The Big Flour and Yeast Shortage: Try Nammoura
One of the annoying aspects of "sheltering," "quarantining," "cocooning," or whatever you'd like to call it, is the great shortage, no, not of toilet paper (yes, I understand that is a problem), but of flour and yeast. So much for stress baking! Apparently manufacturers weren't ready for the increase in demand that began in March, and they can't instantly ramp up production. So, unless you've been stockpiling yeast and flour, you'll have to come up with some other options to make bread, cakes, and other baked goods (not to mention thickening gravies...). A sourdough starter is one great solution for the absence of commercial yeast (see the recipes on this blog for sourdough starters and treats), and you can opt for quick breads that get their rising power from baking soda and baking powder. Nonetheless, you do need flour, generally. Many of the news articles suggest that, instead of all-purpose flour, you can explore the wonders of self-rising flour, cake flour, gluten-free flour, etc.. Unfortunately, I haven't found much of those on the shelves, either.
So, I've opted to explore alternative flours. No, I'm not talking about the ten dollar a bag stuff on the shelves (maybe) at the froufrou grocery stores. I'm focusing on the old types of flours that have been around for hundreds of years and routinely used in other parts of the world. Many of those flours are available in ethnic markets, and often they're reasonably priced. One of the flours I've been investigating this week is barley flour. A two-pound bag cost me about two dollars, so it's more expensive than all-purpose flour, but not excessively so. The barley flour also is richer in nutrients and fiber than all-purpose flour. I've just begun my baking with it, but I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I'm offering you another option: semolina flour. Look for semolina in the international aisle of the grocery store. The recipe below--Nammoura--is a favorite. Simple, sweet, and perfect for "stress baking" and eating. Enjoy!
Nammoura -- Makes a 9 x 13-inch Pan
1 1/2 cups of semolina flour
1 cup of plain, fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of canola oil
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of butter flavoring
1 2/3 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
2 tablespoons of rose water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 13 x 9-inch pan with parchment paper or coat the pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the semolina flour and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the melted butter, canola oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and butter flavoring and whisk them well. Stir in the dry ingredients and coconut, if you're using it, until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly. Space almonds in 6 rows, a couple of inches apart (or you can mark the batter with a knife and space the almonds in the squares you mark). Bake the Nammoura for about 30 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly browned. While the Nammoura cooks, make the syrup. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and rose water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it frequently. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, stirring it periodically, until it's thick, syrupy, and reduced in volume by about one-half. As soon as you pull the hot cake from the oven, pour the hot syrup evenly over the top of the cake. Score the Nammoura into squares and then let it cool completely. Re-cut the squares before serving the Nammoura.