Breads: A Famine Food Tutorial

Daaaaang woman. So, I started writing this post in August of 2013. And then, I couldn’t get tables to work properly. So, just shy of a year later, I’m giving it another go. And they still don’t work properly. I hope you will forgive me; this is going to be one of those content over aesthetic  posts.  And boy can I write… (or not).


At the outset of this little project I publicly declared that I would have a recipe for all occasions. Considering that some of my recipes take an entire day to make, I thought I’d opt for something a little quicker this time. Oh, and cheaper. Much, much cheaper. So, all of you people that hoard and polish pennies in your free time, listen up.

There comes a low point in every person’s life when they realize that all they have in their pantry is a bag of flour, random seasonings/utilitarian crap, and some oil or butter. Or, maybe some scraps of animal flesh they can harvest for fat.   If you are lucky in this pathetic scenario, you also have some eggs, or vegan egg substitutes.   Perhaps in your kitchen, where animal fibers are forbidden, you have coconut oil and some flax seeds.  Sadly, this has happened to me on more than one occasion, and with payday more than one day away, I had to take drastic measures.  No, I didn’t make a sign and roam the subways, I improvised with a handful of ingredients based on some very basic principles.

OK, Rant time.

Learning to cook well is not just about being able to follow directions on a piece of paper- it’s about knowing what to do when those directions fail you, and knowing how certain ingredients interact to create the final product.  There’s actually an epic chef out there named Heston Blumenthal (control thyselves, Greeks) who has made a living exploring this exact topic. He wrote a book called Kitchen Chemistry which I suggest you all go out and read. And for those of you who are mentally lazy, you can watch him in action by YouTubing  “In Search of Perfection” and “Kitchen Chemistry“.  It’s good stuff, I promise.

Anyway, as an homage to kitchen geekery I bring to you.. a table for your table. I’M SO CHEESY!!! Don’t you love me?


Let’s do the rundown.

  • Gluten Free: Nope, unless you use a gluten free flour of your choice, in which case, you will need eggs.
  • Vegan: Yep, unless you use butter or milk
  • SCD: No, unless you want to make your friends bleed out of.. uh.. nevermind. But, we can hack it.
  • Vegetarian: Yep, could be.
  • Cheap: Extremely
  • Quick: Extremely

So what are we doing here? Well we need to make some kind of bread with very limited ingredients. To do this we are going to call upon the cardinal principles of something or other that I can’t think of the name for.

To make any kind of bread or cake, or fritter, or frittata, or whatever, you need: A flour, A liquid, a fat, leaven, a binder, and heat. Flavoring is optional, but helpful. Once you realize this, you can make a bread or a cake out of just about anything edible.  The principles below will help you figure out just which components to swap in/out.

  1. Wheat flour is glutinous, therefore it is cohesive. If your dough is thick enough, it doesn’t need eggs to bind it, since the gliadin/gluten in wheat binds the mix. For a discussion on what eggs do in cakes, see here.
  2.  Gluten Free Flours, Nut Flours and Bean Flours are not nearly as cohesive. They will need eggs to bind and support them. I have been told that flax seeds are also a good alternative to eggs, along with maybe some xanthan gum or guar gum, but if you are broke, I really don’t think you have this stuff lying around. Perhaps investigate doing a more dense cake? Other things that help with the texture of gluten free flours: tapioca and potato starches, oat flour and amaranth.
  3.  Adding oil or some sort of fat to bread or cake makes it more moist, and makes for a crispier crust. Solid fats can be “cut” into the flour to make fluffy biscuits or smooth crusts.  Fats are also used to grease pans so that our breads don’t stick to them. I don’t recommend “cutting” a liquid fat into a flour. It probably won’t work.
  4. All bread/cake products need something to leaven them, so they don’t bake into a solid, inedible brick. [Unless of course, you want to get all semi-Biblical by making Matzoh.] You could get away with this if you are doing something that has the consistency of a pudding, but if you are looking for something “fluffy” you will need a leavener. What most people don’t realize is that leavening something just means creating air bubbles in it so it rises.  And lots of things will do that. See the table for the more popular options.
  5. Shredded vegetables can be combined with eggs, milk and cheese to make quiches.
  6. Fruits can be ground up and used as substitutes for fats, if you are running low. Do you have extra pulp from your juicer? You can throw it into a fritter or cake  if you season it right. Or, just compost it  (you cheap bastard…)
  7. For a more expansive list of Flour profiles, see here:
  8. Use your judgement. You wouldn’t make a banana bread and season it with tomato soup.  If you only have corn flour, you may have to use eggs, since corn flour does not bind well. Or, you know, don’t use leftover ranch dressing in chocolate chip cookies, put it in your biscuits instead 🙂

Remember, you are totally broke.  Here is your emergency kit, depending on the diet. Oh, and I’m not endorsing any of these, by the way. Just offering a helping hand to someone who’s on a diet and might need some recipe ideas.

Any kind of flour, pureed fruit, vegetable or hybrid thereof. Some Examples:  Almond, Walnut, Wheat, Whole Wheat, Rice, Oat, Brown Rice, Potato, Tapioca, Amaranth, Corn, Coconut, Buckwheat, Garbanzo Bean, Chickpea Flour
Adventurous Bases: Leftover Rice, Leftover Pasta
Any kind, though  juices, wines, beers and soft drinks are not really recommended.Preferable: Liquefied Fruits, Broths and stocks, Cream, Butter, Yogurt,  Sour Cream, Buttermilk, Water, Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, etc.
Adventurous Options: Soups, Mayonnaise (YES!), Curds/Wet Cheeses, Leftover Dressing,
Anything “Alive”: Yeast, Raw Beer, Cultured Buttermilk, Raw Sour Cream, Crema Mexicana, Raw Ginger Beer, Kefir, Yogurt, Sourdough Starter, Whey protein concentrate, Raw Fermented Vegetable Juice (Kimchi, Pickles, Sauerkraut), Kombucha, Kombucha Scoby, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar “mother”. Not recommended: Wine or Raw Cheese.
Chemical Leaveners. Be sure to read about interactions here. Baking Powder, Baking Soda/Vinegar/Anything Acidic, Cream of Tartar/Baking Soda,
Eggs, Flax Seeds,Tofu, Gelatin, Kosher Gelatin, Agar,  Vegan Gelatin, Gluten,
Oils ,Lard ,Suet, Rendered Animal Fat, Avocados, Mayonnaise, Sour Cream, Cream, Butter or Butter Substitutes (even though I hate them), Palm Oils, Coconut Oil.
Creative Options: Rendered Steak Trimmings, Rendered Chicken Skin, Bacon Grease
Any Sweet or Savory Combination.
An Oven, A stove top, a Grill, A propane heater, an open fire, or the hood of your grandfather’s Buick, though I don’t recommend it…
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
Any kind of flour, pureed fruit, vegetable or hybrid thereof.
 All liquids OK.  Except, maybe, Pig Blood… but seriously, no chicken or beef broth.
Other Suggestions: Yogurt
All leaveners allowed
All binders except eggs and gelatin.
Vegetable Oils, Avocados, Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Vegan Butters, Butter, Cream
Any Sweet or Savory Combination.
 ” “
Any kind of flour, pureed fruit, vegetable or hybrid thereof. But nothing made from animals, of course.
No Dairy. Substitutes Include: Soy Milk, Nut Milks, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk, Liquefied Fruits also do very nicely.
All leaveners allowed
Flax Seeds, Agar, Potato and Corn Starches, Tofu, Bananas. See Here for great ideas. Also, See here
All vegetable oils, margarine (if you want to go this route), Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Avocados
Any Sweet or Savory Combination, except for animal products. Some include honey here, too.
 ” “
Any Nut Flour, Coconut Flour, Farmer Cheese, Eggs, Ground up vegetables. If you are adventurous, you can even try ground beef, to make some kind of meat loaf…
NO: Chickpeas, Potatoes, Wheat, Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Oats, Barley, Or anything that is a grain or a starch, period.
Sugar/Starch Free Broth
Baking Soda, cut lards, or whipped egg whites only.
Eggs, Gelatin.
Ghee, Olive an Nut Oils, Lard, Tallow, Bacon Grease, Avocado, Butter
For sweeteners raw, unpasteurized honey is best. You can also use whole, legal fruits, if allowed.   See here. If you are going the savory route, then go nuts with herbs, but remember, nothing starchy or processed 🙂 Might want to lay off the alcohol, too.
  ” “
 Oat Flour (sometimes), Potato Starch, Nut Flours, Coconut Flour, Tapioca Starch, Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Bean Flours, Amaranth, Arrowroot, Yucca, Cassava,
All gluten-free liquids.
All chemical and biological Leaveners OK- except for sourdough that is grown in a flour culture. (duh)
Eggs, Flax Seeds,Tofu, Gelatin, Kosher Gelatin, Agar, Vegan Gelatin,
See non-allergy
Any Sweet or Savory Combination. but avoid items with hidden gluten: Beer, Soy Sauce,  pre-packaged dressings or soups.
  ” “
No refined flours allowed. So we are looking at Coconut Flour, Nut Flours, and Bean Flours. Some people can tolerate stone-ground, whole wheat flours, oat flours, or whole brown rice flours, but not everyone can.
Non-dairy liquids, non-sweetened liquids, water, Coconut Milk. NO ALCOHOL or VINEGAR. No Soy Sauce, or fermented stuff. Some people can tolerate Yogurt or Kefir, but this is up to you.
Chemical Leaveners Only. No Vinegar, but Lemon Juice is OK. Some people can tolerate Kefir or Yogurt, but this is up to you. Nothing alcoholic. Yeast is not allowed.
Eggs, Flax Seeds,Tofu, Gelatin, Kosher Gelatin, Agar, Vegan Gelatin,
See non-allergy. Perhaps adding raw, unpasteurized fermented vegetables.
 No sugar, alcohol, or vinegar. SO, no ketchup or Mayo.  No cheese, though some will debate otherwise.  Nothing fermented, no mushrooms. Some say berries and peanuts are also not OK. But do the reasearch and figure it out for yourself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s