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Expert Shopper Kitchen

Baking 101: Baked good staples

When it comes to baking, it’s useful to have at least a few simple, go-to recipes under your belt. Homemade baked goods taste better than store-bought, and with the right recipes, they don’t have to be difficult or expensive to make.

We talked to Southern bakers who gave us these staple family recipes that have been perfected over years of practice. The pie crust is easy to throw together for any occasion, as are the lunch rolls (which can be eaten at any meal). The Mississippi Mud makes for a quick dessert that will please any sweet-tooth or chocolate lover.

Easy Lunch Rolls

lunch roll ingredients


1 cup self-rising flour

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

lunch roll mix

2.  Combine the self-rising flour, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

lunch roll add milk

3.  Add the mayonnaise and milk and combine just until everything is moistened.  

lunch roll muffin tin

4.  Fill six to eight regular-sized greased muffin cups or 18 greased miniature muffin cups.

lunch roll bake

5.  Bake for six to eight minutes or until golden brown, checking after six minutes. Serve warm.

lunch rolls

Easy Pie Crust

(Makes two eight-inch pie crusts)

pie crust


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces

5 tablespoons ice water


  1. Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add pieces of the cold vegetable shortening, pulsing to mix until it has crumbles about the size of small peas.  
  2. With the food processor running, add the ice water in a small stream. Mix just until the dough clumps together. (If the dough looks dry, add one additional tablespoon of ice water.)
  3. Divide the dough in half and wrap the two balls of dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour before baking. 
  4. After an hour, place the dough on a floured surface and roll to one eighth-inch thickness. Place in a pie pan and crimp the edges, removing extra dough. Chill again until ready to bake.
  5. To prebake the pie crust*: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the pie crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (can use dry beans). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust begins to turn golden brown.

*Some recipes do not call for pre-baking the crust.  If so, you can eliminate this step.


  • Chilling ingredients for a pie crust is key. The cold shortening and ice water help produce a flaky crust.  
  • Don’t omit the step of letting the pastry dough rest in the refrigerator before baking (both before and after rolling out the dough).
  • Using a food processor for mixing a pie dough allows the dough to be mixed quickly in order to keep the cold ingredients from coming to room temperature.
  • The easiest way to transfer the rolled-out dough to your pie plate is to roll the dough up using your rolling pin, transfer the pin and dough to the pie plate and unroll. This helps prevent tears that occur in transferring from the rolling surface to the pie plate.

Mississippi Mud

mississippi mud

Cake ingredients

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/2 cups pecans

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows

Frosting ingredients

1 16-ounce box of confectioners sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream butter and sugar with your mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until eggs are incorporated well. 
  2. With the mixer on low, slowly add cocoa and flour. Mix just until blended. Fold in pecans. 
  3. Pour into a greased 9- by 13-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Mix together the ingredients for the frosting. 
  5. While the cake is still warm, cover the cake with the marshmallows. 
  6. Pour the frosting over the marshmallows and spread evenly. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.


Cameron Pitts is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. 

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