More often than not, baking is a planned event, but there are times when you decide to bake ad-hoc. In such events, what to bake depends on what ingredients you have at home. Whether you are a serious baker or a hobby baker, ensure the following ingredients are permanent residents in your kitchen. If you are wondering why should you bake bread at home when you can get it from outside then you must read 12 reasons why you should bake bread at home, Once convinced check out the essential ingredients list for baking.
Baking Soda: What is baking soda and its role in baking?
Baking Soda, sodium bicarbonate, is slightly salty in taste. To activate baking soda, you need an acidic medium like yogurt, vinegar, or buttermilk. Baking soda works as a leavening (expansion of batter caused by the release of gases) agent and is generally used in baking cakes. Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, hence the name Devil’s Food Cake. If you want to know the other magical benefits of baking soda –click and check out this.
Baking Powder: What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Like baking soda, baking powder is another leavening agent and works as a rising agent. Baking powder consists of baking soda, cream of tartar (acidic agent) and corn flour/rice flour which absorbs moisture and this is what differentiates it from baking soda, which needs the addition of an acidic medium for it to work.
Baking powder when combined with wet ingredients produces carbon dioxide and helps the mixture to expand. Excess of baking powder can make the cake bitter while less than suggested amount can result in a dense cake.
Fats: What are the different types of fats used in baking and how do they work?
There are many different fats that can be used for baking. The outcome of your recipe is based on the choice of fat you use. Butter, Margarine, Shortening, and Oil are few of them.
Semi-solid fats like butter, margarine when whisked in the flour, hold air bubbles and work as a leavening agent. It makes baked goodies light and fluffier.
Liquid fats, like the vegetable oil, can’t hold air bubbles hence results in less fluffy products. Butter is considered as a healthier option over margarine.
Margarine: What is it? Why bakeries prefer margarine over butter?
Margarine is a substitute for butter. Most of the bakeries prefer to use margarine mainly because of its lower cost. It was first developed in 1869 by chemist Hippolyte Merge-Mouriez for the French Navy. He used margaric acid, a fatty acid to prepare it and from there it got its name. At different points in history, 27 states prohibited the manufacture of margarine but with time, after few changes in its composition, it reached consumers to use.
Flour: What are the different types of flour used for baking?
Flour works as a binding agent in baking. When flour is combined with other ingredients, it develops into gluten. Different types of flours like all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, bread flour, millets, self-rising flour have different levels of gluten, which are suitable for various baked goods.
Eggs: Why do we use eggs in baking?
An egg a day keeps the doctor away. What? It’s not an egg, it’s an apple? Well, perhaps the person who wrote this was a pure vegetarian.
Eggs have many purposes in baking and sometimes it feels that baking without egg is partial baking. Eggs are widely used in baking cakes, cookies, custard, puddings, and pies. It is also used for brushing the crust of baked bread and buns to add shine and softness to the crust. The fat content in egg yolk adds richness to your baked item. People who are on a strictly vegetarian diet can choose bananas, applesauce, or tofu as a replacement for eggs.
Yeast: What is the purpose of Yeast in baking?
Yeast is a single-celled fungus that feeds on starch and sugar. It is the most important ingredient for bread baking. The word Yeast is derived from Sanskrit word “Yas” meaning boil. Yeast is used as a leavening agent for bread just like baking soda and baking powder in cakes or muffins.
When Yeast is fed with sugar, it releases carbon dioxide as a by-product. There are two types of Yeast – Fresh Yeast and Dry Yeast (active dry yeast and rapid dry yeast). Fresh Yeast is soft, moist and in the form of a compressed cake. It is mainly used in commercial baking. The shelf life of fresh yeast is no longer than 2 months. Dry Yeast is compressed and dried until only 8% moisture remains. It has a good shelf life and can also be frozen to extend its life.
Essence: Why do we need essence while baking?
Essences like vanilla extract are essential flavoring in many baked goods and enhance the taste. Baking soda and baking powder, upon reacting with other ingredients, can alter the taste. Adding essence will help you cover any alteration of taste. Based on the ingredients, you can use different essences like pineapple essence for pineapple cake, rose essence for mawa cake, butter scotch flavor for chocolate or coffee cake.
Salt: What is its role in baking?
Salt works differently when it comes to baking and is not just a taste enhancer. In cakes, muffins, cookies it helps to preserve the color and flavor of the flour. In breads, it controls the growth of yeast and provides strength to the gluten.
Nuts, Choco chips, Dried fruits – why do we need these?
It is not mandatory to add Choco chips or berries while baking. People generally add these to add flavor and crunch. If you don’t have Choco chips or berries then don’t panic. You can add readily available dried fruits or nuts. These will not only solve the purpose but will add nutritional value to the baked goodies. Kids who don’t eat nuts, add them to their cookies or muffins.
Sweetener: What is a sweetener and its use in baking?
Sweetener is the food for yeast. It helps retain moisture in baked items and helps improve the shelf life. Different types of sweeteners used in baking are granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, Jaggery Powder, honey, molasses, and Jams.
Liquids: What are the types of liquids used in baking and why?
There are three different types of liquids used in baking. Neutral liquids like water, acidic liquids like vinegar and alkali liquids like soda.
Liquids help in hydrating the flour and forming the gluten. Liquids also help in dissolving the solid ingredients and mix them together. Liquids add moisture to the baked item and increase the volume of the final product.
Water is the most commonly used liquid in baking along with milk, buttermilk, coconut milk, curd/yogurt, fruit juices, ciders, liquors, and eggs.
There you go, not so complicated, is it? All you need are few basic every-day ingredients and you can convert your kitchen into a bakery! Ok, not a bakery, but after a few trials, burnt cakes, sagging or domed crusts, and inedible cookies you will surely get a hang of baking. Follow us on Plattershare for more articles in this baking-series. Also, do share your baking tips and experiences in the comments section below.
Plattershare thanks Sonia for sharing her insights about baking bread. If you want to read her journey of baking and get inspired, Check out Breadography – my bread baking story . Once you are inspired you would be looking to buy few highly recommended baking books and here is the list for you – Top 10 baking books for beginners
About the Author: Sonia, the founder of Sonlicious, is known for her experimental healthy baking recipes on YouTube channel and her own food blog. She enjoys developing recipes, food writing, reviewing products and restaurants, and has recently started writing recipe books. She is on her mission of transforming Home Makers into Home Bakers and achieves this through her Healthy Baking Workshops. She also loves featuring renowned influencers in the food world on her blog. You can follow her on: Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blog