We are both keen bakers and understand that most people may not have the time nor the inclination to want to bake. These staples, together with a few other ingredients will give you a chance to make a quick dessert or cake when the need arises.
chocolate (dark 70%+ cocoa solids; and milk) and cocoa powder (70% + chocolate) are worth having to hand if, like us, you are partial to chocolate cake!
vanilla extract is a more concentrated vanilla and usually no more than a teaspoon is needed to give a nice sweetness to cakes and desserts. Do not be confused by vanilla essence, which is an artificial flavouring and has little flavour.
vanilla pods are used for flavouring milk and creams to flavour a variety of desserts. The seeds within the pods can be scraped out and used, then the pods themselves can reused in a jar of sugar to infuse the flavour in the sugar (tip – a far cheaper option than buying vanilla sugar from the supermarket!)
plain flour is used for pastry, pancakes, sauces as well as a great thickening agent (tip – if you run out of self-raising then make your own by adding 2tsp of baking powder for every 200g of plain flour).
self-raising flour is great for cakes, cupcakes and any baked goods that require a rising agent. Often used on its own, however some recipes will require additional raising agents.
baking powder is added to cakes and bakes to give a lightness to the recipe. Ensure your baking powder is stored in an airtight container and used by its ‘use by’ date as it may not give the ‘rise’ that you need for your baking.
bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) is a raising agent used predominately in heavier cakes such as gingerbread and soda breads, giving a lightness when baked.
sugar and sweetening
black treacle is also used in a variety of desserts and puddings such as gingerbread, Christmas puddings, fruit cakes or Yorkshire Parkin.
caster sugar is used in most cake recipes, finer than granulated it works well in sponges and meringues. We usually use white caster sugar but you can substitute unrefined caster sugar as it serves the same purpose (tip – if using unrefined caster sugar in meringues expect the meringues to be slightly darker in colour).
dark and light muscovado sugar is not as refined as the sugars above as it contains most of its molasses. Used to make dark, sticky cakes such as gingerbread as it has a taste of treacle.
golden syrup can be used in a variety of recipes including cakes, puddings, tarts and traybakes.
icing sugar is used to make icing, whether a simple icing mixed with just water, or one flavoured with eg lemon or orange juice. It’s also combined with butter to make buttercream icing.