Here’s another guest post from Chefbear. This time I asked him how the heck could someone make that staple of life – bread – after TEOTWAWKI if you don’t have flour? Easy as it turns out, if you have mad skills in the kitchen like our Chefbear.
I don’t want to steal his thunder, so here you go.
Thanks again, Chefbear.
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH YOU CAN STILL HAVE BREAD
Hey folks, back again at Jarheads request to spread some knowledge about makin’ bread. What we are going to cover in this post is options besides wheat flour for making bread. Almost any grain can be used to make some form of bread, most of them do not rise the same as wheat flour bread because of the lack of gluten (the protein in wheat). Most other cultures around the world do not rely as heavily on wheat flour as we do in the US. Most of these types of bread would resemble what we would consider a pita or flat-bread. Some of these bread recipes are also gluten-free, again because of the use of non-gluten flours.
Let’s start by going over some basic staples that should be common on the prepper’s shelf which could be used to make flour for bread. Corn, obviously right… cornbread! WRONG, not only can you make cornbread but you can also make REAL bread with a super-fine ground cornmeal. Barley, not just for serving “lamb shanks with cabernet mint reduction” over, it too can be ground into flour and used for baking. Other options include brown or white rice, soy beans and even acorns… huh?!… That’s right I said acorns! I will elaborate on the acorns further on.
Whenever you are going to make bread you need to make sure you have all the ingredients needed before you start. Yeast, baking powder, baking soda & cream of tartar, bakers ammonia, eggs and even simple steam are all leavening agents which give your bread a little lift. Fat is important in most bread recipes and can be anything from butter, vegetable oil, olive oil, shortening, lard or even fat rendered from whatever *edible* animal you can get on a spit! Fat will also help to stave off staling. Salt is needed for almost every bread recipe, not only for taste but it will help to control the rise and may help to prevent “over-proofing”. Sugar will help to enhance the flavor of the bread and like the fat will help to prevent staling by helping to retain moisture. If you are using yeast to leaven, then you will likely need sugar to act as a food source until the yeast can break down the starches in the flour. Taste modifiers may be used to enhance the flavor of your breads, think herbs and spices. A simple dash of black pepper, some ground chili pepper or a touch of poultry seasoning can make the boring, mundane bread into a culinary treat!
So now that we have ingredients covered, let’s get to some recipes.
Fried Cornbread Combine all the ingredients except the fat and mix well
1 cup fine ground cornmeal adjust water so the batter looks similar to pancake mix
½ tsp salt heat the fat in a heavy pan, I like to use a cast iron skillet
½ tbsp honey or sugar when the fat is hot enough to sizzle and evaporate water
½ tbsp powdered milk or buttermilk quickly, spoon in the mix into about 1 ½“ circles
¾ tsp baking powder cook for approx 1.5 min on the first side, or until golden
½ – 1 cup water brown, the top side should resemble a half cooked pancake
2 ½ tbsp fat for frying flip the cakes over and cook on the other side until done
The finished fried cornbread cakes should be drained on paper towels or a cookie-cooling rack to remove excess fat. They will have a slightly fluffy texture inside and crunchy texture outside. They will keep without refrigeration for up to 7 days if stored properly. You can also replace the cornmeal with barley flour, soy flour, rice flour or whatever you have. When using different flour the amount of water will need to be adjusted to get the right consistency. The cooking times may be slightly more or less and you may need more fat for frying because the different flours may absorb more than the cornmeal.
Using the basic recipe above, but replacing the cornmeal with any of the other flours (or a combination of them) you can also make flat bread that can be cooked on a hot rock, grill, in the oven or in a frying pan. You can add about ½ tbsp of fat (oil, shortening, ect) to the dough to enhance the flavor if you would like. Simply adjust the water to make a thicker slightly “sticky” dough and form it into a thin disk. If for example you are cooking on a campfire, you can simply heat a smooth rock (that has been cleaned off as best you can) in the coals and place the dough right on top. Place the rock on top of a small bed of coals and cook until the bread is done. You can flip the bread if you want to, but if done right you won’t have to, because the bread dough is thin (similar to a pizza crust) it should cook all the way though. If you don’t flip it the “uncooked” side will be nice and soft while the cooked side will have a crisp texture. I have done this with barley flour and made pizza out of it, it was delicious! You can also slap the dough straight on the grill to cook.
OK now I am going to explain the acorn to flour idea. It does work; I have done it before and it has a nice “nutty” flavor and light texture. There is also historical proof that this works, during the latter stages of WWII in the pacific the Japanese established quotas of acorns for citizens to gather in support of the empire. *WARNING* This is a time consuming venture, it takes a lot of acorns and you need access to a large amount of clean water, it doesn’t have to be the treated, purified, filtered stuff that you would drink, but don’t just take water out of the creek/pond out back. When I did it I used water from a simple sand cistern and it worked just fine. Place the acorns into a container (I used a plastic 55 gal drum), fill with enough water to cover and place something on top of the acorns to keep them submerged. Let the acorns soak for about 12 hours, drain and repeat. Drain the acorns, shell them and dry them (I dried them on a window screen in the sun). When they have dried hard, simply grind them and use the flour in your recipes. Make sure you remove any acorns that have unusual dark spots or insects in the kernel.
What recipes do you have for non wheat flour breads? Do you have other options besides wheat bread fixin’s in your preps? As always, if you have any questions please ask and I will answer them to the best of my abilities!