One of the most important aspects of successful baking is being prepared. Deciding on the recipe you want to make, reading the ingredient list and then making sure that you have all the ingredients on hand. During the winters, especially in Montreal, being in the kitchen can bring warmth and sunshine to an otherwise snowy, blustery and gloomy day. I have learned, from experience, that the most frustrating thing of all is wanting to do something in the kitchen and then discovering that I don't have the right ingredients. When this happens I usually close the cookbook, turn the lights off in the kitchen and put on the Food Channel.
|Looking downtown in Montreal on a grey snowy day|
To help you avoid this impediment to your culinary fun I have developed a list of the most important pantry items that you should have on hand at all times. This is an updated list from the one that I did two years ago. If you keep this group of ingredients in your pantry you can bake away with no problem.
Light Brown Sugar
Dark Brown Sugar (the difference in light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses that is in the sugar)
Confectioner's Sugar (10X sugar)
All purpose flour
Cake flour (used for baked goods that are lighter in texture)
Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
Cream of Tarter
Fleur de Sel (sea salt - used for finishing)
Oatmeal (not the instant kind)
Meringue Powder (for decorated sugar cookies)
Shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
*Most of the dry ingredients last a very long time if kept in a dark place in a tight container.
Instant Coffee and Expresso powders.
Dark Corn Syrup
Light Corn Syrup
Dark Unsulphured Molasses
Condensed Mile (can be turned into Dolche de Leche - recipe to follow in upcoming blog)
Unsweetened Chocolate (comes in a blue box with 8 one ounce cubes)
Semi-sweet Chocolate (comes in a red box with 8 one ounce cubes)
Semi-sweet chocolate chips (Nestle's or Guittard)
White Chocolate Chips
Blocks of milk chocolate, 70% cocoa chocolate for finishing
Medium Size Marshmallows (if you don't want to make your own)
100% Madagascar Vanilla
All natural lemon, orange and peppermint extract.
Almonds (whole, blanched - you can always toast them)
** - Store all the nuts in the freezer whole where they will keep for one year.
Other Necessary Items
Baker's Joy (a spray that is a combination fo Pam and flour)
Whole Extra Large Eggs
Heavy Cream and Half and Half
With this list of ingredients you can make cakes, cupcakes, buttercream frosting, cookies, brownies, tea cakes, candy, marshmallows, caramel sauce, whoppie pies with different fillings - just about anything!