Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Baking

Are there any bulk baking ingredients that are better to buy in bulk than packaged, and why?

Personally, I like to buy most of my ingredients in bulk, for the reasons I pointed out in prior entries –like freshness, being able to buy the amount you want, etc. When it comes to baking supplies, it’s all about how much you are going to use in a given amount of time. If, for example, you’re not going to use a 5 lb bag of flour within 6 months, it’s better to buy a smaller quantity in bulk. Many people also check the unit price on both the packaged and the bulk and choose the one that costs less per lb to save some money. I shop for baking supplies that I barely use any of – like coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, etc. – because I don’t want to get left with ingredients I’m not going to use.

I really want to try gluten-free baking. Does gluten-free flour work the same as regular flour? Can I substitute them?

Not at all! Gluten-free baking is a whole other world – a wonderful world, but totally different than baking with wheat flour. You see, baking is really chemistry more than art, and you need to have the right ingredients to get the right finished product. My best suggestion to anyone starting out on the gluten-free baking path is to find recipes that are specifically gluten free and not to try and convert your tried-and-true wheat-based recipes, as you’ll be sorely disappointed. After trying some of these new recipes, you’ll start to pick up on the science and technique behind gluten-free baking, which will increase your confidence to try things on your own. Many gluten-free recipes call for a blend of a couple different kinds of flour. This is another way the bulk department can really come in handy because if you’re just testing your hand at this new kind of baking, you might not want to invest in a huge bag of one kind of gluten-free flour and then find out you don’t like the taste or texture. Whenever I try anything new, I like to be able to buy just what I need. Then, if I love it, I buy more. And if I don’t love it, I don’t end up with waste!

Recipe: Morning Glory Muffins