I love to bake. I especially love to bake desserts.
Cookies, brownies, cakes, pies… I’m not picky. I’ll happily bake them and promptly eat them any day of the week. I’m sure y’all understand.
But if there’s anything I despise about baking – I mean, the absolute WORST part of all – is running out of something when I’m in the middle of a recipe.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a grown woman have a nuclear meltdown over something as trivial as baking soda, come join in me in the kitchen. (And bring an apron!)
I’m inviting you to join me because if I’m having a meltdown, it means I need someone to talk be back to sanity.
And the apron is so you can help me figure out how to keep on baking despite running out of baking soda… or not having cake flour or not being able to find the cream of tartar (even though know I KNOW there’s at least three containers in there somewhere…).
Since running out of ingredients totally and utterly stinks – especially in the midst of baking – I’m here to offer hope.
And some solutions.
14 Easy Baking Hacks for the Home Baker
Tip: You might want to print this page and tape it to the inside of your spice cabinet or pantry or any other place that would be handy to know how to make pastry flour or substitute baking soda for baking powder!
(1) Cake Flour
Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Scoop 2 tablespoons of flour OUT and replace with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift flour and cornstarch together 5 times. Makes 1 cup.
Note: Arrowroot works as a substitution, but your item will bake more quickly and the resulting texture will be different. For best results, use cornstarch. Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.
(2) Pastry Flour
Combine 1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour with 2/3 cups of cake flour. Makes 2 cups.
Adapted from Joy of Baking.
(3) Self-Rising Flour
Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Adapted from Joy of Baking.
Note: Because self-rising flour contains both baking powder AND salt, use only in recipes that specifically call for self-rising flour.
(4) Bread Flour
Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten.
(5) All-Purpose Flour
Essentially, all-purpose flour is whole grain flour sifted to remove the outer portions of the grain. If you run out but still have whole grain flour, make your own all-purpose flour.
(6) Oat Flour
This is an easy way to stretch flour if you’re starting to run out. It’s easy (and frugal) to make your own oat flour. Depending on the recipe, you can substitute up to 1/4 of the flour without anyone noticing the difference!
As a rule of thumb, goods that bake up (like cake) should use less. Goods that don’t (brownies, cookies, etc.) can use more.
(7) Powdered Sugar
Measure 1 cup of granulated sugar in a blender or food processor. Process until very, very fine and powdery smooth. Use immediately.
Note: This method works for almost every type of granulated sugar out there, including coconut sugar and turbinado sugar.
(8) Brown Sugar
Combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons of molasses.
Tip: I stopped buying brown sugar altogether thanks to this little hack. It’s easy to halve, and in recipes that use less than 1/2 cup of brown sugar, I just use granulated sugar instead!
(9) Baking Soda
Replace 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of double-acting baking powder.
Note: Be sure to use aluminum-free baking powder to avoid the bitter taste of baking powder.
(10) Baking Powder
Combine 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Makes approximately 1 teaspoon.
(11) Cream of Tartar
Replace 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or distilled vinegar.
Find hope in these 10 different ways to make buttermilk. I’m sure you’ve got everything you need to pull at least one of them off!
(13) Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
For one ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate, mix 3 tablespoons of natural cocoa (not Dutch processed) with melted unsalted butter.
(14) Sweetened Condensed Milk
If you run out, you can make homemade sweetened condensed milk with just two ingredients AND use just about any sweetener you want. Plus you can make dairy-free sweetened condensed milk too.
Heads up, this one takes a little bit to make!
More Baking Tips & Tricks
- Make a double batch of everything, then freeze it with this step-by-step freezing tutorial.
- Make a flour shaker so when you “lightly flour the surface with flour,” you’re not accidentally adding copious amounts of flour to the recipe.
- Have whole grains but no flour? Make flour without a grain mill with this 2-step tutorial.
- Easily convert bread machine recipes to by-hand recipes with a simple conversion method.
Do you have any awesome baking tips hidden up your sleeve? Share them in the comments!
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If you need heavy cream use 1/2 cup whole milk to 1/2 cup melted butter and for half and half use 1:2 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup melted butter
SJ - Team Crumbs
Thanks for the tip Joyce! 🙂
The best hack I was ever given When making a cake take a couple of tbs of sugar out & add a tbs of golden syrup you will never get a dry cake
Kyare - Team Crumbs
Thank you for this tip Jayne.
I just bought cream of tartar at Winco this afternoon (they have it in bulk), and one of these days, I’m going to make some baking powder! I’m wondering, how much of the ingredients would I use to fill an average size baking powder container? Like the kind you find in the store? Would I use equal parts of each? Or would it be 2/3 of one and 1/3 of the other?
1 part baking soda to 2 parts cream of tartar! Flip those amounts and you get to clean your oven! ; ) The baking soda creates the volcano effect. I did this when we were visiting another family and couldn’t remember the amounts, guessed wrong, and we had an over flowing pan of baked oatmeal! (and I insisted on cleaning her oven since it was my fault…)
I have a sensitivity to molasses so I use barley malt syrup to make my brown sugar. I also cook with erythritol as a partial substitute for sugar to cut down on sugar consumption. It takes a bit of fiddling to get it right because erythritol has a cool mouth feel that spoils some baked goods’ taste. I found that 1 cup of erythritol + 1 teaspoon stevia powder + a pinch of salt brings it all together and tastes nearly identical to sugar. It’s a bit expensive to cook this way but well worth it health-wise. I substitute 1/2 the sugar in a recipe for this combination.
I also use brown rice syrup as a substitute for corn syrup. It isn’t quite as sweet but works just as well as corn syrup.
Could you make this article pinnable?
If you hover over the top image Cathy, you can click the “pin it” button to pin!
When making brown sugar as stated above, make a bunch at once, it will save you the time of mixing it together next time you need it. I generally make 3 or 4 cups at a time, and it stays perfectly moist in an air tight container, that way when you need just a small amount it’s all ready to go.
Yes! I did this last time (on accident, I admit) and it was SO nice to have it handy and ready to go. Thanks for chiming in Jodie!
I don’t mix it. I add the molasses to the wet ingredients or butter then the sugar when recipe calls for it. So much easier!
SJ - Team Crumbs
Thanks for the tip, Mimi. We’ll have to try that!
Just put the cornstarch on the bottom of your measuring cup first, then scoop the flour onto the top.
AHA! So smart – than you Karena!
Tiffany- Thank you for this post. Just the other day I saw pastry flour in a recipe & I had no clue if there was a substitute for it that I could make. This list is a keeper.
Hahaha, a nuclear melt down in the kitchen! I’ve had several of those when I could swear I just had….that in the pantry. I didn’t know the hack about the unsweetened chocolate so thanks!
One of my favorite kitchen hacks is using ground flax as an egg substitute. Mix 1 Tbl ground flax with 3 Tbl water and let sit for 5 minutes. This will give you the equivalent of 1 egg!
I sure could of use this list on saturday. I needed cream tartar. I end up taking usincrg baking powder and remove baking soda and cream tartart from the recipe.
Delurking to write that the flour shaker is one of the best ideas I’ve heard of! Never knew I needed this until now. Can’t wait to make one in time for holiday baking! Thank you!