Yesterday, I posted my list of pantry and refrigerator staples, and some simple meals that could be made using mainly those ingredients. I have a separate list of ingredients that should be kept in the house for baking, which overlaps the list of basic staples a tiny bit. If you have all of these things, you will be able to bake (from scratch) a variety of things including cookies, brownies, cakes, pancakes and biscuits. Here’s what you need:
- Butter (on regular staples list)
- Eggs (on regular staples list)
- White Sugar (on regular staples list)
- Brown Sugar
- All-Purpose Flour
- Self-Rising Flour (This is really just flour with some baking powder in it, but its convenient for scratch-cooking in a hurry)
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Quick Oats (not the kind in tiny packets; the kind in the cardboard canister)
- Vanilla Extract
- Cocoa Powder
- Chocolate Chips and/or baking chocolate
- Peanut Butter
- Cooking Oil (I use Canola)
Here are six things you can make with just these ingredients; the additional items you would need to buy are in green:
If you buy a pint of heavy cream, you can make these biscuits, which are tender and fluffy and impressive.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
I use the recipe from the “Toll House” package, and its a great place to start, especially since you will have every single ingredient you need. (Unless you want nuts in your cookies, in which case you’ll need to buy yourself some nuts).
(Adapted from the Martha White Self-Rising Flour Package)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- Blueberries, bananas, strawberries, chocolate chips, or other exotic flourishes (optional)
In medium bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and oil or butter, and mix well with a whisk or fork. Add all remaining ingredients (except fruit and chocolate chips) and stir just until large lumps disappear. (You really want to avoid over-beating or you’ll have tough pancakes. The little lumps are desirable).
Heat griddle or large skillet to medium-high heat. Grease lightly with oil. (I use cooking spray, my husband uses butter, Canola is fine, too). Griddle is ready when small drops of of water sizzle and disappear almost immediately.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. If you are adding fruit or chocolate chips, this is the time to sprinkle them lightly over the surface of the pancakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, or until air bubbles begin to break on surface. Turn, and cook 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.
You can now make these, although you may not have quite as many additions as you will after you’ve been baking for a while. For now, you can just add some of your chocolate chips or some chunks of your baking chocolate.
I use a standard one-bowl brownie recipe like this one, although I try to use the best chocolate I can find (I like both Valrhona and Scharffen Barger). Sometimes, though, I just use regular old Baker’s or Nestle’s and the brownies are perfectly delicious.
Okay; this is kind of cheating because, well, they’re “no-bakes,” but they belong in this general category of food, and now you have everything necessary to make them if you buy some milk. (And yes, the skim you already have in the refrigerator is perfectly fine for this). The recipe is here.
You can, of course, bake all kinds of other things using mainly these ingredients, but this is a start. You can dazzle those nearest and dearest to you by whipping up a batch of hot biscuits to go with soup, you can get up early on Sunday morning and make everybody love you (even more) by making pancakes, or you can take care of a major chocolate jones without leaving home.