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Yeast or no yeast, fresh-baked carbs are the comfort food we all need right now.

By Betty Gold
Updated April 09, 2020
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Along with a temporary shortage of all-purpose flour, eggs, and other important ingredients that go in baked goods, you’ll notice it’s hard to find yeast at the grocery store. It seems that a big part of sheltering in place involves back-to-basics comfort food baking, and homemade bread tops the list. While experienced bread bakers might turn to sourdough starters when they can’t find yeast, we wanted to find a way to get our homemade bread fix without that much work. We turned to Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of Half the Sugar, All the Love: 100 Easy, Low Sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, for her recommendations on easy substitutes for making bread when you can’t find yeast.

Bake Beer Bread—and DIY Self-Rising Flour.

“There are a few alternatives for feeding our desire for homemade bread even when we don’t have yeast on hand,” says Tyler Lee. “Beer bread is one of the easiest types of bread you can make. It only requires a few basic ingredients and it doesn’t use yeast.” Many beer bread recipes call for self-rising flour—if you don’t have that ingredient on hand, you can make your own from scratch by adding 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt to each cup of pastry flour called for in a recipe. Try using pastry flour if it’s available (it has a lower protein content), but all-purpose flour will work, too. Gluten-free blended flours will work here as well. “Beer bread has a flavor akin to sourdough, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Its crumb is moist but more crumbly than your typical chewy, traditional homemade yeast-based loaf.”

Choose Quick Breads Instead.

When a door closes a window opens, and that’s especially relevant in our current situation. “Quick breads, like banana bread, zucchini bread, and cornbread are delicious and easy alternatives to yeast-based bread and can satisfy cravings in a pinch,” says Tyler Lee. Her recipe for banana bread gets its sweetness from dates, and her zucchini bread incorporates pineapple for a delicious twist with less added sugar. Both are easy and healthy takes on classic quick bread staples. “This situation is giving us the opportunity to reimagine things. Although banana bread will never be a substitute for sandwich bread, it can be used to make variations on recipes like French toast. Instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, I’m trying to focus on the joy of inviting new recipes and new traditions to our table,” says Tyler Lee.

Try a No-Yeast Bread Recipe.

No-yeast breads are another option. “Bread recipes that don’t call for yeast are harder to find, but there are a few that can be used during this time to make bread without yeast,” advises Tyler Lee. The flavor and texture won’t be the same as your typical bakery loaf. The unusual aroma, more like cheese than bread, comes from the fermentation process that the ingredients go through. If you’ve made homemade yogurt, you’ll know what to expect. “This recipe is more of a craft project than a quick and easy bread making project,” she says. “It could also be a great science experiment for those cooking with kids.” Recipes like this definitely help fill a need when you can’t find yeast and you have an unexpectedly large amount of time on your hands while in quarantine. There’s always matzo, too.