Can you use ordinary flour to make bread?

And other ‘I don’t have that in my cupboard’ bread-making problems solved

Most bread is made from a base of just four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast and water. The only ingredients out of that lot you’re likely to run short of are flour and yeast – but don’t panic if you have! While most home-made bread recipes, whether you’re making a loaf by hand or in a bread maker, call for strong bread flour of one kind or another, there’s a whole range of different flours, replacements and bread swaps out there that mean you can still make a tasty loaf. So even if you only have the ‘wrong’ kind of flour in your cupboards, or you’ve no yeast left, you can still make bread – and you’ll find lots of ideas below to make the best of the ingredients you do have.

The best bread flour swaps

Can you use plain flour for bread?

If you’ve got plain flour in your cupboards, chances are it’s there to make pancakes, Yorkshire puddings and biscuits – yum! But there are some breads – like flatbreads and focaccia – that absolutely can be made with plain flour. Here are some of our favourite plain flour bread recipes:

Egg Flatbreads – these egg, Parma ham and rocket-topped rounds are perfect for ‘posh’ breakfasts and brunch.

Rosemary Flatbreads – tasty herby slices, simply delicious grilled and fit for any back garden alfresco feast.

Focaccia with Black Olives – makes a delicious side dish to most Italian dinners.

Olive Bread with Oregano – another Italian-inspired side serving.

Can you make bread with self-raising flour?

Again, there are certain types of bread you can make with self-raising flour, especially the more ‘cakey’ breads. If that sounds like your kind of thing, try our recipes for savoury Cheddar Cheese Mini Loaf Scones or deliciously decadent Rum-Soaked Raisin, Apricot & Cherry Scone Loaf (you can always leave out the tipple of rum if you’d prefer a less boozy bake). 

Another, more ‘bready’ bread you can make with self-raising flour is soda bread – here’s our recipe for Soda Bread Farls (they make for the best bacon butty!). 

What other kinds of flour can you use to make bread?

From gluten-free alternatives like polenta to more specialist grains like buckwheat and spelt, there are plenty of other substitutes to standard strong white bread flour out there. Even if you always skip over the ‘fancy’ flour section and go for your  favourites, they’re a great place to experiment with different flavours and textures, starting with this trio of taste bud-tempting recipes:

Chilli & Spring Onion Cornbread – a US-inspired, flavour-packed mix of warm chillies and fresh spring onions, made from polenta with just a dash of plain flour.

Gluten-Free Cheese & Garlic Tear & Share Bread – made with a mixture of buckwheat and teff flours, fresh herbs, Parmesan, Cheddar and garlic. And you could tear and share it, not eat it all yourself.

Fig & Walnut Bread – nutty, fruity, gorgeous, and made with spelt flour.

And… can you make bread without yeast?

Yes, you can. Yeast acts as a raising agent, so bread made without it will be either (a) flat or (b) rely on another raising agent (like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda) to make it rise. We’ve pulled together all our yeast-free recipes – and wish you many enjoyable hours of baking, caking and bread-making!

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