Baking is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it can also be challenging and frustrating at times. You might find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the right ingredients or tools for your recipe, and you don’t want to waste time and money running to the store. Luckily, there are some clever baking hacks that can help you overcome these obstacles and make delicious treats with what you have at home. Here are seven of them:
1. Make your own yeast with dried fruit, water, and flour
Yeast is an essential ingredient for making bread, but it can be hard to find or expensive to buy. If you don’t have yeast, you can make your own at home with dried fruit, water, and flour. Dried fruit contains natural yeast that can be activated by soaking it in water. Then, you can mix it with flour and let it ferment for a few days until it becomes bubbly and frothy. This homemade yeast can be used to make bread, pizza dough, and other baked goods. A biologist, who goes by shoelaces3 on Twitter, gives helpful how-to instructions, or you can watch some YouTube tutorials.
2. Make your own buttermilk, or use yogurt as a replacement
Buttermilk is a tangy and creamy liquid that adds moisture and flavor to cakes, biscuits, pancakes, and more. But if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by combining regular milk with lemon juice or vinegar. The acid in the lemon juice or vinegar will curdle the milk and create a buttermilk-like consistency.
Another option is to use yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk. Yogurt has a similar taste and texture to buttermilk, and it can also provide some probiotics and protein to your baked goods. You can use plain or Greek yogurt, depending on your preference.
3. Use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream
Sour cream is a common ingredient in many baked goods, such as cheesecakes, muffins, and brownies. It adds richness, moisture, and tanginess to your desserts. But if you don’t have sour cream, you can use Greek yogurt instead. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, and it has a similar sour flavor to sour cream. It can also be healthier, as it has less fat and more protein than sour cream.
4. Ripen bananas quickly by baking them
Bananas are a great ingredient for making bread, muffins, cookies, and more. They add natural sweetness, moisture, and fiber to your baked goods. But sometimes, you might have a craving for banana bread before your bananas are ripe enough. Unripe bananas are hard, green, and starchy, and they won’t give you the same flavor and texture as ripe bananas.
Fortunately, you can ripen bananas quickly by baking them in the oven. All you need to do is place the unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes. The heat will soften the bananas and release their sugars, making them perfect for baking.
5. Use applesauce as a substitute for oil
Oil is a common ingredient in many baked goods, such as cakes, muffins, and brownies. It helps to keep them moist, tender, and fluffy. But oil can also add a lot of calories and fat to your desserts, and you might not always have it in your pantry. If you run out of oil, or you want to make your baked goods healthier, you can use applesauce as a substitute. Applesauce is a puree of cooked apples, and it has a mild and sweet flavor that works well with many recipes. It also adds moisture and fiber to your baked goods, and it has fewer calories and fat than oil. You can use applesauce as a one-to-one substitute for oil, and you don’t need to change the ratio in your recipes. However, it might change the texture of your baked goods a bit, so it might be best to make a small portion of your desired sweet with the sauce before you fully commit to it.
6. Use a wine bottle as a rolling pin
A rolling pin is a handy tool for flattening dough for pies, cookies, pizza, and more. But if you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a wine bottle instead. A wine bottle has a similar shape and size to a rolling pin, and it can help you achieve a smooth and even dough. Just make sure to wash and dry the bottle before using it, and to flour the surface of the dough and the bottle to prevent sticking. Place flat hands on top of the bottle, and push it back and forth over the dough until you reach the desired thickness.
7. Make bread without yeast
If you want to make bread, but you don’t have yeast or dried fruit to make your own, you can still make some delicious loaves without it. There are many yeast-free bread recipes that use baking soda, baking powder, or eggs as leavening agents. These ingredients help the bread rise and create air bubbles in the dough. You can find recipes for yeast-free bread, dinner rolls, soda bread, and more online.
Another option is to make sourdough bread, which doesn’t use yeast, but a sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that is left to ferment for several days. It contains natural yeast and bacteria that give sourdough bread its distinctive flavor and texture. You can make your own sourdough starter at home, or you can buy one from a bakery or online.