Baking With Limited Ingredients
Baking has become such a popular pastime during this quarantine that some stores have run out of flour. With that in mind, let’s consider (1) some simple baking ideas that use less flour, (2) low-flour recipes, and (3) no-flour recipes. We’ve added new flourless recipes that are truly some of our most delicious and don’t use a teaspoon of flour!
With tens of millions of Americans practicing physical distancing by self-quarantining at home—alone, with spouses, partners, siblings, parents, and/or children—it’s natural for us to reach out for social companionship online.
As entertainment and for socializing, many of us have taken to social media platforms to find out how others are faring, and to share what’s happening in our lives. Beyond the grim stories, people are sharing the struggles, joys, and occasional hilarity of working or just hanging out at home. They’re posting adorable video clips of companion animals and children, tips for hair-cutting and styling, advice for dressing for online work (Hot tip: if videoconferencing, appear fully dressed), and for exercising in cramped environments.
And hey! We’re baking!
Many folks took pandemic preparations to heart, stocking up on basic, non-perishable pantry ingredients, and have now started cooking from scratch, some of them for the first time. Parents have taken advantage of their quarantine to introduce children to the kitchen arts and sciences; live-in grandparents have stepped up to show off their culinary expertise.
Baking has become an especially popular quarantine pastime, especially simple recipes using only a few ingredients. People of all ages can participate. We have the time to try new things. It helps overcome boredom. And everyone loves the fragrances drifting from the oven. Plus usually (though not always), whatever comes out of the oven, people find delicious.
Note: Quarantined folks in some parts of the nation have found ordinary wheat flours in short supply in their local markets, and most online suppliers have been out of stock for weeks. While experts expect a gradual return of flour supplies, they also say availability may be spotty over the coming weeks and months.
Tips on Simple Baking
- Flatbreads: I’m always making flatbread. It’s fun, uses less flour, and makes it easy to pile on the vegetables and fresh ingredients! Make a small batch of wheat-flour dough, knead and let rise as usual, then roll out golf-ball sized pieces as thin as possible and bake on a pizza pan or cookie sheet at 425° for a couple of minutes flipping them over once. These flatbreads are more versatile than slices off a loaf. Use them as roll-ups for fillings of your choice; cut them into quarters, toast them a bit, and top them with cheese and broil. Cut into even smaller pieces, sprinkled with oil and herbs, then toasted, they make great crackers. They freeze well, too. Simply stack, slide into a plastic freezer bag and remove as you need them. See two flatbread recipes for whole grain and chickpea.
- Muffins: Muffins use much less flour than bread. They also contain eggs and milk, generally available in most stores, since the local hens keep laying and the region’s cows keep giving milk. So make muffins instead of bread loaves! Try these French Morning Muffins!
- Dutch Babies: Have you tried baked German pancakes? Also called Dutch babies, Bismarcks, or Dutch puffs, this close relative of the popover calls for eggs, milk, a small amount of flour, and a bit of salt. Depending on whether you want a sweet or savory pancake, you could add either sugar or your favorite herbs/spices.
Baked pancakes offer advantages to quarantine bakers:
- No standing at the stove, pouring batter and flipping pancakes for others; the cook gets to sit down with everyone else.
- Fast and easy. Just a couple of minutes to whisk the batter. The rest is in the baking, which gives you time to fix the salad or steam the vegetables.
- Versatile: serve them with maple syrup or jam for a sweet breakfast; add your favorite herbs to the batter and top the pancake with sliced avocado, tomatoes, cheese and sliced chicken. You get the idea.
Low on Flour?
I always have two or three bags of whole wheat flour and a bag of white (pizza-crust) flour on hand (double-bagged in the freezer), so I’m still baking pretty much as always. Here are some more tips when you’re strapped for flour, but you want to bake:
If you still have some wheat flour, extend your supply a little longer by replacing up to one-quarter of the flour your recipe calls for with:
- rolled oats/oat flour,
- rye, or
- buckwheat flour.
Your dough may not rise as much as it would have in your original recipe, but you might discover you love the new flavor.
Here’s a recipe for Whole Wheat Bread made with some rye flour.
Try Oatmeal Bread—one of my favorites. I always have oats in the house.
Ever tried Rice Bread? This is another readily-available ingredient.
Photo: Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake.
What, No Flour?
Substitute bulgur wheat (ground wheat berries, partially cooked, dried, and bagged) which is still widely available. Try using it in any sweet or savory muffin recipe. We often add an extra egg for moisture and taste. Or, here are some recipes:
- Try this no-flour Honey Oat Bread made with only oat flour and let us know what you think!
- If you love cornbread, try a flourless version. Crumbly, with deep flavor. Great accompaniment to soup or chowder.
- How about Coconut Quick Bread? It’s made with coconut flour!
- For a sweet treat, try this Flourless Chocolate Cake. Only 5 ingredients, including black coffee. Sinfully decadent with a fudge-like consistency.
- For lighter dessert fare, or just for snacking, try these mixed nut macaroons.
- Craving brownies? We’ve substituted flour with black beans which also add moistness. See if anyone notices! Here’s our black bean brownies recipe.
- There’s always cheesecake! This No-Crust Almond Cheesecake is a great dessert option for people with gluten sensitivites, too.
Photo: No-Crust Almond Cheesecake. Credit: Maslova Valentina/Shutterstock
Do you have a recipe for something delicious you’ve baked recently that requires little or no flour? Please share!