Sunday, 31 January 2016

How to make bread without bread flour

Now You Know how to make bread without any bread flour!

I got through January spending less than £30 on groceries for the household but ran out of bread and bread flour. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so let's get inventive.

How to make pancakes
Running out of bread and bread flour is normally unheard of in this household but it can happen to the best of us, especially when trying to empty cupboards and stick to a grocery challenge budget of £1 per person per day, so I spent less than half my allocated budget just cooking from what is already here.
As long as you have ordinary flour, eggs and milk then you can make pancakes.
If you have just the flour and milk, you can make flour tortillas.
Better still, as long as you have yeast and good old-fashioned, all purpose, plain flour then you can make your own budget bread.

 Buy cheap groceries online
Brown Bread and Roll Mix only £1 for 3.5kg*

Here's how to make bread without bread flour

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (approx.)
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cups plain flour
I added a scoop of wheatgerm to mine, so it needed another spoonful of water, then made the loaf in my breadmaker. You do not need a breadmaking machine, this recipe will work equally well by hand in the usual way - knead the dough well for 5 minutes, rest/prove for an hour, knead for another 5 minutes, rest/prove for another hour, then shape and bake as normal, either in a lightly greased loaf tin or on a tray.

Making bread without bread flour
I was quite sceptical about whether or not this loaf would rise, as I have never learned the actual differences between each of the various flour types other than the obvious differences between grain types like wheat and corn but as you can see, the loaf rose as it normally would had I been using proper bread flour.

Freshly baked bread made without strong flour
The load was baked as normal white bread on the 1.5lb setting and this did it perfectly. The loaf turned out the tin without a problem and sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom. It got wrapped in a clean, cotton tea towel until it cooled enough to slice. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the first time I have baked bread with plain flour, as I do tend to dilute bread flour with plain flour to save money when handbaking or if the bread mixes aren't available on offer, but this was the first time I had tried baking a full loaf in the breadmaker without having any strong bread flour in the recipe.

Slice of freshly baked bread
Once cooled, the load sliced as any other bread would slice - so we had to sample it with some homemade blackcurrant and bramble jam. It tasted delicious!

From now on, I will not be paying extra for strong bread flour - I'll sit back and wait for the bargains to appear and, in the meantime, keep a better stock of cheap, all purpose plain flour, which currently costs 45p per 1.5kg bag from most big supermarkets. I have, however, managed to order 3 x 3.5kg of cheap bread and roll mix from Approved Food to replenish stock and I'll add on an extra couple of bags of plain flour next time I get the chance of it. I'm guessing that I'll can dilute the bread mix in similar fashion as long as I add an extra sprinkle of dried yeast.

You can add herbs, spices, garlic, sultanas, seeds, grains, nuts or whatever else takes your fancy - play about with it to find what you like best and don't forget to share your results and photos with fellow followers of frugal living in Frugaldom's forums.

* My affiliated link


  1. Strong flour has a higher gluten content than plain flour which is a soft flour. letting it rise is a way for the gluten to develop into long strands which supports the loaf when baked. using softer flour requires longer proving times which is what you allowed therefore a good loaf resulted. strong flour requires shorter rising times. This is what we have found in "our" ie DH's experiments and using strong flour he only gives one proving then shapes and bakes after a short rising. hope this makes sense

    1. Thank you for explaining it - so the only difference is in reduced gluten content? I didn't give it extra rise time, this was baked as a standard loaf in the breadmaker. Taste and texture wise, I couldn't tell any difference at all, hence my wondering why flour sold specifically for bread making costs twice the price.

  2. Strange, in Sweden we always makes bread like this. What is breadflour?


    1. We can buy several types of flour specially for bread making, such as strong white, brown and wholemeal. They all cost more than plain flour, in some cases two or three times the price. I will no longer buy strong, as it seems unnecessary. Thank you for posting a comment. I did not know Swedes made bread this way all the time. :)

    2. We don´t have strong flour yet, as I know, and it seems since a natural is to prefer healthwise. Our bodies knows how to handle natural foods, but that is not always a fact when they are manipulated. So keep on using natural foods :-) They are as you said, often cheaper then the bad foods as well. In Sweden people are starting getting more unhealthy/overwight as a result of more frequent eating processed foods. Every country that introduce more processed foods in their daily life are getting more healthproblems. Thank you for a nice blog :-)

  3. We used to do that if we ran out of bread flour. We occasionally found, in warm weather, that it didn't stayfresh as long, but still tasted the same freshly made.

    1. I will see how this one lasts. The bread here is mainly for eating with soup, so I may slice and freeze half of it, find out how that works. Thank you for the tip. :)

  4. I've been making bread with plain flour for a couple of years now, but recently my bread hasn't been as good as it once was. Within the last couple of weeks I've reverted to using bread flour and my bread is really good again. I'm not sure why the plain flour didn't work as well as it once did, but the extra 23p I spent on a bag of bread flour was definitely worth it to have decent homemade bread again!

    1. Thanks for that, Scarlet. My grocery challenge is budget based, so the extra cost makes it cheaper for me to buy supermarket saver loaves than to bake them - where do you get 1.5kg bags of bread flour for 68p? The cheapest I can find it is 95p for supermarket saver type.

  5. I haven't used ordinary flour for yeast bread so I'm interested to see what you have done. I usually get bread flour from Lidl where it is about the price Scarlet said (can't remember exact price). If I run out of bread flour in winter I usually make soda farls cooked on the woodburner.

    1. I have several bags of wheatgerm that I use in baking, so perhaps that helped things along but I certainly cannot tell the difference between this and my normal white bread made from bread flour or bread mix. I base everything like this on financial benefits, so being 20+ miles from nearest main supermarket means factoring in travel, but Asda continued their rural delivery service, so I base best offers for me on their prices. Mind you, they can't beat £1 for 3.5kg of brown bread mix - just add water. :)


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