Ingredients – what do I need?

What are those ingredients?

When we think about baking the first thought is probably flour and sugar. So what do you need when avoiding those two? Here’s a list of a few basic ingredients that I tend to use in my recipes. Of course you don’t need all of them for every recipe.

Bananas

This is quite simple – right? You’ll find them in the fruit section of almost any store and the only difficult part could be the size – because they do vary in size. Just go with a bit of logic and if the banana is tiny – then maybe use two instead of one and if it’s huge – half of it might be enough… I use bananas in the recipes for sweetness and texture (moistness).

Eggs

Again, quite simple, and the only difficult part would probably be the size – again. In Germany they mark the egg boxes with XS up to XL for the size and most recipes there use the medium size (M). But then – just use a bit of logic and simply add an extra egg if yours are very small (or use one less if they are big)

two eggs - different sizes

Just for fun I picked the largest and the smallest eggs out of a box of 10 eggs I had at home. Weighing them it becomes clear how different they are in size. The smaller one weighs 55 g (1.9 ounce) and the large one 71 g (2.5 ounce). In my average recipe I use 4 eggs. That would make a difference of 4×16 g = 64 g when using only small ones or only large ones. Meaning basically one whole egg… Something to think of! And just to clarify – when I bake, my average egg weighs around 60-65 g. That is what I calculate with in the recipes on Lieselathome.com

Fat – butter / ghee / coconut oil

I tend to use butter or coconut oil in most of my recipes and most times there is hardly any difference in the result. Only in cake or cupcake toppings would I recommend butter or ghee before coconut oil. Otherwise, you would want to use coconut oil if you are lactose intolerant for sure, but also maybe since it’s a very healthy option for butter. Your choice! You’ll find coconut oil next to other oils, like olive oil, but not in every shop. Where I live, only the organic shop has it – and they have ghee as well (next to jam and nut butter). Another option would be to order it online

Vinegar

Use in small amounts when baking muffins and cakes because it helps the baking powder to react and makes the result fluffier. I tend to use apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar (for chocolate cake / muffin) or raspberry vinegar.

Honey

This is of course used as sweetener. Honey has health benefits that normal sugar does not have, but it is still a form of sugar so we use it sparingly! If you are conscious of your sugar intake you can just leave it out.  Personally I like the fluid honey since it’s easiest to measure.

Shredded coconut

There is a big difference in quality of the shredded coconut you can buy.  From the organic, fat, moist one to the cheap dry one. And I’d say – any kind is ok. I like to buy the high quality fat and moist one because I first “milk it” for coconut milk. Then I dry it and use the left over, dried (finer), shredded coconut for baking. If you are not going to make your own coconut milk – then the cheaper “dry” version might actually be the better option for baking… You’ll find shredded coconut in the baking section of the shop or next to nuts, dried fruit and snacks. Prices vary a lot so do compare!

four heaps of shredded coconut and coconut flour

This is a simple overview. Down to the right is the “high quality” shredded coconut. It’s a bit to coarse to use for baking like that – or the result will get very chewy. So what I do is I “milk” it and get the bi-product you can see to the left. Much finer and dryer – perfect for baking! Part of that I color with beetroot juice and get the upper left, pink, version. Use as healthy sprinkles on cakes or cupcakes (or ice cream)! And the beige heap up to the right is coconut flour. Read below for more on that.

Coconut flour

This is not shredded coconut. Big difference! Coconut flour is a fine powder that I use in small amounts because if you use too much the result will be dry and tasteless. However it does balance the texture and keep the cake from being overly moist and chewy which it easily gets when you bake with nuts and coconut instead of traditional flour. You might find coconut flour in your organic shop – next to other types of special flours, or otherwise order online. Also here price vary a lot so do compare. I recommend the brand Govinda – a German brand that has high quality for a relatively small price.

Nut flours

Nut flours is basically ground (and some times blanched) nuts. Most common is the almond flour and this you can buy ground and packed all year round. For some reasons ground hazelnuts often show up only around Christmas over here but even when you can’t find it – you can easily make your own by simply grinding nuts in a small mixer or grinder. You’ll probably find ground or whole nuts in the baking section of your shop – or next to dried fruit and similar snacks. Also check online for better prices. Myself – I regularly leave Luxembourg and drive over the border to Germany to buy nuts and seeds in bulk. The German chain “DM” has a great organic selection at reasonable prices.

Seeds

Seeds are a great substitute for standard (grain) flours. I use ground sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and linseeds (also called flax seeds) a lot and linseeds have a great affect on texture. It sucks up fluid and binds together similar to how normal flour works. Linseeds are also one of these very healthy things we should eat regularly so why not include them in our treats J. The seeds can be found next to dried fruit, nuts and healthy snacks in the shop, and are mostly not that expensive. But still – I buy them in Germany to save a few bucks.

Dried fruit

Many of my recipes call for dried dates, apricots or raisins. These are added for sweetness but also for the texture – to make the result sticky or chewy. In cakes or muffins you can substitute the dried fruit with a bit extra honey, but in some cookies or non-baking treats you’ll need the texture as well as the sweetness. Always grind them first and do it together either with coconut, nuts or seeds to get the best result.

how to get ground dried dates

Cacao powder

Or cocoa powder. Basically the ground cocoa bean. We all know what this is and the only important thing is that it is not sweetened. (Tip – cocoa next to coffee and tea is probably the sweetened version for making hot chocolate, but cocoa (or cacao) in the baking section is most likely the one we’re talking about here) Still – also here, there are huge quality differences in cacao, and my only recommendation is that you try out a few brands and settle for one you like best. My favorite is “Nestle dessert” because of the intense and rich taste. In Luxembourg, you’ll find it in Auchan, in the baking section.

Two brands of cacao and the differences

Although I love every other product I have tried from the brand Alnatura, I find their cacao to be bland and almost tasteless. Makes a big difference when baking!

Vanilla

Ahhh, this is a favorite ingredient of mine. Mostly because it is one that makes big difference with tiny quantities. The most logical option would be to buy vanilla beans and scrape out the inside of them. That is pure vanilla and, depending on where you bought the beans, very good quality. Still – I seldom do this when I bake because it’s a bit of a hassle. Half of it sticks to my fingers and it is difficult to measure how much you use. Instead I either buy ground vanilla (at our local organic shop). It’s a black powder sold in a small glass for a steep price. But in all fairness – you don’t use a lot. OR – and this is my favorite – I use my homemade whiskey vanilla. Short story – Buy a bunch of vanilla beans – cut them into pieces and also cut them lengthwise to open them up. Then soak them in a jar with lid, in alcohol (I used whiskey) for at least 6-7 weeks. Leave them in the alcohol and just fill up the jar as you are using it. Long story – Google it and you’ll find several good explanations on how to do this. So, find what suits you best and stick with that. Measure wise the inside of one vanilla bean equals about half a teaspoon of vanilla powder or something like one tablespoon of “vanilla whiskey”.

Berries

You’ll find berries in a lot of my recipes – either as the main ingredients or as a last touch, for color and/or taste. In my freezer you will always find strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I buy organic simply because they taste best. Most times you will also find cherries and cranberries. They won’t be organic – because our local organic shop doesn’t have it. I’m fine with that. So you won’t get a lecture from me about why you should buy organic. I’m sure you are smart enough to decide those things for yourself! I chose frozen berries because that makes them always available.

Now – that is pretty much it! Write a shopping list and get started on that baking!

Good luck!

Liesel

And – any questions on this? – just drop me an e-mail! Lisa@lieselathome.com