What are baked goods? Simply put, everything in this section of the Promptuary refers to baked goods (except for maybe some variants of cheesecake that aren’t baked). The most common baked product is bread with cakes taking a close second place. The cycle of baked goods is a very amusing story. People rejoiced when baked goods were industrialized and moved from small artisan bakeries to large industrial processes which made bread accessible to everyone at very low prices. Today, with attention shifting to better quality baked goods, smaller artisan producers are slowly gaining popularity as a healthier (and tastier) option to industrial baked goods.
Baked Goods Trivia
- A lot of people say that baking is more of a science than an art. Measurements of ingredients must be precise to achieve the desired texture and form, especially with bread.
- On the other hand, many baked goods require an artistic touch for them to be pleasing to the eye and make them attractive to buyers.
- Leavened bread was first baked around 600 BC but there have been ovens that have been dated to be older than 6,500 years.
- Each baked item has its own unique history and backstory, so be sure to check out all of the other entries in our Real Food Promptuary for more information.
- Cookies, one of the more popular baked goods, come from the Dutch word ‘koekje’ which basically means ‘little cakes.’
- Baked goods aren’t limited to bread and cakes, they also include food like custards and pudding.
Baked Goods Buying Guide
As a rule of thumb, we don’t recommend buying baked goods that have been sitting on shelves for longer than a few hours, or at the very most, a day. Why? Because baked goods are best when fresh. In commercial applications, baked goods like white bread, frozen pies, and other shelf-stable items are notorious for having loads of added chemicals and preservatives, some even more than processed meats.
Here’s a quick buying guide for baked goods that should be fairly easy to remember:
As much as possible, buy local, buy freshly baked. Bakers and bakeries bake every day (a bit of a tongue twister there) so support your local bakers and bakeries.
Baked Goods Production & Farming in Texas
Due to the Texas Cottage Food Law, you will never run out of choices when it comes to fresh baked goods. You can find these small artisan food producers in many farmers’ markets selling their wares. Some of them even have graduated into having full-on storefronts to expand their product lines or to catch up with the demand. These smaller producers rely on their creativity and most of all, the taste of their product to ensure that they stay in business, and in most cases gain a loyal following.
If you think that store shelf baked goods are good, then wait till you try fresh baked goods made by those who are masters at their craft, you’ll be blown away. The next time you pass by a farmers’ market or a small bakery, check them out and try some fresh baked goods, you won’t regret it.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals:
While food additives in baked goods are allowed by the FDA in certain limits, that doesn’t mean that they’re 100% safe. These additives and preservatives are approved based on the best science available that they are relatively safe for human consumption. Some of the approved additives are still being tested for suspected issues while some have a set limit where they can be safely consumed (i.e., not totally safe above certain levels).
Many commercial baked goods contain BHA, BHT, and calcium propionate to make them appear fresh longer. This means that three-day-old bread will still look freshly baked on store shelves.
Additives, on the other hand, include things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, food colorings, natural and artificial flavors, emulsifiers, and other thickeners to improve the overall taste and feel of the product. Now we have gotten some comments about how bread and other baked goods NEED these additives, and we strongly disagree with that. Baked goods don’t need these additives to taste good and to have a great mouth feel, all they need to be is to be freshly baked and you’ll have better-tasting products than anything that you can find sitting on a shelf for three days.
If you need more information on what preservatives, additives, and chemicals are added to commercial baked goods, then you can check out the FDA website. They have a listing of over 3000 additives that are commonly added to food to make them shelf-stable and you can read about all of the information available on them there. If you want to be truly safe, just avoid those products which rely on additives to make them attractive and just support your local bakers.
Commercial baked goods like bread, cookies, and other pastries are packed in single-use plastics to lock in moisture and to keep air out. Freshly baked goods, on the other hand, are just displayed on racks and are bagged in paper bags once purchased, making them an environmentally better choice as no packaging is wasted even if the product remains unsold.
Enjoying Baked Goods
Baked goods are best consumed fresh, the fresher they are, the better.
Depending on the type of baked goods, storage methods may vary, it is best to ask your baker for the best storage method for each item.
For commercial products, storage, and best before information is usually printed on the packaging.
Bake your Own Banana Bread:
Still not convinced that fresh baked goods are worth the extra money? Here’s a quick recipe you can try at home so you can taste the difference between freshly baked from commercially produced products.
Softened butter, 125g. (Salted or unsalted, take your pick)
Salt, a pinch (only if using unsalted butter)
Soft light brown sugar, 125g
Baking powder, 2 teaspoons
Plain/All-purpose flour, 225g
Eggs, 2 pcs, beaten
Ripe bananas, 450g unpeeled weight, mash them
Butter the insides of a 900g loaf tin or bread pan and line with some baking paper. (If your tin is nonstick, you can omit the baking paper). Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat the butter in a bowl with the sugar until fluffy, this should take about two to three minutes. Add the baking soda and half the flour, half the eggs, and half the bananas and mix well. Once mixed, add the rest of the ingredients and mix to make a nice batter.
Pour into bread pan or loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. To check, poke the middle with a stick and if it comes out clean, it should be done.
Allow to cool down for about 10 minutes.
Slice, serve, and enjoy!