My son reacts to palm oil. It’s always a challenge at school when kids bring in treats for their birthdays. One year, over 20 students in his class brought in doughnuts! Not only do doughnuts contain palm oil but who needs their kids to eat almost 2 dozen doughnuts in a school year?!
Wanting my son to be included in desserts is what prompted me to start baking from scratch. While no one needs desserts, I didn’t want him to be left out.
It’s very difficult to find premade baked goods that don’t contain palm oil. Most store-bought desserts, cookies, cake mixes, frosting, breads, etc., contain it in some way. In addition to avoiding palm oil, I discuss some other reasons to bake from scratch.
I like easy recipes that don’t require out-of-the-ordinary equipment. Before learning about my son’s palm oil intolerance, the most I did was make muffins at home from scratch. Otherwise, I felt like it was homemade when I used a boxed mix to make brownies or baked a cake from a box mix and used canned frosting. I had made it after all– there was effort involved.
When I wasn’t baking from boxed mixes, I bought birthday cakes, cookies, pastry, pies, and other desserts from the grocery store. There is nothing wrong with this. But in my home, because of the palm oil and the long list of ingredients — many of which are added preservatives — it’s not an option.
In addition to helping people avoid palm oil, I also like to encourage everyone to use real ingredients and to cook and bake at home. I believe baking from scratch is better than buying premade at the store. Here’s why.
Reasons to Bake From Scratch
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I started baking from scratch because of my son’s allergies. I wanted my son to be included in special events and treats. In the process, I learned there are lots of reasons to bake at home. Yes, it takes extra time but I believe it’s worth it.
1. You can avoid palm oil
Most all store-bought bakery and items with dough contain palm oil. This includes cakes, boxed cookies in the cookie aisle and packaged cookies in grocery store bakery departments, ice cream desserts, pies, most all boxed cake mixes, all premade canned frosting, pastries, muffins, scones, turnovers, breads, rolls, crusts, pizza, etc. Basically, most all baked goods in the bakery section at grocery stores.
Even when the advertising on the packaging says it’s “freshly baked” at the store, it will likely still contain a long list of ingredients. Oftentimes, the breads, rolls, pies, and desserts come frozen, and the store is simply baking and/or decorating them (like putting frosting on cupcakes and decorating cakes) on-site.
The biggest reason I bake at home is so I can choose recipes and ingredients that are palm oil free and don’t have to rely on ready-made baked items. One example is Oreos. All Oreos contain palm oil but my recipe for Oreo cakesters does not!
It is very difficult to find premade cookies without palm oil so making your own is a great way to make them palm free.
2. There are so many ingredients in premade bakery, you don’t know what you are buying
Pick up almost any premade dessert in the grocery store, and you will see a long list of ingredients and chemical names. It’s likely you won’t know what many of them are.
In addition to “palm oil” on baked goods, there are also many other ingredient names for palm oil which don’t include “palm” in the name.
When baking from scratch, you will know exactly what the ingredients are.
I looked at a box of chocolate chip cookies in my local grocery store’s bakery department and saw there were 19+ ingredients, many unrecognizable. When you make these small batch chocolate chip cookies at home (even in a larger batch size) there are 9 ingredients. They include: butter, flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, egg, and real chocolate chips.
3. You control the ingredients
Whether you want to bake gluten free, vegan, palm oil free, dairy free, nut free, egg free, soy free, or something else, when you bake from scratch, you choose the ingredients.
This is excellent for people with allergies or intolerances. It’s also good for people who don’t like certain foods or who adhere to eating preferences.
In addition when you bake at home, you can choose to use high-quality ingredients as your budget allows. You can use real butter, cream, milk, eggs, fruit, cacao, organic milk, pure vanilla extract, real milk chocolate, pure maple syrup, local honey, organic sugar and flour, and more. You can choose organic as you wish.
Many ingredients you choose to bake with can be healthier than what you find in premade baked goods.
4. Real ingredients and no preservatives
Grocery store desserts and many breads will include a long list of ingredients. This is so they can be shelf-stable longer. When you bake breads and desserts at home yourself, you will not add preservatives.
One of the best reasons to bake from scratch is you can avoid artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors that are often found in store-bought cookies and other desserts. You can make crispy lemon cookies with real lemon or thumbprint cookies with homemade cherry preserves made from real cherries.
Homemade cookies and treats are always fresher than store-bought desserts. You can serve them as soon as they are cooled from the oven.
You will be making them with fresh butter, fresh eggs, etc. They won’t contain chemical preservatives to extend their shelf-life. Most things you bake from scratch will only be safe to eat for 3 – 5 days. This is because they aren’t made with preservatives.
Baking at home means you can enjoy delicious treats fresh versus packaged products which have been sitting on a shelf for days or even weeks.
Baking at home gives you the freedom to customize the recipe to your liking. If you want more ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon, you can add it. If you want to make it gluten-free or vegan, you can do that too.
There are so many things to bake. You can make exactly what you want. Perhaps you want to bake a 2-layer vanilla cake with real chocolate chips inside and fresh strawberries between the layers with homemade chocolate frosting topped with raspberries and dark chocolate chips. You can make it whatever you want it to be.
One of the best reasons for baking from scratch is it can be more cost-effective than purchasing ready-made from a store. You can often make a large batch of cookies with just a few ingredients and at a fraction of the cost of store-bought cookies. The same is true when making a cake, brownies, biscotti, muffins, scones, frosting, homemade whipped cream, and more.
8. Build your skills
There’s nothing as satisfying as baking that first loaf of bread, pizza crust, or cake from scratch. As you bake, you’ll learn more techniques such as how to make whipped cream using heavy cream and powdered sugar, how to make frosting from powdered sugar and butter, and how to make taco shells from scratch.
9. Preserve treasured family recipes and traditions
Oh how I wish I had the recipes for my grandma’s potato chip cookies, homemade apple pie, and Danish. I do have some family recipes though, for pizzelles, cinnamon rolls, and kolacky. I may not have the amazing knack my ancestors did for baking but it’s fun to create memories for my family now. And the taste brings me back to my childhood.
10. People like homemade
Saying you made a cake from scratch will usually get you more ooohs and aaahs than bringing a store-bought cake or boxed cake mix. It’s impressive and shows you care and took the time to bake something special for the occasion.
Most things taste better when they are homemade as well. I found once I started eating more real ingredients and less chemical, manufactured ingredients, I could taste the difference when I did have a premade baked item.
11. Whip something up when the mood strikes
I find it convenient to be able to bake something up with the ingredients I have when my family and I have a taste or craving for something. By keeping baking staples at home (like flour, sugar, butter, organic eggs, confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, nuts, dates (to make awesome homemade date bars), etc., I can make brownies, chocolate cake, cupcakes, scones, and lots of things without having to run out to the store.
In addition to avoiding palm oil, for me, this is one of the best reasons to bake from scratch. I almost always have enough ingredients to bake something delicious.
12. Fun, quality time, and something to do
Baking is a great way to spend time with family and friends. It’s a fun activity to do with kids or for kids to enjoy with their friends. It’s something to do on a date at home (great for teenagers!), and you’ll end up with delicious treats to enjoy.
Baking is a fun way to spend quality time with your family and friends, especially with kids. You can teach them basic baking skills, math, and even science while having fun.
13. Sense of accomplishment
A big reason to bake homemade is a sense of accomplishment. It does take more time, but there’s something satisfying about making something from scratch, and that includes baked goods. Baking French bread, pizza, pie, strudels, and more at home can be a great way to boost self-esteem and feel a sense of accomplishment while learning (and eating!) new things.
Preservatives to Extend the Shelf-Life of Baked Goods
The only desserts I ever found in stores that didn’t contain palm oil were a few brands of biscotti (then one become discontinued and the other biscotti I found were very expensive), one brand of madeleines, and just recently, a loaf of zucchini bread, and packaged and sliced angel food cake.
Even these contained preservatives to extend the shelf life. BakingBusiness.com explains how companies extend the shelf life of baked goods by delaying oxidation, reducing bacterial and mold growth, and maintaining the appearance, taste and texture of the baked product in order to reduce food waste and control costs. They use chemical preservatives to achieve this.
Baking at Home
You may have other awesome reasons you bake from scratch.
With all the added ingredients and preservatives to increase shelf-life, more people are (cooking and) baking at home. I started baking from scratch when I learned my son was allergic to palm oil.
I was stunned to read ingredients while standing in the bakery department at my local grocery store and see most every premade dessert had palm oil in it. They also all had long lists of ingredients. As I learned more about palm oil, I also saw the many ways palm oil hides in baked goods, oftentimes not using “palm” in the name.
There are so many easy things to bake from scratch. I hope you will take the time to learn how to bake a cake from scratch or to make waffles from scratch. Once you do it, you’ll see how it’s a lot easier than you may have thought. There are many ingredients you can use to make palm oil free desserts and a few to watch out for.
Thanks for reading and being interested in reasons to bake from scratch. Let me know in the comments if you have more to say about this. Why do you bake?