(Disclaimer: Life happens. I got behind on this challenge. So you're going to see hopefully 4 blog posts today while I attempt to catch up. :) )
My standard pantry stock has changed slightly since I've started making my own bread ... and I mean making my own bread by hand, not with a bread machine, though there are essential ingredients needed for bread machine bread as well. :)
Of course you need flour - LOTS of flour! :) All-purpose (white) flour is a standard go to for most breads, doughs and other baked creations. With all-purpose flour you can make quite a variety of breads, quick breads, etc. However, if you want to make things a little healthier and more flavourful, I also recommend having whole wheat flour and rye flour in your pantry. I will often substitute one for the other in various recipes. For example, the first time I made my own pita bread, the recipe called for whole wheat flour which I did have on hand at the time and used it. The pitas were soft, moist and ever so delicious - SO much better than grocery store pitas!! However, the next time I made pita bread, I was out of whole wheat flour but I had rye flour. I used this instead and the pitas were just as delicious as with the whole wheat flour!
Yeast is another standard ingredient but there are a number of types of yeast. Instant yeast (or bread machine yeast) is what you need if you'll be making dough or bread in your bread machine ... or if you just don't have a lot of time in your day for the whole bread making process. You can make your bread dough in the bread machine and still bake it in the oven (for a nicer bread - better shape, nicer crust) - just use the dough setting instead of the bread setting. Then there's Active Dry Yeast. This is the more traditional yeast and takes time to prep or activate it. Yeast is very important in bread making (unless you're making a quick bread). Yeast causes the dough to rise, it helps the dough develop (making it stronger ... don't ask me the science behind that), and it gives it a wonderful flavour and aroma. This flavour and aroma will be stronger using active dry yeast than using instant yeast. Did you know that yeast is a living organism? It's a single-celled fungus! I believe this is the reason that some people have negative reactions to it (like my husband). :)
Sugar (white sugar is the standard) is another key ingredient. Sugar reacts with the yeast, helping it to do it's job, by aiding the fermentation process. Even pizza dough requires a bit of sugar! :) In addition to white sugar, you can also add brown sugar and honey for sweetness.
Many doughs will also require butter or oil as part of the wet ingredients. If given a choice between butter or margarine, use butter! And for oil, I prefer olive oil. These ingredients give a much more enjoyable flavour to your dough or bread!
Of course, no pantry is complete without salt. I don't think I've yet found a dough/bread recipe that doesn't call for salt. My preferred salt is sea salt. It seems to be a more mild flavour than table salt or kosher salt (of course, if you are eating kosher, use kosher salt!) ... kosher salt is my next favourite and regular table salt comes right at the bottom of that list. :)
There you have it - the 5 standard ingredients necessary for making bread or dough! With these ingredients, you should be able to whip up a nice loaf of bread, a pizza dough or some soft dinner rolls to enjoy with your family! :)
What about you? What are some of your key ingredients for baking bread? Of the standards I listed, I'd say that my favourites are the various flours. :)