SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Thursday, March 04, 2010

Baking Essentials to Create Family Kitchen Memories | Family Economics

By Renee

One of my favorite memories as a kid was entering my Mama’s house and smelling freshly baked sugar cookies. Her cookies were special. They were HUGE and oh so soft, and she kept them in this special cookie jar that we kids could reach.

Today, people are too busy it seems to cook from scratch and with all the pre-packaged foods out there that make it easy, why not right? Well there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but let me tell you, my family knows when I’ve made something from scratch. They can taste it. They can feel it. It’s also a great stress reliever and gives you such a feeling of accomplishment in the end. And no matter if it’s ready to bake or scratch cooking, it’s about creating memories in my opinion.

Baking does not have to be some grand culinary project. The hardest part of baking is making sure you have all the essentials needed. This list is a good place to start and having these ingredients on hand ensures you’ll have plenty of time so that you’re not in a rush.

A few basic essentials that every baker needs are:

Flour - All-purpose flour is a must, but depending on what you are baking you may also need self-rising, wheat, or millet flour. Just be careful not to substitute the wrong flour in a recipe. Flours have different properties which can make or break the easiest of recipes.

Sugar - White and brown sugars are also a must when baking. Brown sugar can be found in light or dark. Light brown sugar usually works best when baking because it gives those baked goods a delicious flavor. Use dark brown sugar only when the recipe calls for it.

Butter or Margarine – Which is better? In most cases, one can be substituted for the other, but if a recipe calls for butter specifically, do not substitute margarine. Regular butter will give your recipe more flavor. When a recipe calls for butter, sweet, unsalted butter is best.

Cooking Oils and Sprays - When it comes to baking, oils rank at the top of important items to have on hand. They help to make our baked items moist and tasty. Non-stick cooking sprays make greasing those pans easier and more economical.

Baking Powder and Baking Soda - These leavening agents are an important ingredient in order for your baked items to rise during the baking process.

Eggs and Dairy Products - Eggs are the “glue” that hold your baked goods together. They are also a large part of the rising process. Most recipes will call for large eggs and these are the best bet for consistent results. Dairy products like milk and creams are a staple in many baking recipes as well.

Spices – These can make or break a recipe. Spices add flavor to baked goods. Apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice and other specialized spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, include a combination of several different spices saving you both time and money.

Bakeware and Cooking Utensils - Measuring cups and measuring spoons are very important, ensuring you add just the right amount of ingredients. A whisk, pastry blender and rubber spatulas are also necessary. An electric mixer, blender or food processor can help in cutting down preparation times.

Cookie sheets, cake pans, muffin tins, pie pans and brownie pans are all necessary when baking. Cake pans come in round or rectangular shapes and in all different sizes. Brownie pans are usually square and come in 8-inch or 9-inch sizes. Depending on just how in-depth you want to take your baking, you may also need tube, spring form, or Bundt pans.

Baking is something that anyone can enjoy. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the kitchen as well because they can help you with so much. I hope that when my kids are older, they remember the smell throughout the house of fresh baked dinner rolls and my own sugar cookies, just like Mama’s.

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