Baking depends on the harmony of accurately measured ingredients. Hence, it’s crucial that you know a lot about basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses. Moreover, we are providing below a baking ingredients list.
With many baking ingredients to choose from, which ones should you prioritize? After all, you can only store the ones you have space for.
You will be glad to know that you can narrow your baking ingredients into 10 essentials.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 basic baking ingredients that you must have in stock.
Each ingredient is hand-picked according to a baker’s need, so you can trust this list the next time you refill your kitchen cabinet.
Baking Ingredients and Their Uses
- Dry Sweeteners
- Wet Sweeteners
- Extracts, Flavorings, and Spices
10 Basic Baking Ingredients and Their Uses
Here are the basic ingredients every baker must have in their kitchen:
When you say baking, you will instantly think of flour. There’s no wonder here since flour is the backbone of baking. From cakes to cookies, almost every baked treat calls for flour.
While you can bake most treats using the mighty all-purpose-flours, there are instances in which other types are better used.
Given this, here are the most common types of flour you should know about:
Since it can be used to make many baked treats, all-purpose flour is the most common kind of flour.
All-purpose flour is usually made from low-gluten soft wheat and high-gluten hard wheat. It has a fluffy and light texture produced by removing all of the bran and wheat germ.
Bread flour is best used in making crusty loves, rolls, and pizza dough. Hence, it’s worth keeping it if you bake a lot of bread.
This type of flour contains more protein. Hence, it has more gluten, making it great for baking chewy yeast bread.
As its name suggests, cake flour is best used to make desserts like this chocolate graduation cake.
Cake flour contains lower gluten and protein than all-purpose flour. In addition, it goes through chemical treatment and fine grounding, producing a fine texture.
2. Dry Sweeteners
Any dessert calls for sweeteners. To better explain baking ingredients and their uses, we divided sweeteners into two main categories― wet and dry.
Hence, sweeteners are another baking ingredient that you should stock up on. Let’s start with dry sweeteners.
Most recipes call for white sugar. When a recipe says sugar, it usually requires white sugar. Made from sugarcane or beets, this sugar has been stripped of molasses to look white.
Unlike white sugar, brown sugar is not stripped of its natural molasses. Sometimes, molasses are added to it to produce a darker color.
Brown sugar is available in light, medium, and dark colors.
Also known as confectioners’ sugar, this sugar went through intense grounding. Hence, it has an extra fine texture.
Due to its texture, powdered sugar is used to make frosting and icing. It is used to garnish desserts like bavarian donuts.
3. Wet Sweeteners
Some recipes call for wet sweeteners for one main reason― they’re in liquid form. In addition, common wet sweeteners are usually healthier than their dry counterparts.
Here are the most popular wet sweeteners in the market. Depending on the recipe, you can substitute dry sweeteners with the following:
Honey is the healthiest wet sweetener. Made by hardworking bees, it offers a more delicate flavor. It is also used by health-conscious bakers because it contains more nutrients than granulated sugar.
Pure maple syrup is another healthy alternative to granulated sugar. The darker its color, the stronger flavor it has.
Professional chefs prefer dark maple syrups for cooking and baking.
Interestingly, agave nectar is made from the sap of the same plant used to make tequila. Don’t worry, it will not get you drunk.
Agave nectar tastes like honey and can be used as a substitute for it.
Leaveners are substances that cause chemical reactions. They make dough and batters rise. Hence, if you want to make airy and fluffy desserts, you need leaveners.
There are two types of leaveners― biological and chemical. Here are the most common leaveners in the market:
Yeast is a biological leavener. It works slower than chemical leaveners, as it takes time for its cells to metabolize. Due to this, you have to leave your dough for an hour or more so it properly rises.
In addition, yeast can be stored in your kitchen for months. However, you must test if they are alive before using them.
Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a chemical leavener. It works when mixed with acidic ingredients like milk, lemon juice, and cream of tartar.
Baking powder is another chemical leavener. It is baking soda mixed with cornstarch and powdered acid. Hence, you don’t have to add acidic ingredients when using it.
When you use double-acting baking powder, it will form carbon dioxide twice― when mixed and heated.
Salt is used in everyday cooking. So, it’s a relief that it is a basic baking ingredient as well. In this basic and essential baking ingredient and their uses list, we feature two kinds of salt. Here they are:
Due to its fine texture, granulated salt works well with baked goods. It can also be measured more accurately.
In addition, some bakers prefer non-iodized salt. It is because iodized salt produces a different, often unpleasant flavor.
Sea salt works well for garnishing because of its grainy texture. It also enhances that decadent chocolate flavor.
Crunchy sea salt is often sprinkled on baked goods like chocolate chip cookies. Remember, sea salt works as a garnishing ingredient, not a measuring one.
There are rumors about white and brown eggs. Some claim that brown eggs are better because they have more nutrients. Others prefer white eggs because they taste better.
However, there is no scientific proof that brown eggs are better than white eggs and vice versa. No matter what the grade or color of an egg is, it is still an egg.
Hence, for the sake of these basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses list, we’ll talk about eggs. After all, brown and white eggs are equal.
If there’s one egg-related thing that matters most in baking, it’s the size. Most recipes require large eggs because they provide structure. In addition, the right balance between the eggs and flour matters.
Thus, you must store large eggs. Large eggs approximately weigh 57 to 64 grams.
Milk gives dessert recipes the moisture they need. Hence, it qualifies for these basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses list.
Given this, you might want to keep at least a liter of milk in the fridge. Keep them refrigerated all the time. Here are the most common types of milk for baking:
Also known as full cream milk, whole milk offers a richer flavor because of the extra fat it has. In particular, whole milk has more than 3.5% of fat.
Whole milk is best used for desserts that call for a creamy, rich texture. Interestingly, whole milk also works best for ice cream. In addition, whole milk provides essential nutrients needed by the body.
As its name suggests, low-fat milk has less fat. Low-fat milk had its fat content stripped. Due to this, low-fat milk usually contains 2% of fat.
Some bakers choose buttermilk over regular milk. It is because buttermilk reacts with leaveners to produce a fluffy and tender texture.
Simply put, buttermilk is the liquid left after churning butter. If you want to store buttermilk for long, opt for its powdered version.
Fats work in various ways when it comes to baking.
For one, they tenderize baked goods by coating and weakening gluten bonds. They also provide the illusion of moisture despite having little.
In addition, fats help move heat during baking. This sustains the baking process. They also enable browning.
Here are the fats usually required by baking recipes:
Oil is totally made of fat. It does not have protein or water. It is naturally liquid at room temperature. Since oil does not have water, it helps the leavening process. It also helps create moist baked goods.
The most common oil used in baking is vegetable oil. There are oils such as cake oil made for specific purposes.
Butter has a better flavor than the other fats in these basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses list. Other fats do not have the rich flavor butter has.
Unsalted butter is the usual choice unless the recipe calls for salted butter. Since butter has a melting point under body temperature, it melts in the mouth.
However, you have to be careful with it. Never use hard butter for baking. Always let it sit out.
A common alternative to butter, margarine is another fat used in baking. Due to the butter or margarine debate, people are often confused about which to choose.
In a nutshell, margarine is processed fat. Experts designed it to taste and look similar to butter. However, professional bakers can taste the difference.
Margarine is usually made from vegetable oil, making it a healthy substitute for butter.
Shortening is vegetable fat in solid form. Bakers use it to replace butter. Some mix it with butter to make tender crusts.
It has a higher melting point than butter, so it tends to keep the shape of treats like cookies better.
9. Extracts, Flavorings, and Spices
As you may well know, basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses list must include stuff that adds flavor to your treats.
Enter extracts, flavorings, and spices.
Extracts are made by extracting the flavor of an ingredient. They come in liquid form. Due to this, they are usually used in making iced summer desserts.
Let’s take vanilla as an example. To produce a vanilla extract, all oils from vanilla beans are pressed out. Then, the product is placed in a liquid base (usually alcohol). Doing this captures vanilla’s ideal-for-baking flavor.
You can find hundreds of extracts in the market. The most common ones include vanilla, lemon, coffee, and almond.
Flavoring takes things a step further. In a gist, flavoring is like extract, but with better flavor. This is because flavoring usually contains emulsifiers, a blend of two or more unmixable liquids.
In the Philippines, there are two main types of flavoring― flavocol and emulco. Flavocol stands for flavor and color. Emulco stands for emulsifier and color.
Spices come in powder form. Due to their nature, spices are great for dry mixes, rubs, and other baking applications. They also work well as a garnish.
When you say spices, bakers usually think of cinnamon. However, there are other spices you should consider for storage. These include nutmeg, fennel seeds, pumpkin spice, and sesame seeds.
A lot of recipes call for chocolate. It is a popular component for cookies, cake, and bread. Hence, it deserves the last spot in this baking ingredients and their uses list.
As you may well know, chocolate comes in many forms. Depending on the desserts, like our No-Bake Dream Cake Chocolate, you bake often, consider stocking up on these:
As its name implies, this kind of chocolate is made of milk and chocolate.
Milk chocolate is known for its great balance between sweet milk and bitter cocoa. It has a velvety, creamy, and rich texture provided by its ingredients.
Dark chocolate has more cocoa components than milk or white chocolate. This ranges from 50 to 90%. The higher the percentage, the more bitter it is.
Bakers usually prefer using 70% dark chocolate. Despite its bitter taste, dark chocolate provides a delicious hint of cocoa in any recipe.
Chocolate in powder form, you should stock up on cocoa powder as well. When added to the wet batter, cocoa powder produces a rich, chocolatey flavor.
In addition, the cocoa powder goes well with baking soda because it contains acid.
Knowing the basic and essential baking ingredients and their uses helps you figure out what to prioritize. This baking ingredient and their uses list also help you shop quickly.
While you’re at it, complete your baking setup by knowing the basic baking tools and equipment you need.
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Lysias (Lysh for short) is a Social Work graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She has over seven years of experience in content marketing.
With a sweet tooth and thirst for mind-blowing content, she is the resident SEO content strategist for HICAPS. Lysias is also the founder of a digital marketing agency called Digifolia. When she’s not in front of the computer, Lysias bakes melt-in-your-mouth donuts and plays with her sweet, adorable dogs.