A baker’s pantry should contain flour, sugar, oil, eggs and some organization. It is a good idea to invest in some type of closet or cupboard organizer and a set of containers with tight sealing lids. Once your organization is in place you begin your stocking and pantry layout.
Although all-purpose flour is usually sufficient for cake baking, cake flour provides the best results overall. With its lower gluten content and very fine texture, cake flower produces a lighter, more fluffy and tender cake. Keep your flour in clearly marked airtight containers. Also be sure to keep track of expiration dates so that your ingredients are always at their freshest.
Your sugars inventory should contain granulated, brown and confectioners or powdered sugar. When it comes to the fats, real butter is preferred over margarine or spreads and vegetable oil over other types of cooking oils. You will also need a good supply or shortening for greasing pans and for frostings. Avoid butter flavored shortening and stick with unflavored. Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents called for in almost any cake baking recipe. Cornstarch is a thickening agent often required in glaze and some filling recipes.
Stock fresh eggs and milk including evaporated and sweetened. For decorating you will most likely need food coloring, gels and pastes. Flavorings like vanilla and almond extract are essential. If at all possible, stick with pure extract for all your flavorings. Decorative embellishments might include chocolates, candies, figurines and anything else that adds a signature style to your overall cake presentation. Spices and seasonings should also be included in your pantry. They can be used to add a little kick to your cakes flavor. Nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger and espresso powder are some examples to consider keeping on hand.
With your pantry in order it is time to prep your kitchen area. First of all, give yourself some space. Set aside and assign areas for certain functions. For a decorating area you might choose to use the spot in the kitchen with most countertop space and easiest access to your tools. It is best if your counter tops are smooth and level. If you happen to have a tiled counter top then you may want to consider buying a large cutting board. A tidy and clutter free kitchen can help with efficiency and productivity. You should start every baking adventure with an empty sink and dish rack. Check and review that you have all the ingredients before starting into another recipe. It is also a good idea to make sure that all your tools are functioning from your hand or stand mixer to the accuracy of your ovens temperature.