“If baking is any labor at all, it's a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation.” - Regina Brett

From chocolate cakes to madeleines, you’ll need the right ingredients.

Would you like to learn how to bake?

It can take you your entire life to learn how to be creative. Don’t worry, though, it’s easier learning how to bake. Here’s how to choose the right ingredients for your baking.

Getting Started with Baking: Choosing the Right Ingredients

Most people will understand that you need the right ingredients to bake properly.

Which is the best flour for baking?
The flour you use is hugely important. (Source: Bru-nO)

So how can you choose your flour, fats, sugar, or icing?

Here’s our advice for aspiring bakers.

Flour

Flour is one of the most common ingredients in baking. Be it cakes, muffins, pastries, or desserts, there are different types of flour that you’ll need to use. Some provide elasticity whereas others will provide plasticity.

Flour is one of the most essential ingredients in most recipes. Whether it’s with or without gluten or made from wheat, chestnuts, or coconuts, etc., there are several types of flour you can use depending on what it’s made from.

When people first learn to bake, they’re often told to opt for a T45 or T55 when baking. T45 and T55 flour is usually smoother. They tend to contain fewer minerals and nutrients but more carbohydrates and is white.

Organic flour will also contain fewer chemicals and pesticides from the grains. Some bakers will use cream flour, too. You can also use corn starch and potato starch as a replacement.

Find out more about getting started with baking.

Sugar

How do you choose the right sugar?

Many different types of sugar can be used in baking. Caster sugar, icing sugar, brown sugar, glucose syrup, etc.

Brown sugar is often used for making brioche, for example. You can use glucose syrup or even honey if you can’t find brown sugar and honey will stop things from crystallising.

What are the best substitutes for sugar?
Honey is a useful substitute for sugar in certain recipes. (Source: stevepb)

Fats

In most cases, you’ll need a lot of butter. Generally, a butter with at least 82% fat is recommended so forget about light butter and spreads.

For puff pastry or shortcrust pastry, you’ll need to use butter with 84% fat. It will add plasticity and will help with puff pastry.

Many bakers also use a spray as it saves time when greasing a pan or cake tin. They can also help when removing your food from the tin.

Check out some great baking recipes for beginners.

Essential Ingredients for Bakers

In addition to butter, sugar, and flour, bakers should have a whole host of other ingredients on hand.

For example:

  • Water
  • Salt
  • T45 and T55 flour
  • Whole flour
  • Corn starch or potato starch
  • Caster sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Glucose syrup (or honey)
  • Milk
  • Powdered milk
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Spray butter
  • White vinegar
  • Eggs
  • Egg products
  • Gelatine sheets
  • Yeast
  • Fondant
  • Frosting
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Baking sticks
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Couverture chocolate, dark
  • Couverture chocolate, white
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coffee extract
  • Feuilletine flakes
  • Food colouring

You can also improve your dishes with these:

  • Almond powder
  • Almond shavings
  • Marzipan
  • Hazelnut powder
  • Raisins
  • Apple compote
  • Raspberry purée
  • Canned pears
  • Glacé cherries
  • Apples
  • Lemons
  • Bananas
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberry liqueur
  • Pear liqueur
  • Rum
  • Kirsch

Dried fruits are good for tarts, cakes, flans, or even clafoutis. A lot of these ingredients are good for various creams, semolina, rice pudding, and cakes.

Strawberries are great with most desserts, aren’t they?

You can always add some powdered sugar to your creations or sprinkle some crushed nuts onto brownies or cookies.

Check out the essential equipment for bakers.

Other Ingredients to Have in Your Kitchen

Are you looking for something to make on a Sunday afternoon and can’t get round to the shops? How many times has this happened to you?

In the Kitchen

To avoid running out of ingredients, these are some of the things you should always have in your cupboards and fridge:

  • Milk chocolate
  • Dark chocolate
  • 70% cocoa chocolate (for chocolate mousse)
  • White chocolate
  • White flour
  • Salt
  • Yeast
  • Vanilla pods
  • Skimmed milk
  • Maple syrup
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Almond powder
  • Vegetable oil
  • Gelatine sheets
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Free-range eggs
  • Raspberries
  • Berries
  • Strawberries
  • Jam

Other Ingredients

  • Bicarbonate soda
  • Agave syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Cinnamon
  • Quatre épices
  • Muscovado
  • Demerara sugar
  • Oat flakes
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Corn starch
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sweets
  • Salted caramel
  • Nutella
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Round grain rice
  • Orange flower water
  • Agar-agar
  • Pistachio paste
  • Cream
  • Ricotta
  • Mascarpone
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Fresh fruit

Of course, you should adapt this list to what you’re currently making. Make sure you have the right tools, too: spatula, cake tins, whisk, blender, etc.

Can you use agave in baking?
Agave can be used in a lot of different types of food as an alternative to sugar. (Source: ArtTower)

Simple Dessert Recipes

To get started with baking, there’s no better way than to dive straight in.

Fortunately for you, the internet is home to plenty of recipes. Here are some simple ones to get you started.

Before you preheat your oven, read our tips for aspiring bakers.

Chocolate Cake

Have your mates just invited themselves round?

No need to make a pièce montée, a chocolate cake will do the trick.

What are the easiest baking recipes?
A chocolate cake is one of the easier recipes to get started with. (Source: huntlh)

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 80g flour.
  • 125g sugar.
  • 1 sachet of baking powder.
  • 1 bar of chocolate.
  • 4 eggs.
  • 125g of butter.

Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder before adding the beaten eggs. Mix this all together with milked chocolate and butter and cook at 180ºC for 30 minutes.

Tiramisu

Here’s a simple and effective recipe, tiramisu.

  • 250g of mascarpone.
  • 5 eggs.
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar.
  • 1 bowl of black coffee.
  • 2 packets of ladyfingers.
  • 100g of bitter cocoa.

Separate the egg whites and the yolks. Whisk the yolks and the sugar together and incorporate the mascarpone and beat until you get a smooth mix. Beat the egg whites and add the mascarpone with a silicone spatula.

Leave the ladyfingers to soak in the black coffee, cover the top with half of the mascarpone. Add a second layer of ladyfingers and then cover with the rest of the mascarpone.

Leave to sit for 8 hours in the fridge and cover with bitter cocoa before serving.

Almond Tiles

Here’s a classic for you: almond tiles.

  • 30g of almond shavings.
  • 60 grams of powdered sugar.
  • 2 egg whites.
  • 20g of flour.
  • 30g of butter.
  • 1 pinch of salt.

Pour the sugar, flour, almond shavings, and salt into a mixing bowl. Melt the butter, beat the egg whites, and add to the mix. Grease a baking tray and add the dough in little balls with the help of a soup spoon. Flatten each ball with a fork and spread them as thinly as possible.

Bake for 10 minutes. They’ll cool very quickly. Place the tiles onto a rolling pin covered in flour until they cool fully.

Now you just have to give these recipes a go.

If you need help with baking, consider getting in touch with a tutor on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available and each comes with a series of pros and cons and it'll be up to you to decide which type works best for your preferred learning style, budget, and personality.

Let's start with the type of tutorial that's usually the cheapest, group tutorials. In these tutorials, you'll be joined by several other students and you'll all be being taught how to bake at the same time. Since there are several of you, that means that you don't usually have to pay as much as everyone's paying for the tutor's time. However, this also means that the lessons won't be adapted or tailored to just you and you won't get as much of a say in what you get to bake and what you get to learn.

Face-to-face tutorials are great for those who have specific goals in mind and want a course or lessons that are tailored just to them. You'll be the only student attending the lesson and this means that you can talk to your tutor about what and how you want to learn. Of course, adapting each lesson to you and what you want to learn means that the tutor will have to plan a lot more outside of the session making this bespoke service more costly than group tutorials. You can often get the tutor to come to you and teach you from the comfort of your own home, too!

Finally, thanks to the internet, you can also be taught remotely with online tutorials. By using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can get a tutor from anywhere in the world to teach you at any time of the day! Since the tutor doesn't have to travel and can schedule more tutorials each week as a result, they tend to charge less per hour than face-to-face tutorials. Similarly, if you want to learn a type of baking from a specific country, you can get a specialist from that particular country.

Need a Cooking teacher?

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Krishna