Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat pastry flour. It will give you a heavier and more dense product. Whole wheat flour is usually ground hard wheat that is high in gluten and best for baking bread. Whole wheat pastry flour is a much finer grind and is made from a soft wheat low in gluten. It is best for sweets like cakes, muffins, and cookies. Whole wheat pastry flour is available at Whole Foods and can easily be purchased online (King Arthur Flour has it). If you use my recipes regularly it’s worth the effort to find whole wheat pastry flour so you can add whole grains to your homemade baking.
Don’t have buttermilk? You cannot substitute milk for buttermilk. There is no perfect substitute for buttermilk, especially in baking. Due to its acidic nature, buttermilk makes baked goods lighter and fluffier so it’s worth using the real thing. My preferred method is to combine yogurt with milk, using 1/2 yogurt (2% low fat Greek yogurt) and 1/2 milk (1% or 2% low fat milk). A common solution in baking is to add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of milk (any kind but not fat-free) and let it stand for 5 minutes to mimic buttermilk. For the best results, try to use real low fat buttermilk if you can, but not fat-free. You can freeze unused buttermilk in portions the size you will need for future recipes. It will separate when frozen but when you thaw it, just stir it back up.
Don’t have bread flour? You can use all purpose flour. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour and that helps with gluten development, which is helpful when working with yeast. With bread flour pizzas may be a little crispier and breads may be a little chewier and have more body but it’s not a huge difference.
Don’t have instant yeast? Regular active yeast can be used wherever I use instant yeast. But be sure to check the package directions for the required temperature of the liquid. My brand of instant yeast calls for 120 degrees F while my regular active yeast calls for 110 degrees F.
Don’t have 1% milk or low fat milk? Use a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part whole milk. For example, to make the equivalent of one cup of 1% milk: combine 3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup whole milk. (For 2% milk the mixture should be 50/50, i.e. half water and half whole milk)
Don’t have baking soda? Do not use baking powder instead. Baking powder is not a substitute for baking soda. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients in a recipe to make baked goods rise.
Don’t have extra light olive oil? For baking you can use canola, safflower, or any vegetable oil.
Don’t have a dutch oven? I have only used an enameled cast iron dutch oven but I have researched online and other people claim to have success using: a glass pyrex dish with a lid, a stainless steel pot with a lid, a clay baker, and a pizza stone with a stainless steel bowl as a cover. You can also look through the recipe comments for other ideas. Keep in mind that any lid must be tight fitting and have an oven-proof handle (not plastic). Your pot will need to hold at least 3 quarts but 5 to 6 quarts is most common.
Don’t want to use eggs? I’m sorry to say I don’t know of any good substitute for eggs. For anyone with egg allergies, rather than change a recipe and risk being disappointed, you can find many eggless recipes the are already proven online. If cholesterol is a concern, all my research has shown that egg yolks may contain cholesterol but they are low in saturated fat and they do not raise serum cholesterol in the blood. Eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and folate. Besides providing protein, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and vitamin E, eggs are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.