Baking Supplies

Baking Chocolate

This is chocolate that comes in a bar. It's solid and is usually melted and then incorporated with other ingredients. It comes in different varieties of sweetness, or as I usually use it: unsweetened. There's a huge range of quality for this ingredient. A good guide is to use the best quality that you feel is affordable. The difference in quality has to do with the type of cocoa beans used, the choice of additives which make it possible for the beans to turn into a solid bar, and of no little importance: the process by which the beans are turned into a solid bar of chocolate. I've found Ghiradelli to be a good all around choice, though some of the more expensive brands I've used have produced more spectacular results. For some of my more mundane baking, I've used Baker's with very tasy results as well. You can have a little fun shopping for this ingredient!

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Baking Powder

This is one of my often used baking companions. It works well as a leavening agent for many delicious baked goods, from the savory to the sweet.

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Baking Soda

A very useful leavening agent for quick-breads and all kinds of cakes ... used when some of the ingredients may be either fruit or sour cream.

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Bittersweet Chocolate

This chocolate gives a real zing to certain products such as cakes, brownies, and frostings. Usually, semisweet chocolate can be substituted. Use the best quality chocolate you can. Ghiradelli is quite good and readily available. There are many other excellent brands, such as Valrhona.

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You'll note I've listed brandy as a "baking supply." A few of our holiday goodies have brandy as an ingredient, and, just as I use vanilla, when called for, I use brandy as well.

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Definitely one of my most favorite ingredients. I fall into the category of chocolate fanatics. I'm not sure I'd call it addiction. Not just any chocolate will do. We fanatics have our particular criteria without much allowance for alternatives.

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Chocolate morsels

We use these in many different ways: for cookies of course, but also for frostings, sauces, and wonderful hot cocoa.

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Cocoa, unsweetened

While cocoa is often a baking supply, it is also an essential ingredient in hot cocoa.

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Cornstarch is very useful as a thickening agent. In connection with using cornstarch I once gained important information from a very seasoned cook, and excellent pie baker. She was visiting one time and offered to prepare a lemon meringue pie, a favorite of mine. However the filling of my lemon pie was always too soft, and never cut the way the beautiful pictures portrayed. This wonderful cook explained that when she measured cornstarch, she always packed it into the spoon. I remember her recipe had 7 tablespoons of cornstarch, and they were well-packed spoons. The pie was so wonderful that I immediately trusted her pointer, and now feel very confident of the results when making lemon meringue pie, and other constarch-based recipes.

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Cream of Tartar

While I'm not exactly sure what it does, this ingredient is almost always called for when preparing egg whites to be whipped and baked or heated in any way. The results are good. That's what's most important.

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Minute Tapioca

I have a preference for using tapioca as a thickener in fruit pies. Tapioca helps produce a pie with clear, slightly thickened juice, without any added flavor

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White Chocolate Morsels

Though not a great fan of white chocolate candy, I do find that white chocolate can be an essential baking ingredient, especially in White Chocolate/Cream Cheese frosting.

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Yeast breads are wonderful to make. When I first started baking with yeast, I was so careful to follow the instructions but I've learned that such recipes are quite forgiving. It's a good idea to have some idea of the dough consistency needed. A sense of that comes with experience. I enjoy using up little leftovers in some recipes, for example a little leftover oatmeal, a little sour cream that needs to be used. While one is never quite sure of the outcome, a few alterations here and there always seems to add to rather than detract from the final product.

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