Not Cross Buns

As Easter is one of those times of year when it is OK to bake bread filled with butter, sugar, fruit, and more butter, I decided to have a go at some hot cross buns. I’ve made them before, with varying degrees of success, so this time I decided to change up the recipe and use spelt flour. This in no way compensates for the amount of butter, so I won’t pretend that they are a ‘healthy’ option, but spelt does have a different flavour to regular wheat.

Unfortunately, a number of things went wrong. The buns did not rise as much as I would have hoped, resulting in fairly dense buns. I have had this problem in the past and can think of a few reasons why it might happen. For example, some of the additions to the dough, such as sugar and fat, can actually inhibit the yeast. Add to that the fact that spelt naturally tends to result in a denser loaf, and I should have probably have factored the dense-issue in before hand.

The second problem is more aesthetic. I used white spelt for the crosses and wholemeal for the buns, which looked fine until it went into the oven. The white spelt coloured almost as much as the brown, and the crosses disappeared. These not cross buns tasted fine – the butter, fruit, and sugar made sure of that – but I’ll have another crack before posting a recipe.

The crosses disappeared into the dough, making them slightly less Eastery than I would have liked
The crosses disappeared into the dough, making them slightly less Eastery than I would have liked

Chapatis on the barbecue

With the temperature up to 40°C and set to stay up, baking isn’t really an option; I don’t think that our kitchen would survive the combination of the Australian sun and the excess heat leaked out of our badly sealed oven. So, instead, I decided to make an Indian flatbread outside on the hot plate of the BBQ.

Preparing the chapatis, made from spelt and plain flour

Unleavened flatbreads – that is, breads with no wild or commercial yeast to make them rise – are ideal for hot weather like this because there is no chance of them over fermenting or ‘over proofing’. In fact, for a flat bread, the more heat the better when cooking. In a chapati, it is the searing heat of the oven, tava, or in this case the BBQ plate that causes the bread to rise: air trapped inside the dough whilst kneading puffs up and lightens the bread.

Crank that barbecue up to maximum – the more heat the better.

Chapatis makes 8

  • 100g plain white flour
  • 100g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 140g lukewarm water
  • ghee or butter
  1. Sift together the flours and salt onto a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  2. Using your fingers, gradually add the water to the centre and work in the flour. Continue until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Rest in an oiled bowl for 30 minutes. Preheat barbecue to max, with the lid down if available.
  5. Divide the dough into eight portions and roll each into a rough ball.
  6. On a well floured surface roll each ball into a disc around 15cm in diameter with a floured rolling pin. Transfer to a floured plate and dust with additional flour. Repeat with the rest, stacking up on the plate. Avoid getting the dough too warm at this point as the chapatis will stick together.
  7. Grease the hot plate of the barbecue with a little butter or ghee. Shake or toss the chapatis from hand to hand to remove excess flour, then place on the barbecue.
  8. Depending on the heat of your barbecue, cook on each side for 15 seconds to 1 minute, until puffed up and beginning to char.
  9. Brush each finished chapati with a little ghee or butter and place under a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough. Serve with a wet curry or dhal.
Chapatis cooking on the BBQ hot plate
The finished chapatis, ready for a curry