Baking tips and hacks if you can’t find all your ingredients

April 9, 2020

Baking tips and hacks if you can’t find all your ingredients


Baking Tips and Hacks if you can’t find all your ingredients

In this Coronavirus quarantine, people are more inspired than ever to get in the kitchen and make something from scratch, especially bread and cake… but some baking ingredients have been hard to find in the supermarkets. So here is a list of baking tips and hacks to help make the most of the ingredients that you can find. We have sourced our recipes from a number of other websites, chefs and bakers and each recipe is linked to their sites.

No Yeast.

Finding those little packets of yeast is a little bit like finding gold at the moment but there are some ways to still make bread without it.

  • Make your own Sourdough Starter. Sourdough takes a little bit longer to make, but you can make your own sourdough starter just from strong bread flour and water. It takes a bit of a commitment to keep it ‘fed’ and growing every day, but it does result in delicious, homemade bread.
  • Beer Bread – this recipe uses the yeast in beer to accelerate the rise.
  • Irish Soda Breadthe buttermilk and the Bicarb together aids the rise but also adds a softer texture to the bread.
  • Cornbread – Cornbread is a great accompaniment to a chilli and can be made with plain flour and polenta, using baking powder/bicarb as the raising agent.

No strong bread flour.

Many shops have sold out of strong bread flour (the type of flour has the best gluten structure to traditionally allow the breads to be kneaded, proved and baked into that lovely, airy bread structure). There are some bread recipes that can be adapted to plain flour (which seems more available), especially if you are looking for recipes for pizza bases or bread rolls. Nb. Plain flour and the slightly more expensive (but more available) ’00’ grade flour can be used interchangeably for most bakes.

  • 1 Hour Dinner Rolls – this is an American bake and produces soft and delicious which bread rolls using plain flour. They go stale pretty quickly but you can freeze them. The recipe is in cups rather than weights and they call the flour ‘All-purpose’ but that is the same our the UK plain flour. If you don’t have cups at home, just google the measurements.
  • Pizza dough – Delia Smith actually recommends using plain flour instead of strong flour. Here is her recipe.

No Self-Raising Flour.

Many cake recipes use self-raising flour, which is currently hard to find in the shops. You can create this yourself using plain flour and baking powder to a ratio of 110g of plain flour to 1 level teaspoon of baking powder.

No Plain Flour.

This is a little trickier. If you have strong flour and self-raising flour, you can combine to make the strong a little less ‘strong’ and the self raising a little less ‘raising’! Wholewheat flour can also be a substitute, as can spelt flour.

You can also substitute a gluten free plain flour for plain flour if you don’t need much structure or the eggs provide the rise (like brownies or pancakes).

Almond flour (or ground almonds if you are desperate) can also substituted in… and ground almonds make amazing Friands if you are looking for a tasty cake recipe with barely any flour (you can use a muffin tin if you don’t have a friand tin).

Polenta can also be used in some bakes… like this Nigella Lawson recipe for Lemon Polenta Cake.

No Caster Sugar.

Many sweet recipes use caster sugar in their ingredients and as a result, it is largely sold out in many places. There are many other types of sugar still available and many of them behave in exactly the same way as caster sugar.  The only thing to watch for is that it may slightly affect the flavour. For example, a soft brown sugar would make the bake taste a little more caramel and similarly for a golden caster sugar. This can however be a great advantage to the bake, especially for something like a chocolate cake. It can also add a little caramel depth to a bread recipe.

At a push, you can also grind up the courser, granulated sugar to make it finer, using a food processor or a coffee/spice grinder.

No Eggs.

Eggs were/are in short supply in supermarkets but many local farm shops and butchers have lots of local eggs. Check out our list of local businesses to find places close to you.

Gluten Free Baking. 

This is much trickier as gluten free flours (chick pea, coconut, rice etc) all behave differently and absorb moisture etc differently. If you have a gluten free baking question, please do send us an email and we’ll find out the answer and let you know. Email


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