Emergency No Yeast Bread
My emergency no yeast bread is variation on soda bread. It is much better as a standby, however, as it uses ordinary milk and baking powder rather than buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda. I much prefer this loaf to soda bread, as I find that soda bread can taste bitter.
This recipe was first published in 2011, and has been popular ever since. It has saved the day many times, through unexpected guests and when the store hasn’t any yeast. Here are some of the reasons why I think this is the best recipe you’ll ever find for those times when you are out of bread and need to bake in a hurry.
- You are more likely to have baking powder in your cupboards all the time than baking soda.
- Because baking powder is a quick-acting leavening agent, you don’t need time for the dough to rise before baking.
- The recipe doesn’t use strong bread flour, as there’s no need to knead the dough to develop the gluten.
- There are only four ingredients (flour, plain milk, baking powder and salt) and they are all everyday basics found in your fridge and store cupboard, which means you can easily make a fresh loaf whenever you need one. You can even substitute water and oil for the milk.
- It is really easy and straightforward to make this emergency no yeast bread. I recommend, however, that you read the whole post and watching the video to see how to handle the dough before you start to cook.
How to Make Emergency No Yeast Bread
Before you start, test your baking powder to make sure it still good. If it is stale, the bread simply won’t rise.
How to test your baking powder is fresh
Put a teaspoon in a small pot and pour over boiling water. The baking powder should bubble and fizz vigorously. If it doesn’t, throw the baking powder away and buy fresh.
If the powder is past its best before date, it may still be good, so don’t throw it away without checking. The one shown in the photo is two years past the ‘best before’ and fizzing away just fine.
Step 1 – Gather your ingredients. Heat the oven to 190°C Fan (210°C regular) / 375°F /Gas Mark 6. Put a baking sheet or stone in the oven to heat.
Step 2 – Mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) in a large bowl.
Step 3 – Add the milk, and mix the ingredients until they come together into dough. It’s easiest to do this with your hands rather than a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto your work surface, and give it a very quick knead to make sure the milk is evenly distributed. It doesn’t need a lot of work.
Step 4 – Form into a flat loaf – no more than about 1½”/3 cm thick. Important! Your no yeast bread mustn’t be too thick; otherwise, it won’t rise or bake through properly. Then score the top in a deep cross (or make three or four parallel score lines if you prefer).
The photo shows the dough before it goes in the oven. As you can see, it’s formed into a round pancake, about 1½” (3 cm) thick, and deeply scored with a cross across the top.
Step 5 – Put the loaf on the baking sheet or stone. Then place in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes. The bread will still be quite pale once cooked. Don’t expect, or wait for it to be golden brown.
Step 6 – Check the bread is cooked by flipping it off the baking sheet and giving it a tap. If it is done, it will sound hollow.
Can I Make a Vegan No Yeast Loaf?
Absolutely yes! Use your favourite soy or nut milk, and add one tablespoon of lemon juice just before mixing the dough. Alternatively, you can use water and oil (see I’m Out of Milk below).
Can I Make Emergency No Yeast Bread with Gluten Free Flour?
This recipe doesn’t work with gluten free wheat flour, so I’m afraid not. Sorry! We are working on it though, so watch this space!
I’m Out of Milk! What Can I Do?
You have three alternatives:
- You can use a 50:50 mixture of yogurt and water instead. Mix the two well together before adding to the flour.
- You can use powdered milk. Stir the milk powder into the flour with the baking powder and salt. Then add the water and stir to form the dough, and continue with the rest of the instructions.
- If you don’t have milk, yogurt, or milk powder you can make this bread with water and half a tablespoon of vegetable oil (or a knob of melted butter, margarine or baking spread instead of the oil). The milk makes it fluffier, lighter and softer, but at a pinch water and oil will do, and will result in a vegan loaf.
Can I Freeze Emergency No Yeast Bread?
Yes, this no yeast bread freezes well. I like to slice it, wrap in a plastic bag, freeze, then toast from frozen.
Can I make Emergency No Yeast Bread using cup measures?
Yes! But never mix cups and metric measurements. I have included conversions in the recipe below, but please check using your favourite trusted conversion tool.
Having said that, I recommend buying kitchen scales. They are inexpensive and will result in far better baking as they are so much more accurate than using cups. Once you get used to them, weighing ingredients will become second nature.
Troubleshooting – Mistakes to Avoid
This no yeast bread recipe really works. We and many other people have made this loaf successfully many many times. Here are some of the problems that can arise and how to make sure you avoid them.
- The baking powder is stale – test it before you start and open a new packet if necessary.
- The wrong flour – you need to use everyday plain / all purpose flour. You do not want bread, strong, gluten free or wholegrain flour.
- The measurements are wrong – I always weigh my ingredients, cup conversions are not always accurate. Watch the video before you start to get a sense of the right consistency. If the dough is too dry, add more liquid. If the dough is too wet, add more flour.
- The dough is over handled – it needs a light touch and gentle shaping.
- The dough is too thick and hasn’t been scored. Those score marks are not just for decoration. The bread will not rise and it will not cook in the middle.
- The oven is at the wrong temperature. Too hot and the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. Too cool and the bread won’t rise. Most oven thermostats are inaccurate and will be consistently too hot or too cold. If you plan on baking more than once a month, buy an oven thermometer and adjust the thermostat to reflect the real temperature.
Because the loaf doesn’t have much time to rise, it will never have a particularly light texture. This no yeast bread recipe will always result in a hearty, rustic loaf that’s at its best fresh from the oven and dripping with butter.
Serve your bread hot from the oven or freshly toasted. We like to eat it with soup, spread with homemade cherry jam, for Coronation Chicken sandwiches or to mop up the juices of wetter dishes like Bean chilli or Homemade curry when you can’t be fussed to make pilau rice.
Emergency No Yeast Bread
- 500 g (4 cups) plain flour (regular cake or all purpose flour not bread or wholewheat / wholegrain)
- 2 tsp (2 tsp) baking powder
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) salt
- 310 ml (1 1/3 cups) milk (or water with a spoon of oil or melted butter)
- Test the baking powder is still good by putting a teaspoon in a small dish and pouring boiling water over. It should immediately bubble and fizz vigorously.
- Heat the oven to 190°C Fan (210°C regular) / 375°F / GM 6. Place a baking stone or heavy baking sheet in the oven to heat.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk, and stir the ingredients until the milk is mixed with with flour and forms a dough. It's easiest to do this with your hands rather than a wooden spoon.
- Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead briefly until the dough has a uniform consistency.
- Shape the dough into a round disc, about an inch to an inch and a half (about 3 cm) thick. Score the top deeply with an X. This is important! Don't make a round ball of dough as it won't cook in the middle.
- Bake on the hot stone or baking sheet for about 35 minutes until pale brown. (This loaf won't turn a deep gold so don't wait too long to check it.) When ready, it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Important! We cannot stress enough that the dough needs to be a flat pancake - not more than 1.5" (3 cm) deep when it goes into the oven, or it will not cook properly in the middle.
- If you don't have milk you can make some up with powdered milk, mix up yogurt and water, or use water with a spoon of oil or melted butter or spread.
- Delicious served freshly baked for breakfast with our homemade Seville Orange Marmalade
This recipe was originally posted in March 2011, and updated in November 2017. Here’s the rather rustic loaf from our original post.