Making Bread After TEOTWAWKI

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.

-Jarhead Survivor


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!

12 comments… add one
  • Spook45 January 31, 2011, 8:55 am

    On a smaller scale, you can boil acorn to rid them if the excess acidity. Besides flour, they can be dried and ground and used as a coffee sub. and they can be rosted and eaten as is. Cat tails also make a very fine flour but it takes a lot of them to get enough to use. Good article, Iam always looking for new foods from the land or foods I didnt know about.

  • Prepared N.D. January 31, 2011, 11:04 am

    Bean & Rice flour – Duh! I can’t believe I haven’t thought of that one already.

    I started searching random things I had around the house and come across potato flour. That looks useful but seems like it would be extremely time consuming.

    Thanks for expanding my horizons this morning!

  • already there... February 1, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Question for Spook45 or anybody who can answer it…what part of the cattail do you use? The root? Also wondering if you have any info on how to use the other parts. I heard that every part is edible, but wondering how people have used each part.

    Question for Prepared N.D….you mention that making potato flour is time-consuming. How do you make it?

    Question for anybody…I have heard of people making flour out of inner barks of trees. Adirondak, for instance, means “bark-eater.” Wondering if anybody has tried it. Which trees?

    • Ranger Man February 1, 2011, 3:09 pm

      You can google cattail uses for the info, different parts are edible at different parts of the year.

    • Prepared N.D. February 1, 2011, 4:35 pm

      I haven’t tried it. I ran across that yesterday while Googling “(insert veggie) flour” on random vegetables, etc I had around the house. It looks like there are two or three different techniques.

      The example I looked at called for slicing it extremely thin, then drying it, then grinding it (hopefully resulting in flour).

      It just seemed time consuming compared to grinding corn or beans with the extra steps involved.

  • GoneWithTheWind February 1, 2011, 4:49 pm

    For what it’s worth before I started prepping I rarely ate bread. Now I make bread once or twice a week. We still don’t eat most of it (I know, we are wasting food) I primarily make it to get better at making bread. I store wheat and flour and I will know I will love fresh bread post SHTF. But pretty much bread has never been my staff of life. In fact for the first 20 years of my adult life it was rare to even have flour in the house. So if TSHTF and I don’t have wheat or flour I don’t expect to be grinding up acorns or something else to make bread. I will probably eat what I’ve got and probably cook it in the simplest way available to me.

  • ChefBear58 February 1, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Sorry for the delay, I have been dealing qith the worst headache I have ever experienced as result of a concussion yesterday evening. Please bear with me if my spelling is off or if I don’t answer your questions to your expectations. If further clarification please let me know and I will elaborate.

    @Spook45- I haven’t tried roasting acorns for a coffee replacement, I have used roasted chicory a few times… definately lacks the “punch” of real coffee. I also have not tried making flour from cat-tail roots, gonna have to try that one! Thanks! I do know that roasted young cat-tail roots has a texture similar (not exactly but reminicent) to marshmallow, which originally was a confection made from the Althaea officinalis plant mixed with honey… not like the stuff passed off as marshmallow these days.

    @Prepared N.D.- Most beans can be ground into a flour, rice as well. My favorite is a bread one of my friends makes out of chickpea flour, I don’t recall the name but it is from the middle east (his parents are Persian). Most starchy vegetables can also be made into a type of flour. There are several ways to do this, the method I am most familiar with is making potato flour. This requires that you boil potatoes into oblivion with as little water possible, cook the potatoes into a paste, dry the paste, and then flake it into a flour like substance. The imortant thing to remember with any of these improvised flours is that they do not contain gluten. Since they don’t have gluten they will not rise like wheat flour.

    @already there…- The most common part of the cat-tail to eat is the roots, they are very starchy and provide a good bit of calories and complex sugars. I have eaten cat-tail shoots (when they first start growing), not the best tasting wild edible, but they can provide you with much needed calories in a pinch. The quality of water they grow in will effect their taste, the best coming from moving water sources, the worst from stagnant shallow ponds. Probably the best thing to use them for is tinder/insulation. Simply shred the “tail” and stuff it into your jacket or use it to start a fire, extremely effective tinder even when damp.

    @GoneWithTheWind- One thing you can use the extra/stale bread for is a thickening agent in soups/stews. A perfect axample of this technique is gazpachio. I have used stale bread to thicken deer stew, its a great way to add calories and texture to dishes, and would be invaluable when every calorie counts.

    Again, if I have not answered your questions to my typical standard please let me know.

    Thanks Jarhead & Ranger Man!

    • Prepared N.D. February 2, 2011, 12:45 am

      Hope you get to feeling better. If you have Feverfew, you can make a tea out of that, it’ll take the edge off the headache and help with the nausea if your concussion was bad enough to cause that.

      Don’t take it if you’re already taking something though. It doesn’t mix well with OTC and prescription meds.

    • shotzeedog February 2, 2011, 5:07 pm

      Chefbear I hope you were checked out by a medical professional as a concusion with a very bad headache could be something serious/fatal.

      • ChefBear58 February 4, 2011, 2:24 pm

        Thanks guys, they “scanned my CAT” and everything is good. Getting back to normal now.

  • Goldencat February 22, 2011, 3:02 am

    Bread adventures:
    Ground flax seed can be used in place of eggs as a binder to keep your bread from disintegrating, whether from your non-yeast leavening method, low gluten in the flour, or scarcity of eggs. It is also very valuable for keeping your digestion moving along (risk of constipation from low fiber foods, depending what you’ve stored up) and providing essential fatty acids. Those are vital elements in keeping good immunity, supple skin, and much more.

    Caveat – flax oils go rancid fast once it’s ground into meal, and nutritional values is lost. So make it up within a couple days of use.

    Another caveat – if your mineral balance is off, particularly deficient in zinc, flax oil tastes fishy. It should have a pleasing fresh, almost buttery flavor. The ground flax, less so, but still a clean taste. The fishiness does NOT mean it is rancid. It means you are :-)

    You can also toss some flax into whatever porridge you cook up, for the lubricating effects and added fats.

    I have heard chia seeds are “the new flax” but haven’t tried em. YES the same chias you see on chia-pets. So if it annoys you, you can eat the chia you got for Christmas years back. lol.

    Both seeds are good keepers, as per other intact grains.

  • Goldencat February 22, 2011, 3:18 am

    More bread and oil adventures:
    Unrefined coconut oil is a popular choice among my women’s group for emergency provisions. It has a great fatty acid profile – about all the right fats in good proportions – and is stable without refrigeration, and non-oxidizing. Won’t turn bad on the pantry shelf.

    Look it up on the naturopathic forums/sites for infinite details about this underrated food oil.

    I noticed it makes a less fluffy dough, whatever you use it in, where butter, lard, or Crisco stuff makes flakier or lighter products. Other liquid oils do similarly.

    Coconut oil should smell faintly of coconut. You do not want the refined odorless version. It ceases to be healing and nutritious.

    CO can be used to fry food, make healing ointments with herbs/tinctures you make, soothe raw or burned skin, heal stomach irritations, and even lose weight if you eat some in the morning. I know one wife who puts it in the morning coffee. (odd but not awful)

    It is normal to liquefy at warm room or body temperature. CO is a good massage oil that absorbs well also. Useful if drugstores aren’t around to sell you body lotion and Chap Stick.

    It may be preferable to storing more perishable food oils. I keep olive and canola as well, not liking coconut-everything 24/7.

    A bizarre use: ayurvedic medicine uses food oils as dental mouth rinses. Swish around a tablespoon or so of oil for 20 min – half hour. Spit into toilet, not a drain, due to bacteria and fat soluble toxins loosened from gums and teeth. MAY cause nausea at first. This is a detoxing effect. My Vietnamese friend healed gum disease with this, based on her mother’s advice. The kind of oil used is depending on your skin color, she says: Indians and Africans should use sesame or palm oil, lighter people use olive or coconut.

    May be a good trick if you need a dentist after the SHTF, and care is rationed/absent.


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