I have gotten some comments lately about how to be a better baker. I truly think anyone can bake. I really do. It may not come easily or naturally to some, but if you take your time, you can bake.
See: Easy to make M&M Cookies
I feel the key is to not feel defeated before you start. I also think choosing simple recipes to start with is a good idea. Starting with a Double Raspberry Butter Cake with Chocolate Cream Frosting and a Hint of Lemon may not end well. When you have a lopsided, crumby cake with chunks of butter in your frosting, you aren't going to feel warm and fuzzy about baking. Start small and work your way up to the Double Raspberry Butter Cake.
See: Cookies N Cream Brownie Cake
I put together a list of the top 10 baking ingredients every pantry needs. You never know what you are going to make when, so it is important to have these items ready to go. I try to have these items on hand at all times, because who knows when I will need to make a quick dessert (ahem, my husband's Bible study group is coming over tonight). :-)
::Eggs-You should always have eggs in the fridge. I know that isn't the pantry, but close enough. Egg is a binder and is in most recipes.
::White Sugar-Unless you use a sugar substitute in your house, you need to have white sugar in your pantry. Sugar makes life sweeter, right?
::Brown Sugar-I prefer to use brown sugar over white (I like the taste better) but there is a difference so be sure to only use it when the recipe calls for it.
::Cinnamon-This is a must. Must, must. Cinnamon makes anything taste better. When you don't know what to add, add cinnamon. There is no such thing as too much cinnamon and I rarely measure it. (Well, there was the applesauce incident my children would tell you about, but never mind that.) ;-) Cinnamon is also great for a smell repellent.
::Cream of Tarter-This little bottle will last you forever. However, when you need it, you need it. I have a cookie recipe that calls for it. It is a must have.
::Shortening-I am not a big shortening fan. However, some recipes call for it and it is a essential for them. For the homemade birthday cakes I make, the frosting calls for shortening. (The Wilton recipe is so good!)
::Baking Soda-Baking soda is great for baking but has so many other uses as well. From cleaning to medicinal purposes, it is a great product to have around.
::Baking Powder-Try not to get the baking powder and baking soda confused in recipes. Trust me, it makes a difference. A very, nasty tasting difference. :-)
::Salt-Even if you don't like too much salt in your diet, it is essential for baking. It helps flavor the recipe and bring out the flavor of the ingredients you are using.
::Vanilla-Besides cinnamon, this is my other favorite. I think I add it to almost everything I make. My mother in law buys me a large bottle and it lasts me all year. It is a must, must have. Adds such great flavor!
I hope this list is a help to you as you shop for your baking pantry. What about you? Do you have baking pantry staples?