Lockdowns and stay at home orders have seen an upswing in the art of baking across the world. So much so, that flour sales have soared by 160% in some countries.

In the process, many people have discovered that baking’s one of the best and most useful hobbies around these essential baking ingredients. It’s fun, it has a delicious outcome, and it can be as challenging or as easy as you like for your recipes.

Most Essential Baking Ingredients You Need

The best part is you bake without all the fancy equipment you see on cooking shows. You can make simple recipes using these essential baking ingredients ordinary kitchen equipment.

One thing you can’t do without are the correct ingredients to get started.

Check out this list of essential baking ingredients so you’re ready for action whenever the mood or necessity strikes.

1. Flours For Almost Everything

Flour is the backbone of almost all baking and is what gives baked goods their substance. Gluten is the non-soluble protein in the flour and acts as the glue that binds it all together.

Of course, nowadays you can get bread and other baked goods made with gluten-free flour too.

There are a variety of flours you’ll need for your baking efforts. These include:

All-Purpose Flour

This is the figurative jack-of-all-trades in the baking world. It’s good for everything from cookies to bread. All-purpose flour contains a mix of low-gluten soft wheat and high-gluten hard wheat that’s milled to remove all the bran and wheat germ.

There are a variety of flours you’ll need for your baking efforts. These include essential baking ingredients:

Cake Flour

This type of flour has the lowest gluten level of all flours. That’s so your cakes, biscuits, and scones, end up with a fine texture.

If you can, always use cake flour and not all-purpose flour for best results when baking cakes. It’s also a long-lasting flour and keeps in the pantry for up to eight months.

Bread Flour

Bread Flour has the highest levels of gluten and suits yeasted bread to the tee. This essential baking ingredients gives the bread a substantial chewy texture.

You can get wholewheat, bleached, or unbleached bread flour. Always store self-rising flour in its original box, tightly wrapped. It lasts for about six months on the shelf.

Self-Rising Flour

This type of flour takes some of the guesswork out of baking because it has baking soda and salt added. You can use all-purpose or cake flour in place of self-rising flour in a pinch if you add your own baking soda and salt.

Usually, the ratio is one teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of flour and a teaspoon of salt for the whole recipe. Don’t substitute self-rising flour for other types of flour though, it seldom works out like you imagine it will.

Other types of flour include cornmeal for baking cornbread and some types of pancakes and waffles, and cornstarch which acts as a thickening agent for sauces.

2. Leaveners For Flop-Proof Baking

Leaveners are essential baking ingredients if you want your baked goods to rise in the oven.

These ingredients cause a chemical reaction that fills your batter with tiny gas bubbles to make it rise during baking. There are two different kinds of leaveners i.e. natural ones like yeast and eggs, and chemical ones like baking soda and baking powder.

Baking soda’s also known as sodium bicarbonate and it’s activated by acidic ingredients like buttermilk. Baking powder consists of baking soda mixed with acid and cornstarch. It forms bubbles when it’s first added to moist ingredients and again when you heat it.

3. Salt Is Central to Successful Baking and Cooking

Even sweet recipes call for the addition of salt since it helps bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients. You can use ordinary table salt in most recipes although most bakers prefer to use the non-iodized variety.

Other types of salt used in baking include kosher salt, sea salt, and rock salt. Yeast works slower than the other types of leavening agents and usually needs at least half an hour to work its magic.

4. Sugars – For the Sweetest Experience

Granulated sugar is by far the most important ingredient when it comes to baking. Some recipes use brown sugar or raw sugar which still contains natural molasses.

White sugar’s refined until none of the natural molasses remains. Brown sugar’s delicious in spiced biscuits and cakes.

Sugar’s also used to make sweets and confectionery like fudge.

Confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar

It is a type of granulated sugar that’s ground into tiny particles and mixed with starch. It’s used for frosting and icing or as a light dusting on certain baked goods.

Sanding sugar consists of large granules of granulated sugar used to give some baked goods a crystalline finish. It’s available in rainbow colors for maximum decorative effect.

Some of the other sugars you might use when you get more adventurous in your baking efforts include coconut sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, honey, molasses, and syrups.

5. Fats Add a Little Extra Flavor to Your Baking

Butter adds a wealth of flavor to any dish and it’s one of the main baking essentials used to bind ingredients together in cakes. Oil’s most often used in muffins and shortening made from animal fat is a good substitute for butter in some recipes.

You can also use butter or shortening to grease your baking trays and prevent things from sticking.

Wax paper’s another way to prevent things from sticking during cooking. You can get it from your nearest baking store or online from outlets like Amazon, https://thesmartbaker.com/, or eBay.

6. Dairy and Eggs Are Central to Basic Baking

We’ve already outlined the role of butter in baking. Unsalted butter’s the best option for baking unless your recipe specifies otherwise. Butter’s easy to store in the freezer and a versatile ingredient that features in many recipes, so stock up.

Eggs are another one of the most essential ingredients for baking. They help bind everything together and can act as a leavening agent if you whip the white beforehand. Most recipes are referring to large eggs when they list eggs as an ingredient.

Margarine Poor Substitute for Butter

Milk is the best way to add moisture to cakes, waffles, pancakes, and more. You can use low-fat and full-cream milk interchangeably in recipes.

Other types of dairy that you might use in baking include buttermilk, cream, cheese, and cream cheese.

Dairy alternatives include soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and almond milk.

7. Extracts and Flavorings

Vanilla is by far the most popular flavor used in baking. You can use vanilla essence for baking, but the flavor doesn’t compare to pure vanilla extract.

Other popular extracts include almond, lemon, mint, rum, orange, and brandy flavors. You won’t use any of these regularly and they have a very long shelf-life thanks to their high alcohol content.

So, don’t rush out and buy them all at once, rather stock up as you try new recipes that require these ingredients.

8. Spices For the Extra Edge

Spices are wonderful for creating comfort foods of every kind. They’re used in a host of biscuits and pies as well as pastries.

Cinnamon and ginger feature most regularly in baking but you could also try recipes with allspice, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Freshly ground spices are best but if you want to store them for a longer time, ground bottled spices work well too.

You can grind spices in a coffee grinder, Micro-plane grinder, or a mortar and pestle.

Other Essential Baking Ingredients

You should also keep stocks of your personal favorites in your pantry or refrigerator. If you’re a chocolate lover, stock up on chocolate bars, chips, and cocoa powder so you’re well prepared when the craving strikes.

Other useful add-ins include raisins and other dried fruit, oats, and nuts.

Jams, jellies, and nut butter also come in handy for some recipes. Always keep stocks of your favorite candies for decorating on hand too, like sprinkles and silver balls.

Learn New Skills and Thrive

Now that you know the essential baking ingredients and what they’re used for, you’ve got no reason not to give baking a shot.

Start small with simple recipes and you’ll be whipping up delicious treats in no time at all essential baking ingredients. All it takes is one successful batch and you’re almost guaranteed to get hooked on this useful hobby.

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