Have you noticed you’ve been pinning more pumpkin and apple recipes lately? Haven’t you been thinking about reaching for the cinnamon and nutmeg a little more often? Maybe you’ve felt a little chill in the air early in the morning that wasn’t there before; or you’ve been unconsciously setting aside light summer clothes for cozier options. It’s time – Fall is almost here!
For all of us here at Hodgson Mill, Fall means baking. In order to have a great, frustration-free season, you might like to take a few minutes now to take stock of your kitchen and get it in order for the upcoming parade of treats you’d like to make –maybe even that Christmas Cookie baking marathon?
Here’s a list to help get you started. We hope to offer a few more posts with tips & info like this one in the future - any topic suggestions are welcome!
Pantry Cleanup: Check Expiration Dates
(Too cute - photo by Elaine Ashton, via Flickr)
This goes for all foods stored in your pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer. Even canned foods and staples like flour and sugar can go bad (or just as bad, attract bugs); and many spices (including cinnamon) lose their flavor over time. Set yourself up for a great baking season with the freshest ingredients!
If you have the time and inclination, it’s a great chance to wipe out cabinets you may not have touched since spring cleaning.
Declutter your equipment
If you’re like us, you have a couple sets of measuring cups and spoons – but you know which set you always reach for. Donate any that you’re not in love with, and if you can, treat yourself to a set that makes you smile. Check to see if your pans and baking sheets are in good condition and either clean or replace as needed.
Clean your oven
Your oven is an important tool in your baking toolkit – make sure it’s in top condition before you enter into a baking marathon! Follow your manufacturer’s instructions, or try the natural method with baking soda, vinegar, and elbow grease.
Upgrade your Storage
Dry goods like flour and sugar should be stored in cool, dry places and protected from light. You might use resealable plastic bags, or sealed glass or plastic containers – all good choices. To extend freshness, consider keeping any whole grain flours in the refrigerator or freezer (remember to bring to room temp before you bake.)
Gather your recipes!
Organize your favorite recipes, and collect a few new ones to try! Whether you have an online collection, or an old-fashioned recipe box, a well-organized recipe collection is one of life’s little joys.
Some cute dividers for your recipe box (Etsy)
The best apps for digital recipe collections (Lifehacker)
Stock up on baking staples
Now that your kitchen’s in order, we bet you’re itching to bake that first batch of delicious cookies, or try one last late summer peach cobbler. Stock up on pantry staples to make sure your kitchen is ready whenever the baking bug bites!
Staples for Fall Baking – Check Your Pantry
- Sugar – granulated, powdered, and brown
- Honey, Maple syrup, Molasses
Fats & oils
- Vegetable oils
Spices & Flavors
- Dried orange peel
- Vanilla extract
Dried Fruits, Nuts, and Add-ins
- Raisins, Sultanas, Dried Cranberries, Dried Cherries, Dates, Prunes, or Figs
- Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts, or Macadamia nuts
- Chocolate chips, Butterscotch chips
- Food coloring – for frosting!
- Sprinkles for cookie decorating
Basic Equipment (just in case you're setting up your kitchen - here's a short list of what you might like to have!)
- Nonstick spray for pans
- Parchment paper, Waxed paper, Aluminum foil
- Baking pans
- (1-2+ cookie sheets, 1-2 pie pans, 1-2 loaf pans, and a few cake and cupcake pans are a good start – most chefs will always want more!)
- 1-2 Cooling racks (perfect parking spot for hot pans of cookies fresh from the oven - faster cooling so you're ready for the next round sooner!)
- 3-4+ Mixing Bowls
- 1-2 sets measuring spoons (1 Tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, ¼ teaspoon at least)
- Liquid measuring cups (look for easy-pour, fl. Oz. and mL measure)
- Dry measuring cups (easy to level off ingredients for accurate flour and sugar measuring)
- Electric Mixer (either stand-up or hand-held)
- A few spoons, whisks, and spatulas
That's just a short list of what you might like to have on hand for fall baking - if we left anything out, let us know in the comments! Every kitchen is different and every chef has their favorite ingredients.What are YOU going to bake this fall?