rise. Don’t confuse it with baking powder!
  • Baking Powder: Baking powder is baking soda with the cream of tartar already added in. Since it already contains its acidic better half, you won’t have to add any extra.
  • Yeast: The classic ‘risers’, yeast is primarily important for bread makers. It’s always good to keep a little active dry yeast on hand nonetheless.

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How To Store Leaveners

Store your leaveners in your pantry or cupboard, at regular room temperature. It is especially important to check the expiry date on leaveners, and to not use them if they look or smell funny. Since they play an important role that involves a chemical reaction with another ingredient, you don’t want to mess around with it. Doing so can mar the quality of your baked goods, while also having them turn out flat and dense with little to no rise.

4. Dairy

No baking is complete without some milk, eggs, or a good old dollop of cream. Whatever the ingredient, stocking up on fresh dairy products is a sure way to whip up some delicious baked goodies.

  • Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter or margarine is a must for baking. Most regular, salted butter brands use their own quantities of salt in the butter. Using unsalted butter gives you complete control on how much salt goes into your recipe.
  • Eggs: A rule of thumb is to use large sized eggs unless your recipe states otherwise.
  • Milk: Not all recipes require milk, and some just require a tablespoon or two. Nonetheless, it’s good to have some on hand.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk works wonders when making pancakes or waffles.

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How To Store Dairy:

 This one should be a no-brainer – refrigerate them all! A good idea is to have one shelf of your refrigerator dedicated to all your baking supplements. Keep checking in on the state of your milk and buttermilk as these can spoil if not used for a long time.

5. Flavorings

These guys are what add that ‘oomph’ to whatever you’re baking, elevating it from a regular baked product to something your family can gush over, earning you internet points and real-time props.

Don’t get confused with the fancy jargon – a basic flavoring ingredient is good old vanilla extract. You can also have lemon extract, peppermint extract… get the hint? Flavorings add that whiff of smell and that delicious taste to whatever you’re preparing. What you stock up on depends on which flavours you use the most. Other common flavorings are cinnamon, cocoa powder, orange and lime zest or juice, etc.

How To Store Flavorings:

Make sure all your bottles are properly labeled and stored in secure containers, as spilling these will release a perfume too strong to stomach, leaving your kitchen smelling like the inside of a cake for a week.

6. Equipment

No kitchen meant for baking is complete without the equipment to go with it. After all, handmade cupcakes are still handmade, even if the equipment does half the job! Here’s a list of some basic equipment and things to stock your kitchen the right way.

  • Baking sheet
  • Butter paper
  • Oven-safe cooking dish
  • Oven mitts
  • Nylon spatulas and wooden spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixer grinder
  • Microwave oven
  • Electric handheld whisk

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How To Stock Your Kitchen The Right Way

The key to properly stock your kitchen the right way is to be as organized as possible. Allocate shelves and drawers to store your baking supplies if you don’t have a pantry to put it all in. Keep the most used items in easily accessible places, while certain leaveners and flavorings can be neatly stocked in the higher shelves. Ensure your equipment is easily within reach of a plug point so you don’t have to shuffle things around when you need to use it. Invest in airtight glass storage jars and containers, and label them all well.

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While the first step to baking involves organization, the real key to baking is to have fun. After all, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing that perfect batch of cookies or cupcakes come to life!

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