Most bakers bake with wheat, dairy milk, eggs, and butter. I bake with gluten-free grains, non-dairy milk, shortening and oils, and use a variety of ingredients instead of eggs. But whether you are baking “with” or “without,” there are a few ingredients that can enhance nearly any baking project.
1. Pure vanilla extract – There is nothing quite like it, and no other extract or oil comes close to performing like vanilla. A tiny bit (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) can take an ordinary muffin to extraordinary. A larger amount (one tablespoon or more) will lend a distinctly vanilla taste and aroma to your baked goods.
2. Cinnamon – This is one ingredient I probably don’t use often enough. When used sparingly (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) it will kick the flavor up a notch. Larger amounts of cinnamon should be reserved for Cinnamon Bread, or other goodies where cinnamon is the star. Cinnamon even works well with chocolate!
3. Applesauce – Applesauce provides great texture, is a mild sweetener, and can also be used to reduce the amount of fat used in your baking. If you add more than a tablespoon of applesauce you should adjust the wet ingredients in your recipe to compensate. Choose unsweetened, or make your own.
4. Fresh lemon (or lime) juice – A tiny bit of lemon juice (1/2 tablespoon or less) can help an egg-free baking project rise. A tablespoon of lemon juice mixed with non-dairy milk will result in a non-dairy “buttermilk,” and of course – the more lemon you use the more of the citrus flavor will shine. Reduce liquids to compensate, and always use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
Those of you who know me are probably wondering why I didn’t add chocolate (or chocolate chips) to this list. It’s no secret that if I’m choosing for myself, I choose chocolate, and I can find a reason to add chocolate chips to almost anything. But even a tiny amount will change the profile of the baked goods dramatically. So, if you’re like me, and chocolate floats your boat, then go ahead and add those chocolate chips!
What are your favorite ingredients to add to a recipe?