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Baking was such a popular pastime during Covid that stores ran out of flour. The silver lining is that now we’ve discovered simple baking ideas that use no flour, less flour, or flour substitutes. This includes new flourless recipes that are truly some of our most delicious—and don’t use a teaspoon of flour!
I love to bake. People of all ages can participate. It’s fun 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.
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.
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,
Your dough may not rise as much as it would have in your original recipe, but you might discover you love the new flavor.
Ever tried Rice Bread? This is another readily-available ingredient.
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.
For a sweet treat, try this Flourless Chocolate Cake. Only 5 ingredients, including black coffee. Sinfully decadent with a fudge-like consistency.
Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles