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Baking on a Budget

Monday, 22 August 2016
Getting your bake on doesn't have to break the bank!  If you're inspired by The Great British Bake off, baking from scratch, without using packet premixes, is cheap and easy.  Despite what The Great British Bake Off implies, baking is fairly straight forward.  With a few basic techniques you can create tasty treats at home in no time.  Baking like any new skill, the more you practise, the better you will be at it.

Beginners baking tips

Measure accurately.  Baking is essentially chemistry and you'll get a better result if you ensure all of the ingredients are measured accurately.  Too much or too little of an ingredient can really affect the end result.

Have ingredients at room temperature.  Butter and eggs should be at room temperature as they will emulsify better during the mixing process.  Take butter and eggs out of the fridge at around half an hour to an hour before you bake with them.

Always preheat the oven.  If the oven isn’t hot then you could well end up with flat, greasy baking that is over/undercooked.

Don’t leave your mixture waiting around.  Make sure you are ready to put your bakes into the oven as soon as the batter is mixed.  This is because the raising agents start working once mixed with liquids so your bakes may end up flat if you dither about before baking them.  For example, if you want to make a double batch of muffins, but only own one muffin tin, it is much better to mix up the second batch whilst the first batch is cooking.

Video clips can be very helpful if you want to see a recipe step by step.  Being able to replay, pause, and go through a recipe at your own pace makes learning to bake a lot easier.  Most of the major baking websites have technique videos and basic recipes shown step by step.

Our Budget Baking Top Tips

Buy basics ingredients.  No need for expensive flour, it's all the same just dressed up in different packaging.  For around 50p you can buy a bag of budget range plain or self raising flour, no need to spend over £1 on a posh version of the same thing.  You can also use 2 tsp of baking powder per 150g of plain flour should you run out of self raising flour or want to save money by only purchasing one type of flour.

Likewise with sugar, normal sugar will suffice most of the time.  Buy caster sugar if you want but for most cakes and muffins, granulated sugar is fine and much less expensive.  Adding a tablespoon of golden syrup along with normal or caster sugar is a good substitute for light soft brown sugar, and much cheaper too.

Check the reduced or clearance aisles for ingredients and equipment.  Quite often you can purchase fruit, vegetables, and eggs at very reduced prices.  Baking tins and other equipment can also be heavily discounted due to end of line specials or if they are certain colours or novelty items at particular times of the year.

Don't buy baking beans, use budget rice instead.  You can reuse the rice too.  A 500g bag of basics value range rice costs around 50p and can be used and reused as instead of baking beans, just keep in a labelled container once cooled.

Don't buy buttermilk.  Substitute natural yoghurt instead or add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to milk and wait 5 minutes for it to curdle.

Choose your recipe carefully.  If you're a novice baker and searching out recipes online, read reviews of the recipe should there be any available.  If the recipe has proved tricky or not been successful for a number of reviewers you're better off choosing another recipe to try rather than wasting ingredients.

Start with the basics.  It's best to start with simple recipes that can be adapted as you master new techniques.  Don't start with complex bakes which could easily go wrong and knock your confidence, as well as waste ingredients.

Basic Equipment

A set of measuring cups, spoons, and/or scales. Electronic kitchen scales can be purchased from supermarkets for around £5.  Measuring cups can cost as little as £2.  The £1 Shop or similar retailers also stock baking equipment.  A measuring jug, mixing bowl, wooden spoon and spatula can all be purchased from £1 shops or supermarket basic ranges.

You do not need a large selection of bakeware.  A muffin tin, round cake tin (20cm), a loaf tin and cookie sheet/baking tray should allow you to bake a wide variety of recipes.  

Here are a few recipes to get you started

What are your top budget baking tips?


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