The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Time to get the substitutes!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Time to get the substitutes!

There is nothing like the lack of an ingredient to stimulate the creativity in all of us. (Some of us do it all the time! I mean, run out of ingredients.) A flour, oil, shortage or rapid jump in price will also inspire us to look for substitutes. So, here with the ideas for substitution in flavour texture or price!  

All ideas and inspirations welcome!

Rye is disappearing, at least until the next crop is in, so what else can we use? organic grass seeds?  Different Cultures have different substitutes, some of these cross over nicely.

What have you tried? How did it work or not work? Here is the place and time! Don't be shy....

 

Mini O

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

For example, I hope KosherBaker doesn't mind when I quote

..."for anyone who has not used Barley flour in their breads before, I cannot recommend it enough. Especially if Whole Wheat style loaves. The flavor it imparts is absolutely addictive."

KosherBaker, how much is a good substitute?

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I have noticed that in America you like your rye! I do too but I use all sorts of grains. I really like spiking a basic bread with semi-whole wheat which may or may not be your high extraction flour when I want a white bread with a twist (most always because white bread is kind of boring in my opinion). And I'm also a big fan of spelt, white or whole.

In my cupboards I have buckwheat, spelt, corn flour and meal, wheat in all it's shades, we still have rye.

I haven't tried Barley flour. I did buy some barley berries the other day.

Jane 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and just catching on to rye. I love rye, and can still find it. I'm with you on the white bread and have a hard time making a 100% all purpose white loaf. Have you ever tried flours from beans, peas, other grains like sorghum, roots like cassava (tapioca) or fruits like plantains (starchy bananas)?

I suppose most bake with what is available, and tropical zones have other locally grown options.

Wild rice flour? Arrowroot?  Cat tail roots?

Mini O

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I make the Tibetan Barley Bread from Alford and Duguid's Flatbreads and Flavour, and they have you toast the barley flour before adding it to the dough.  It really does bring out the flavour and it's a super bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Paddy, that sounds interesting.  How much barley flour is used as compared to other flours in the recipe?  

I was quite impressed at the variety of grains and grasses growing all over China.  I had a narrow idea of Chinese cooking when I first went there.  I could not tell you a fraction of the items being sold in the local markets or how they were used. 

Mini O

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

It's 3 cups barley flour and 1 cup ww flour.  I'll post the recipe if you'd like.  It's made in a cast-iron frying pan in the oven and is really a very good, if rather dense and chewy bread.  Perfect to have with soup, salad, cheese, of just on its own.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from Wikibooks ...out of the gluten free zone...food for thought


Cornstarch is ideal for thickening, but does not have a pleasant flavour. Too much corn starch in a liquid sauce will give a jelly-like consistency. In baking, corn starch often gives a more pleasant texture, but can give a very hard, dense consistency.

Rice flour is close to wheat flour in behaviour, taste, absorption, and thickening. However, it lacks any binding ability whatsoever, and works best when combined with other flours and starches in baked goods; delicate baked goods may fail if attempted with rice flour alone.

Sweet rice and white rice flour is finer than brown rice flour. Choose the finest grind possible for gluten-free baking; coarser grinds are slightly gritty.

Brown rice flour is a whole grain flour containing higher protein than the white rice flours, and imparts a pleasant heft to baked goods. Sweet white rice flour from a Chinese or Asian grocery is as fine and powdery as cornstarch, and behaves similarly in baked goods. Sweet rice flour can be used as a thickener in gravies. Brown rice flour also makes a good roux for cheese sauces, gumbos, or brown sauces.

Potato starch is a light starch that will rise with egg as the leavening agent. Allows lighter baked goods. Use is limited by the short shelf life of products made using this starch.

Potato flour is a pleasant thickener for gravies and can also be used in baked goods. Some bread recipes also use mashed potato flakes! Gum

A strong binding agent that is used to replace the "stretchy" quality inherent in gluten, xanthan gum is often added to gluten-free flour blends to promote an improved texture. Use sparingly in bread, cake and cookie recipes. Xanthan gum is the fermentation product of the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris.

Some Other binders

Xanthan gum is the most popular binding agent, but others can be used too. These include soya lethicin, guar gum, carageenan, carob (locust bean) gum and even gelatin. These agents are often used in combination with each other.

Tapioca starch is a thickening agent often used in Chinese foods and gum candies. This starch is derived from cassava (aka manioc) roots; it is the same tapioca as in tapioca pearls, or tapioca pudding. Best used in combination with other gluten-free flours.

Flour made from chickpeas, a popular alternative to gluten flours. This flour is commonly used in Indian cooking and can often be found in Indian or Asian grocery stores, sometimes labelled "besan". It has an unpleasant taste when raw but has a good approximation of wheat flour's texture when cooked. Unfortunately, some may find that it promotes flatulence.

Sorghum flour (also known as sweet sorghum or jowar) makes an excellent wheat flour substitute in quick-leavened baked goods such as muffins or banana bread. It is ground from the small, millet-like grains of the sorghum plant (used to make sorghum syrup). Sweet white sorghum flour is a pale pinkish-brown in color and has a pleasant, faintly sweet and grassy taste. It is best combined with a gluten-free starch such as cornstarch or tapioca and creates a fine crumb, good texture.

Gluten-free bread recipes often contain skim milk powder. It adds protein and also has beneficial effects on the end product. The casein in milk makes it a good emulsifier, and it makes for a finer crumb and better consistency. People who are allergic to dairy can try substituting soy milk powder, but the results will not be as good.

Soya flour is also often added to gluten-free bread recipes to add protein.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Most of these flours on your list I have in my special "gluten free" box for the gluten free bread I make. I never use them for normal bread for the simple reason that they cost a FORTUNE! A gluten free bread costs over 3 euros to make while a normal one under 1 euro. I do sometimes use buckwheat and chestnut flour. The other thing is that some of these flours don't have a lot of taste. They may modify the texture but that's it (like potato starch and white rice flour). I often use brown rice flour for the GF bread because at least it tastes like something! The French also use "petit épeautre" but that is also very expensive.

Wheat is just so affordable!

And I don't think rye is a new trend in the States. Growing up in North America you could always have your sandwich on "white" or "rye". There is a long heritage of Easter Europeans in the States that came over with their dear rye bread. I have fond memories of the strong smell and taste of a real rye with carraway seeds. Same with those dark German, breads with the berries in them. I remember my friend who's parents were German would come to school every day with a sandwich made from that. I thought it was delicious!

Mini, I'm a bit slow, I didn't realise you were in Europe!

Jane 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

these flours could also be less expensive in the land where they are grown. 

Yes Jane, I'm close enough to catch a train.  Got married 1984 in Austria.  (I remember reading a required book for the 8th grade with a similar title.)  Next year it'll be 25 years! 

Growing up in the states, my Family used to go on about how well my greatgrandmother could bake.  Both my grandmothers had bread delivered to their farms  (Rural Wisconsin/Iowa), this already long before WWII.  My parents love visiting here and are surprised that we eat low salt and so many whole grains.  

20 years ago, In the mid-west, it was customary to be offered the choice of "white" or "dark" bread most often whole wheat, rye was reserved for Rhuben sandwhiches.  Maybe in the Eastern states, rye was more popular.  Just lately it seems to be a trend to offer cinnamon rolls with evening meals at steak houses!  My 80 plus aunties and uncles just love it!  My stomach can't handle it.  These are the aunts that showed me how to bake sticky buns and caramel corn, how to churn butter and chop the head off chickens.  

My parents taught me lots of things and how to make the best of a situation.  That's where this thread has come from.  I don't think the flour shortage will last long.  But I don't see the prices coming down, not in a long time.  The cost of plowing/sewing/reaping  a field  will have to come down first.  The overall demand for grains is also growing.  Make sure your demands are heard where you buy your supplies, even when they are sold out.  Eventually this demand informs the growers what to plant.  I have noticed that the spaces between corn plants is closer together this year, is that possible?

Mini O 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

My dream is to visit Vienna! Your part of Europe is so beautiful! Well, here ain't so bad either. I'm in paradise so to speak.

For wheat prices, I find it strange because they go up and down. Of the two brands I buy, stone-ground organics T65 and T110, there is a 69 centimes difference for a kilo of flour. I bought eight kilos yesterday, so that's a difference of 5 euros 52. That's HUGE!!! A year ago, I couldn't even find organic flour for under 1 euro 20. Prices here, like everywhere, have gone up drastically, but I find that I can keep my food bill pretty normal but being much more judiscious. I just buy simple ingredients and cook. No or little "extras". I make our yogurt, fromage blanc, bread, cakes, etc. So instead of buying boxes, cans and jars, I'm just buying milk, eggs, flour, sugar, meat and vegetables on a weekly basis. It's also more ecological - little or no packaging. But what really struck me this weekend as I was cooking meals, baking, bread, making sticky buns, etc ... when a mom/dad decides to cook/bake all the time for the family (here we are seven people) a LOT of the day is taken up with that activity! I'm not one of those moms that sits on the couch and flips through magazines. As a friend of mine said yesterday, even a very simple meal demands time... to cook and to CLEAN.

But, here in France, many people have all of a sudden woken up and realized that if prices remain so high, life is not going to be an easy ride and people will have to learn to do more things for themselves and make sacrifices. We can't just grab the car and go out anymore. Or buy expensive food products, ready made, for every day (who would want to? but that's another debate). 

The bread movement is a really intersting one because it is one of the most expensive products for what it is. A loaf of organic sourdough 900g costs around 6 euros and up! I can make it for under a 1 euro. The savings for a family of seven bread eaters are HUGE! So, it is great to be able to chat with all of you here who are passionate about making excellent bread and not just white bread in a bread machine (which has its place however). I'm sorry for those artisanal bakers in France that are losing customers to bread machines (it's a fact!) but there wil always be the staple bread buyers. I just like the idea of being able to produce a bread good enough to be sold in a bakery and for so much cheaper.

As for other types of flour, I think you are absolutely right. Rice flour will be cheaper in Asia, etc. Those flours will remain "special" flours I think and always be more expensive in Europe and the USA. In France Spelt and Rye and pretty reasonable. No problem with rye here, we still have plenty! 

And with that, I shall go get the children ready for school. My 11 mth old daughter slept the night for the first time and I have had a half an hour all by myself. Luxury!

Jane