Fall baking is my favorite. There is just something about those toasty spices and scent of vanilla hanging in the air as I pull cookies or muffins out of the oven. Or pie! Who doesn’t love a good apple or pumpkin pie? I know I do. I like to use this time of year as an excuse to stock my pantry and cupboards with fall baking essentials. This is definitely the time to do it – store shelves are loaded with all the goods. And the best part? This is also the time of year when all of these items go on sale. Score!
I do a lot of baking, so some items on my list are ones that I always have on hand. But others are ingredients more specific to fall baking. I don’t want to be in the middle of a recipe and realize I’m out of a spice or other important ingredient.
Stocking your pantry and cupboards with these fall baking essentials means you’ll be ready to bake that pie or batch of cookies at a moment’s notice! Keep reading to find out the items that I can’t be without.
Flour 1 of 10
All-purpose flour will cover most of your needs, so that's a definite must-have for fall baking. But I also like to keep whole wheat flour, bread flour and cake flour on hand as well. Bread flour has a higher amount of protein that makes for really good bread and rolls. Cake flour might seem like a non-essential, but it gives cakes a velvety crumb. Don't want to buy it? No worries. You can make your own! Babble.com's Sheri Silver shows us how to make our own self-rising and cake flour.
Sugar + Syrup 2 of 10
What's fall baking without a little sweetness, right? Be sure to stock a variety of sugars and syrups to cover all of your baking needs - molasses, maple and corn syrups, powdered sugar, brown sugar (light and/or dark), and granulated. Honey isn't pictured, but I keep plenty of that on hand also.
Butter, oil and shortening 3 of 10
There's not doubt about it, fat adds flavor to whatever you're baking. Whatever you like to use, make sure to have plenty so you don't run out. I keep butter (in the fridge) and shortening on hand for making pie crusts and other pastries. Oil is good for muffins. The darling of the moment is coconut oil which you can sub for butter, shortening or oil in just about any recipe.
Spices and Extracts 4 of 10
It's a good idea to periodically take inventory of your spice cupboard. Fall is the perfect time to do it! Spices lose potency over time and need to be replaced more often than you think. Check to see which ones you're out of and replace them. I like to buy mine in bulk because they are cheaper and tend to be a little fresher than the bottled kind. You never know how long they've been sitting on the shelf. Extracts keep a little longer, but it doesn't hurt to buy an extra bottle or two of the ones you use most. At our house that's vanilla and almond extract. I also keep vanilla beans on hand. They can be pricey, so watch for good prices and buy them in bulk. Costco carries them during the holidays and you an also find them online.
Leavening agents 5 of 10
Like spices, baking powder and baking soda don't last forever. Buy a fresh box of each if it's been awhile since you bought a new one. To check if your baking powder is still active, place 1/4 teaspoon into 1/2 cup of hot tap water. It should fizz and bubble. If it doesn't, toss it out and get a new container. To check if baking soda is still okay, place 1/4 teaspoon in some white vinegar. If it fizzes and bubbles, it's still okay to use. Yeast keeps for a long time in the freezer and fridge. But not forever. Check to see if it's still alive and active by proofing it. Add 1 teaspoon sugar to 1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F). Add an envelope of yeast and let it stand for 10 minutes. If it rises above 1/2 cup, it's fine to use. (Source)
Canned milks 6 of 10
I always keep a few different kinds of canned milk in my pantry. I use evaporated milk for pumpkin pie and fudge, sweetened condensed milk for caramel sauce and bar cookies, and coconut milk for cakes, muffins and breads.
Canned pumpkin 7 of 10
We can't seem to get enough pumpkin recipes during the fall, can we? I always keep at least 6 cans on hand and add more as I use them. Watch for good sales on canned pumpkin. It can be harder to find after the holidays and you never know when you'll crave pumpkin pie in March. :)
Dried Fruit 8 of 10
Raise your hand if you've pulled out the raisin jar and found that they've turned rock hard? (I'm raising mine.) I hate it when that happens! I also hate it when I think I have more and I don't. Stock up on raisins, cherries, cranberries, apricots, orange peel, ginger, dates, figs and other dried fruits. They do come in handy for baking, but also make good additions to salads, sauces, and stuffing.
Nuts 9 of 10
We like to add nuts to everything at our house - cookies, cakes, pies, salads, breads, and everything in between. I keep whole nuts and shelled nuts on hand for different purposes.
Chocolate 10 of 10
Chocolate. I couldn't NOT include it, could? I don't know that I need to say any more about it other than I feel a little happier knowing there's a good amount in my cupboard. Yes, for baking. Yes, for nibbling when I'm a little stressed out before (and after) a dinner party. Really, any time is a good time for chocolate. I stock up on bars and chips, cacao nibs, and cocoa powder. No cupboard or pantry would be complete without it! Happy Baking!