Staple Items For The Baking & Pastry Arts
Want to become a master in the baking & pastry arts, but are unsure of how to get started? Mastering cooking basics is important, especially when you are just beginning simple recipes. However, the ingredients that you keep in your pantry and fridge are incredibly important too.
When it comes to pastry chef training, you will quickly learn that the quality of your ingredients and measurements are key. Unlike traditional cooking – in which you can get experimental with ingredients – baking recipes are more scientific and require attention to the way things are mixed.
The good thing is you only need a handful of staples to get started! Read below for some key items you will need to add to your shopping cart the next time you are at the grocery store to make the most out of your cookies, cakes and pies:
This should come as no shock, but eggs are an important staple for almost any baking item you will come across during your chef training. Keep in mind, however, that all eggs are not the same. If possible, find the freshest, most organic and cage-free eggs available at your local market. Hens who have had well-rounded diets tend to produce the most delicious and pastry-friendly eggs.
These are flavoring items that help enhance the tastes of many cakes and cookies. Make sure to choose pure extracts that are dissolved in alcohol rather than preservatives or dyes for the best possible profile. For example, pure vanilla extracts are usually made with bourbon for an added punch.
Sodium bicarbonate – or baking soda – releases carbon dioxide during the baking process, which causes pastries and doughs to rise. It’s also very handy for cleaning!
Baking powder is similar to baking soda, except it also contains acid – which is usually in the form of cream of tartar. There are slow-, fast- and double-acting baking powders that are made depending on the amount of acid, so it’s important to read your recipes carefully before making a list of baking items. Baking powder also typically has a shelf life of 6 months, so make sure to keep tabs on this baking item.
It might seem nuts to think about including salt in your pastries and cakes, but it is nonetheless an essential ingredient for baking success. There are several types of salt, including iodized table salt (which is the most common), Kosher salt (which is additive-free and available coarse or fine) and sea salt (which is pure, evaporated sea water). Fine salt is easier to measure, and therefore better for baking purposes. Coarse salts are typically used for preparing meats.
This is another one of those things that simply has to be in your pantry at all times if you want to be a successful pastry chef. Due to gluten content, there are many different types of flour available for you to use, including all-purpose flour (also known as plain flour), cake flour (which is softer and chlorinated), pastry flour (which contains more gluten and is unbleached), bread flour, whole-wheat flour and semolina flour (which is perfect for making pasta).
Sugar has a wide range of functions in baking – from leavening to browning and preserving to tenderizing. Much like salt and flour, there are different types of sugar to choose from. Some of the most popular include granulated, confectioner’s (or powdered), coarse, dark brown and light brown, all of which have distinct flavors and uses.
Made from cream and included in just about every pastry you can think of, butter should always be in your fridge for your baked goods recipes. Unsalted butter works best.
Buttermilk, regular milk and sour cream are some of the most popular dairy items to use in your baking recipes. This is especially important if you are trying to make custards or sweet cakes, as they need more moisture to retain their shapes.
Loved the world over, chocolate is a favorite ingredient for many pastry chefs. Whether you are making simple chocolate chip cookies or a delicate and refined ganache, you are going to need a great source of chocolate in your pantry. For baking purposes, bittersweet and darker chocolates are very popular.
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