My vote is to stock your baking pantry for practical needs (holiday brunches and cookie exchanges), but to do it with fun in mind. During the holiday baking sprint, call on favorite recipes then give them a seasonal spin. If a sugar cookie recipe never fails you, but you’re interested in a bit of a rev-up, these pantry staples can add a little excitement.
Baking Chocolate Bars
These are so handy to have around for any recipe that requires melted or chopped chocolate. We carry Fair Trade Divine Chocolate Baking Bars that are not only gorgeous and giftable, but stack nicely in a cupboard taking up way less room than lots of chocolate chips. Frankly, it’s nice to have a chocolate bar around that can do double duty – great for baking and snacking alike.
I am beloved (notorious?) for using nutmeg in just about everything, but I call on other warm spices, too. My favorite trick is just to add a little grating of nutmeg, a touch of cinnamon or a sprinkle of ground cardamom or ginger to any baking recipe standby for an instant boost. Chocolate chip cookies just got fancy and your favorite coffee cake recipe revealed it winter makeover.
Also very cool, Whole Foods Market's dried spices are never irradiated or sterilized using ethylene oxide, a common industry practice that is not allowed by our stringent quality standards. And we have lots of organic and Fair Trade options, too.
Vanilla is a pantry workhorse, acting to enhance more robust flavors but also taking center stage when needed, but it’s not the only extract you should have in your arsenal. Adding just a drop or two of pure orange extract to maple syrup sends your Sunday brunch over the top, while almond extract adds a warm nuttiness to scones and muffins. Also keep your eyes peeled for rose and orange blossom water for adding floral notes to baked goods.
This gluten-free baking post has me feeling like the possibilities are endless. Whether you need to eschew gluten entirely or can embrace all flour varieties, having a selection to work with will greatly expanded your baking options. Add a little almond flour to your pancake batter or swap whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose in a muffin recipe.
Having a modest selection of salts makes baking that much more fun. We use fine sea salt in most of our recipes for a clean flavor and easy-to-control measurement, but adding a little sprinkle of fleur de sel, a flaky sea salt or a flavored salt can add an unexpected finish to cookies or muffins or anything really.
What do you always have stocked in your baking pantry? Anything you just break out for the holidays? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.