Monday, January 27, 2014

List Love // Essential Baking Supplies for the Novice Apartment Baker

Your first kitchen that's all your own and not your parents'? Ahhh, so much space!

Your dishes only take up, like, one cabinet shelf. A shelf for your plastic food storage containers, another for pots and pans, and one more for baking pans if you have them.

Utensils in one drawer, cooking utensils/pot holders in another, Ziploc bags/aluminum foil/plastic wrap/wax paper in the last one. 

That still leaves a lot of space. {Ideally. Unless you moved into some really, really small apartment or you have roommates coming out of your ears. Or you love cooking a heck of a lot more than I do. In which case, space may be more limited}.

If you're looking to fill some of that empty shelf space with baking supplies, I've compiled a list of the things I had in my college apartment that covered most of the bases and keeping them stocked meant rarely abandoning a baking venture due to lack of ingredients. {Did that make any sense?}.

Here's what you should start out with, until you figure out what works best for you.

+ at least a five pound bag of flour. more if you're hardcore. although if a recipe is saying you need more than five pounds of flour, I think you're reading it incorrectly.

+ ten pound bag of sugar. recipes always seem to call for an inordinate amount of sugar compared to flour. which if you have a sweet-tooth like moi, sounds a-okay.

+ brown sugar. if you want to be fancy-schmancy, you could have both light AND dark brown sugar on hand. I was fancy-schmancy. it was nice to have a choice, but ultimately, I don't think it made that big a difference.

+ baking soda. also comes in handy if you need to clean things.

+ baking powder. only comes in handy if you need to bake things.

+ eggs. at least six is ideal. you never know when the urge to bake will strike.

+ butter. I ONLY used the stuff when baking and I still went through a LOT during my two years in the apartments.

+ vanilla extract. duh. also, get the large bottle from Costco. you'll use a good portion of it.

+ cocoa powder. not one of those immediately obvious basic ingredients since boxed mixes for chocolate cake and brownies abound, but for the intense, only-can-be-this-chocolatey-if-made-from-scratch type of brownie/chocolate cupcake, this is needed.

+ canola/veggie oil. our apartment used olive oil for cooking, regular oil for baking. you don't want your cookies tasting like pasta.

+ one box of funfetti, one box of red velvet, and one box of chocolate cake mix. for those times when you want quicker gratification. or you forgot it was someone's birthday and need baked goods NOW.

+ cupcake liners. and lots of them. if you want to go a step further, have mini cupcake liners on hand, too.

+ powdered sugar. recipes require this more often than you might think.

+ cream cheese. delicious. good for frosting, cheesecake, eating... (:

+ food coloring. although I think I only used the red one {for red velvet cupcakes. nommm}. 

+ Bisquick. pancakes. waffles. nom.

+ cinnamon.

+ chocolate chips. the big size bag. from Costco. 72 oz of deliciousness. {I'm a fan of bittersweet, but the type is really up to you}.

+ graham crackers. needed for crusts and smores.

+ lemon juice. makes pancakes fluffier. when mixed with milk, substitutes for buttermilk. useful.

+ white vinegar. don't need A LOT, but having some around is good.

+ dried cranberries. personal preference. add to all the things.

+ can of pumpkin puree. you never know.

+ oatmeal. warning: I don't think I made anything with oatmeal in two whole years, but it seems like a nice thing to have on hand. I did EAT oatmeal for breakfast, I just never MADE oatmeal cookies/granola/whathaveyou.

+ aluminum foil. useful. never run out. if you line your stovetop with the stuff, you also won't have to scrub your knuckles off when you spill something.

+ paper plates with a lip! if you plan on sharing your baked goods, need these. splurge on the ones with a lip so your baked goods don't slide off the plate while walking across the street/down the stairs to deliver.

+ aluminum mixing bowls. I like these because they're so much lighter and easier to clean than glass ones, but it is true that you can't heat things up in them {ie: can't melt butter/chocolate chips in these without setting your microwave on fire}. I was okay melting ingredients in smaller microwaveable bowls and just doing more dishes later.

+ large baking sheet. those are the ones with a small lip and are used for cookies/Christmas crack. {if you don't know what that second one is, go make it right now. and thank me later}.

+ large baking pan. don't know if that's the official term for it. might be "roasting pan." point being, this is the pan that has taller sides than the baking sheet and is for brownies/cake/pretty much anything you want to cook, including dinner-esque foods.

+ muffin/cupcake tins. the full-size kind with room for twelve. it is preferable to have two of these available since most recipes make more than twelve cupcakes and it sucks to have to wait around for your one pan. extra credit if you have mini cupcake tins, too.

+ 8x8in baking pan. useful for making smaller batches of whatever you're making in the large baking pan. when cooking for one, this is the better option. I had two, which makes life a lot easier {see above}.

+ round glass bakeware. my apartmentmate brought this junior year. was super useful. did survive without it senior year though, so you might be okay without it.

+ whisk. a fork works too, if you want to use more arm muscle and take longer to mix the same thing. I obviously hang out with too many Asian people because they scoff at me and my whisk/fork-- they swear by chopsticks. I think they're silly. MORE SURFACE AREA, PEOPLE. *sigh*

+ electric handmixer. had one of these too. made life so. much. easier. when trying to mix bulkier items than a whisk can handle. if you're the fancy-schmancy type who doesn't mind losing a good portion of counter space, a stand mixer is nice. but it's not essential. unless you're superbaker {ie: making your own breads, baking enough cookies to feed the entire building, etc}. which I was not.

+ waffle maker. nom. nomnomnom. good not only for regular waffles, but also red velvet waffles, funfetti waffles, and from what I hear, hashbrowns. didn't try that last one though. let me know how that works out.

+ pancake pan. only good for pancakes. but pancakes are amazing. and since you'll be the only one of your friends in the apartments with a pancake pan, you will be a very popular person. just... make sure your takeout-inclined roommate doesn't try to use it as a watermelon cutting board. ):

+ cooling rack. so you can take your baked goods out of the pan and they won't sog on the bottom. remember to put a paper towel underneath it before you use it, though, or else all the crumbs will drive you nuts.

Things I Probably Should Have Had:
+ cornstarch. don't recall ever NEEDING it, but I know there were a few times I was very grateful for roomies who cooked, since that meant cornstarch was there if a need arose. probably good to have this around, though you most likely won't go through much of it.

+ cream of tartar. still don't really know what it is or what it does, but it's come up in recipes before. I always ended up making something else because I didn't have this ingredient on hand, so. *shrugs* clearly not super essential.


I thiiink that's it. If I remember anything else, I'll try to update this list. Warning: I'm working from memory here, not actually standing in the kitchen opening cupboards, so there may be things I forgot. I didn't add salt to the list because I thought that was pretty obvious, but if it's not, I can add it above.

Good luck, apartment bakers, and remember to save me some baked goods!

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