There's no use in denying it any longer folks. Fall is upon us. And with the changing of the season comes the desire to bake all manner of delicious tasty treats that will warm the soul and comfort the body. I am one of those people who goes a little crazy in the kitchen come fall time, and I am usually looking for people to take baked goods off my hands. This year I have decided to do some overly compulsive planning in order to properly prepare for the baking frenzy that shall no doubt ensue. Here's my plan of attack:
Take inventory of my spices
There are five spices that I must have on hand for fall baking----cinnamon, cloves (ground and whole), allspice, nutmeg (whole only!), and pumpkin pie spice. The latter is mostly for if I get lazy and want to avoid combining all of the previously mentioned spices. It's also important to check your spices for expiration dates, because most spices start to lose their flavor after a few months, actually, so if a spice jar has been around for a year or two, trash it and get a new one. Also, if you do plan to grind your own nutmeg, make sure to buy a good nutmeg grater. You'll never go back to the pre-ground stuff again.
Stock up on essentials
There is nothing I hate more than starting a recipe and realizing I am low on a key ingredient or other necessary baking element. So this year i'm planning a dedicated trip to the store just to buy the essentials: flour, sugar (white and dark brown), baking powder/baking soda, salt, at least eight sticks of butter (which can be frozen and used as needed), shortening, parchment paper, and toothpicks (for testing done-ness). I may also treat myself to some fun holiday sprinkles and seasonal cupcake wrappers, just because they make me happy.
Replace old bakeware
I don't know about you, but I have some pretty stanky cookie sheets and bread tins that are begging to be replaced. I use them year after year, and every year I promise myself that this is the year i'm getting fancy new ones. But seriously folks, this IS the year. I already have my eye on a few pretty basics from Crate & Barrel. That way I only have to make one stop!
I actually already have that loaf pan, but I love it so much i'm going to buy another and get rid of all of the inferior loaf pans that reside in my cupboard. Also, i'm pretty much all set on utensils, but if you wanted to splurge on, say, a spatula, might I recommend this one?
If I get around to it, I will probably also go through all my random pieces of tupperware and weed out the oldest stuff. I mostly use old chinese food containers to store cookies and brownies, etc, but I may invest in a few good quality tupperware items for storing muffins and breads. Also? If you are a big cookie baker during the fall and the holidays, I would definitely invest in a Silpat baking mat if you haven't already. It will change your life.
Do a thorough cleaning of my kitchen
This will include reorganizing my pantry cabinets, consolidating ingredients and spices into convenient jars and storage containers, giving my KitchenAid Mixer a scrubbing to get all the dried bits off, and, gasp! cleaning my oven. Luckily, Kristie gave some good advice about the self-cleaning option, and so I plan to get down and dirty and scrub it myself.
So what are your plans for the fall baking season? Do YOU have any good tips or helpful hints to share?