10 Baking Essentials for a Masterchef Kitchen!

Ever wondered why the vanilla cupcake from the local artisan bakery tastes so much more intensely delicious than the ones you make at home? Or why your breads come out cakey, instead of light, chewy and crisp? Here’s the secret; it’s all about your pantry. Every masterchef knows that having a few extra-special ingredients in the house can easily mean the difference between a triumph in the kitchen, and a cake that falls completely flat.

Madagascan Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla is a precious spice second only in price to Saffron, and Madagascan Vanilla is the finest the world has to offer. Our new, single origin Madagascan Vanilla Bean Paste is rich, thick and intense, making a world of difference to whatever you’re baking. Whether you need the strong heady flavor of vanilla for a custard or ice cream (because who can resist the appearance of those black vanilla bean seeds), or to boost your scones or just make plain whipped cream completely luxurious, single origin Madagascan Vanilla Bean Paste is a must. You’ll go from Nanna to Nigella with just one teaspoon!

Unsalted Butter

All the best pastry chefs know that controlling the balance of your baking is key. That’s why recipes always call for unsalted butter. When you buy unsalted butter you have no control over the quantity or quality of salt that is being added to your bake, which makes it extremely easy to over or under-season. When using the pure flavour of unsalted butter, you decide how much salt to add.

Flaky Sea Salt

Now that you’ve eliminated the problem of uncontrolled salt in your butter, it’s time to take control over adding it back to your baking! As with all of the basics in the kitchen, quality matters. Flaky sea salt has a stronger, and purer flavour than standard iodized salt, meaning you don’t need to use as much, and what you do leaves a cleaner flavour.  Plus, it can also be a beautiful finish on top of a salted cookie or tart.

Strong Bread Flour

If you’ve ever attempted to make a yeasted bread dough, and had the results turn out more like a scone than anything else, the culprit was probably your flour. Often the yeast gets the blame for this mishap, either for insufficient rising, or being out of date. But the truth is that plain flour often just does not contain enough gluten to allow doughs to develop structure and trap those gas bubbles created by the yeast, in turn letting the bread rise. Strong bread flour is the answer.

Quality Cocoa Powder

There is no greater kitchen sin than replacing cocoa powder with drinking chocolate! But you probably knew that. What you might not know is how vast the difference in flavour, quality and outcome can be depending on the cocoa you use. Generally, with cocoa, what you see is what you get. Look for a product that is very dark in colour – the blacker the better – and which smells rich and intense. Your brownies will be next level.

Gel Food Colour

Rainbow cakes are here to stay! Every kid, and everyone who is a kid at heart, loves the look of beautifully coloured rainbow bake. And for intensity of colour, Queen Food Colour Gels just cannot be beat, especially for meringues and macarons. They offer a more concentrated, vibrant boost to batters and frostings, and in turn result in professional-quality products, right from your home kitchen.

Pure Maple Syrup

You might think that pure maple syrup is an unusual ingredient to be adding to a list of essentials, but it’s not. Pure maple syrup, like vanilla, is a great base note to add to so many different recipes and it has the added benefit of feeling new and unexpected. Try a splash in your next batch of cream cheese frosting, to take a carrot cake to the next level. Or toss berries with maple syrup and lime, before piling them onto a pavlova.

Caster Sugar

Also known as super-fine sugar in the USA, this is a product which no professional baker would ever be without. Whether you’re coating a batch of hot donuts, whipping up a classic meringue, or preparing a buttery Victoria sponge, the finer grains of caster sugar are essential to a perfect product. The smaller pieces of sugar dissolve more readily, meaning meringues don’t become over-whipped, cakes bake and rise evenly, and all your bakes are more refined.


Like maple syrup, buttermilk is not just for pancakes anymore! Bakers over the world should take a leaf out of the American baking book, and start utilising buttermilk more. The acidic nature of this dairy product reacts with other ingredients to produce beautifully tender pastries, cakes, scones, muffins – you name it.


Just as these are indispensable in the savoury kitchen, they are also essential in the baker’s kitchen. A little lemon zest adds a wonderful lemon flavour to any dessert, particularly tea cakes, muffins and scones. But more than that, lemon juice, whilst not adding a full-on lemon flavour, helps to balance sweetness and acidity in almost any fruit dessert. Try a squeeze of lemon in your next apple crumble and taste the difference.


Now that you have your list of Masterchef-worthy baking essentials, why not discover a few of our favourite chef-inspired recipes in our new FREE recipe e-book “Vanilla, Recipes for the world’s most beautiful flavour”. Download now!

Happy Baking! – The Queen Team