Some time ago, I shared lists for the basic ingredients for cakes, cookies, and bread. That was really some time ago. About a year ago, actually. I’ve done much more baking since then, wandering into the realms of custard, biscuits, and muffins.
As this posts, the world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and, for whatever reason, people are stress baking. Eggs and flour are difficult to find. I haven’t asked my husband to pick up butter yet as I, a baker at heart, always keep plenty on hand, so I don’t know if they’re as hot a commodity as other things. Like toilet paper. Oh, the toilet paper jokes…
So, if you find yourself staring at eggs and flour and are a little lost as to what to make, let me assure you that there are plenty of things you can stress bake. Like, custards, biscuits, and muffins.
Basic Ingredients for Custard
The ratio for custard is 2:1 dairy to eggs. It’s super simple, but requires a surprising number of ingredients considering the simple ratio, especially if you’re going for a dessert custard, or intend on turning it into ice cream.
- Dairy. This is usually milk or cream or a combination of both. If you’re going to make creme patisserie, which is based on the same ratio with the addition of a thickener, only use the milk. Also, don’t use sweetened condensed milk. I high recommend to stick to milk and cream.
- Eggs. Eggs are eggs. I haven’t come across any substitutions for eggs in custard. Use the whole egg or just use the yolks, but, either way, the yolks appear to be the key for a rich, smooth custard. For a regular custard, I use the whole egg because I’m too lazy (read: have kids breathing down my neck) to separate them. For creme patisserie, though, only use the yolks.
- Sugar. If you’re going for a dessert custard, as I almost always am, or plan on turning it into ice cream, do use sugar. The amount is based on your tastes. If you like sweet, use a little more sugar. If you don’t want it as sweet, just use a little less. But be sure to taste so you add the right amount for your tastes.
- Extract. Usually vanilla, but, if you want something different, feel free to use something else. It adds flavor and I usually add it at the end.
See what I mean about a surprising number of ingredients. The actual number is twice as much as what the ratio calls for. Okay, it’s not a ton, not like making a cake, but the ratio is a little deceptive. Just don’t use sweetened condensed milk as your dairy!
Basic Ingredients for Biscuits
The ratio for biscuits is 3:2:1 flour to liquid to butter (fat). That really is a strong foundation. But do be careful because the pie crust ratio uses the same numbers, except it switches the liquid and the butter. So, remember biscuits have less butter and pie has more.
- Flour. I’ve only used the all purpose flour, but I’m sure any flour will do as long as you stick to the ratio. I mean, that is the point of using a ratio, being able to switch out ingredients at will.
- Liquid. This is nonspecific, but sometimes I feel like it should read buttermilk because people always talk about buttermilk biscuits. If you’re going for buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk is your liquid. Otherwise I’ve used plain milk, evaporated milk, and water. I haven’t tasted much of a difference.
- Butter, though it really should read fat. I’ve read that different types of fat will yield something a little different, but I only keep butter on hand so I can only speak to butter. You really need to keep the butter as cold as possible and remember that it’s the butter that gives you those beautiful layers. Just quickly smash pieces of butter in. I usually have lots and lots of chunks because I have impatient kids and almost always get those lovely layers…if the same impatient kids cool their jets a bit and let me roll, fold, and cut properly.
- Baking powder. The baking powder will help the biscuits rise. A teaspoon per cup of flour should be just fine. It’s the rule I use, anyways.
- Salt. Salt is important to biscuits, especially if you’re going for that rich, buttery, salty biscuit. You don’t need a lot, though. I use about a teaspoon and it’s fine. Sometimes a bit more if my husband says he wants them salty. Just don’t be too heavy handed with the salt.
- Sugar. This is optional. If you’re going for a sweeter biscuit, use some sugar as well. I also like to sprinkle some on top. Just do not roll the biscuits in sugar and not expect it to burn. Trust me. I know.
I love how simple it is to make biscuits, which is a lot easier than I had thought when I first started making them. The ingredients are fairly basic; it’s just keeping this ratio and the pie ratio separate in my mind!
Basic Ingredients for Muffins/Quick Breads
The ratio covers the basics, but one thing you must not forget is the baking powder. It also opens the doors to creativity because it is so basic. There are numerous things you can add to muffins! Just remember the 2:2:1:1 flour to liquid to fat to eggs ratio.
- Flour. I usually use all purpose, but I believe any flour would work well. After all, ratios are based on weights, so as long as it all matches up correctly, it should be easy to swap out flours, especially if you’re wanting something a little more healthy.
- Liquid. Liquids aren’t just actual liquids like milk and water, but also purees. Things like pumpkin puree and mashed bananas would actually be your liquid. But if you don’t have quite enough to fulfill the ratio, no problem! Just add a bit of another liquid.
- Fat. I’ve only used butter, but, since it just says you need a fat, any kind of fat should do. One thing you need to do, though, is melt it. It gets mixed in with the wet ingredients. I mixed softened butter into the dry ingredients once and didn’t get beautiful muffins, so definitely melt it and add it to the wet ingredients.
- Eggs. Eh, I don’t believe they’re strictly necessary as such. What I mean is, I prefer to use applesauce in place of the eggs. It makes the moister while using eggs seems to dry out my muffins, but I think it just comes down to preference. If you do choose to use applesauce, do not substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce for each egg. Just swap out the egg in the ratio for the applesauce so it weighs about the same as the fat.
- Baking powder or baking soda. The rule of thumb is about a teaspoon per cup of flour. You can use either, but using baking soda requires the presence of an acid, like buttermilk or brown sugar.
- Sugar. This is optional, but I always add 2-4 tablespoons per each egg or 50 grams of applesauce. I just prefer my muffins on the sweet side.
- Salt. I consider this optional, too, as I almost never add salt to my muffins, but it does help to balance the sweet. Just a bit goes a long way.
Muffins are so much fun to make and add things into. It’s so easy to get creative with them and it almost always tastes delicious, even when mixed wrong.
Check out: A Quick Guide to Ratio Baking Muffins
So there you have it. A basic list of ingredients for custard, biscuits, and muffins/quick breads. The best thing is, even if you have just a small amount of one thing, it’s relatively easy to tweak the amounts to fit the ratios since ratios are based on weight.