How to make your own mixes for less

Homemade Baking Mixes


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Everyone knows that commercial baking mixes are useful, but are they practical? The rising costs of advertising, packaging and labor have increased the prices of many of these baking mixes to almost double that of homemade products. So, why do people still buy them? Convenience, as well as time saved in the kitchen, are the reasons that people still buy them. To a busy family, these reasons often overshadow the cost of such mixes. You can have all the benefits of commercial baking mixes, at half the price, by simply making your own in bulk at home.

Homemade mixes give you savings, convenience, versatility and nutrition, which is an unbeatable combination. They can also be personalized to meet your dietary needs. Use less salt, replace sugar with a sugar substitute, use less fat or add whole grains depending on the needs of your particular family.

By preparing ahead in bulk, these mixes will save you time as well. With a mix, food can be prepared in one-third the time it would usually take to assemble and measure ingredients. Add the fact that your own mixes have no preservatives or unhealthy additives, making them healthier for your family. These baking mixes are also versatile, each recipe complete with several variations, enabling you to produce more than one product from each mix.

For a basic mix, which can be used to make biscuits, pancakes, muffins, corn bread, breadsticks, doughnuts and even cookies, assemble the recipe below. You may want to reduce the recipe by half for a smaller batch if your family is smaller. This basic mix can also be substituted whenever a recipe calls for commercial biscuit mixes.

Basic Mix

17 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups instant non-fat dry milk powder
4 1/2 cups shortening

In a very large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Makes 26 cups. Mix will keep for two to three months. As with any mix, always remember to label and date all containers carefully.

Variations:

For biscuits, mix together 3 cups of baking mix and 2/3 cup water or milk. Blend well, knead slightly, then roll out and cut into desired shape. Bake at 450 °for 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 biscuits. For drop biscuits, add 2 tablespoons extra liquid.

For pancakes, mix together 4 1/2 cups basic mix and 2 tablespoons sugar until blended. Add 2 beaten eggs and 2 3/4 cups milk, buttermilk or water. Mix thoroughly. Bake on a well-greased hot griddle. Makes 13 to 16 6-inch pancakes.

For muffins, blend 2 2/3 cups basic mix and 4 tablespoons sugar. Add 1 beaten egg and 1 cup milk or water. Stir just until blended together. Pour into greased muffin cups. Bake at 425 °degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins.

For corn bread, mix 3 cups basic mix, 9 tablespoons cornmeal, and 1 cup sugar. Blend well. Add 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk or water and 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine. Fill greased 9 x 13-inch pan with batter. Bake at 350 °for 30 to 40 minutes.

For breadsticks, mix 2 cups basic mix, 1/2 cup cornmeal or flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. Add a scant 1/2 cup milk or water. Blend to form a dough, then knead until smooth. Form into 12 small logs, about 1/2 inch thick. Bake at 400 °for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp and well browned.

For doughnuts, blend 3 cups basic mix, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Mix together 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup milk or water in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients. Stir until dough forms. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut with a floured cutter or drinking glass. Fry in hot oil, about 375 °, turning once to brown each side. Drain on paper towels. Dredge in powdered sugar while doughnuts are still warm.

For molasses cookies, mix 2 cups basic mix, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend. Stir in 1 egg yolk and 1/2 cup molasses. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Flatten with a sugar-dipped glass. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 375 °for 10 minutes, or until edges are brown. Cool. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cocoa Cake and Brownie Mix

9 cups all-purpose flour
6 teaspoon baking powder
6 teaspoon salt
12 1/2 cups sugar
12 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Mix will keep for 2 to 3 months. Be sure to label and date.

For cocoa cake, bring 1 cup water and 1/4 cup butter or margarine to a boil in a saucepan. In a large bowl, combine hot water and butter with 2 cups Cocoa Cake and Brownie mix, 1/4 cup dairy sour cream, 1 beaten egg, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Blend. Pour into a greased cake pan. Bake at 375 °for 20 minutes or until done. Makes one layer. Double recipe for a two layer cake.

For brownies, mix 2 1/4 cups Cocoa Cake and Brownie mix, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine. Blend well. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts if desired. Pour into a greased and floured 8-inch pan. Bake 350 °for 30 to 35 minutes.

For cocoa cookies, beat together 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon water. Add 2 1/4 cups Cocoa Cake and Brownie mix, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 375 °, or until edges are brown. Cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Basic Cake Mix

15 cups all-purpose flour
9 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup cornstarch
7 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups shortening

In a large bowl, blend all dry ingredients until well mixed. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Mixture will keep two to three months. Makes about 25 1/2 cups mix.

For yellow cake, combine 5 cups Cake mix, 1 1/4 cups milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat well. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each additional egg. Pour into two greased and floured 8- or 9-inch pans. Bake 350 ° for 35 to 40 minutes. To make white cake, simply use only the white of the eggs.

Don't overlook the other uses of baking mixes in your home, either. Mixes can be packaged and labeled attractively to be given as gifts. They can be taken along on the family camping trip to add convenience at the campsite, replacing costly prepackaged foods. Mixes are also easily prepared by children, making it simple for them to help in the kitchen. Mix away!


Janean Nusz is a freelance writer, instructor and copywriter. Visit her website, Author's Art, at www.authorsart.com for budget tips, freebies and other information.

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