Spelt & Chia Hot Cross Buns (vegan, wheat free & refined sugar free)

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So it’s 5pm on Easter Sunday which means two things: a) I’m in a slow cooked lamb/scalloped potato/cheesecake/rocky road/chocolate tart-induced coma and literally typing this post through one half-opened eye; and b) it’s definitely a tad late to be posting a hot cross bun recipe. That said, ‘a tad late’ is how I go about life in general, and this recipe is too good to wait until next April to post. Besides, who doesn’t love a fresh-outta-the-oven hot cross bun at any time of year? If it’s acceptable nowadays to eat HCB’s in the three months leading up to Easter, it should be acceptable to enjoy them for a few (or many) months after Easter, too.

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Spelt flour has become my best baking friend over the past few years. I try not to eat too much gluten in general, but when I do it’s usually in the form of spelt or oats. Spelt is technically a sub-species of wheat and thus is not suitable for those with coeliac or severe gluten sensitivities, but it’s significantly lower in gluten than normal wheat so most people who are sensitive to wheat find that they can digest spelt better without feeling heavy and bloated. It’s also high in vitamins and minerals and has a nutty flavour that I just love. The lower level of gluten (and thus protein) in spelt means less elasticity, so baked goods turn out more dense and textural, as opposed to light and fluffy with normal wheat. Being the born carb fiend that I am, I find dense, bready textures more satisfying than fluffy textures, so this suits me perfectly. Gimme something to sink my teeth into!

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These hot X babies do contain a little more sugar (coconut sugar & dried fruit) than my usual recipes, but I really wanted them to taste and feel as close to the real thing as possible. They’ve got just the right balance of sugar and spice and they’ll fill your home with the most beautiful aroma. The smell of bread baking in the oven is magic on its own – add notes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and orange, and you’re on a whole new level of heaven.

I think the key to getting these buns right is ensuring that the dough gets its full 2 hours of rising time in a warm, draught-free area. I don’t really know whether the rising time or the warm environment is more crucial, but the two together resulted in a far better bun texture than the first time I attempted this recipe when  I only gave the dough 1 1/2 hours to rise in a cool kitchen.

Spelt & Chia Hot Cross Buns 

Makes 9 buns.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 7g instant dried yeast
  • 2 tsp dried ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • Zest of 1 orange (or 1/2 if you don’t want the orange to be pronounced)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I use Pureharvest Cocoquench coconut-rice milk)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbs pure maple syrup, to glaze
  • 40g dark chocolate of choice, for the crosses

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Line a small square cake tin (20cm x 20cm) with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir the milk and coconut sugar over medium-low heat until the milk is warm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and coconut oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, chia seeds, yeast and dried spices. Wake a well and pour in the milk mixture. Mix with a spoon until just combined, then add in the dried fruit, zest and salt. Use your hands to combine fully and form into a dough with the dried fruit and zest dispersed throughout.
  4. Lightly flour a clean bench space or a kneading mat with a little spelt flour. Knead the dough for 7 minutes.
  5. Oil the original mixing bowl with a little coconut oil, place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap (to trap heat in). Place a tea towel over the bowl (to keep light out). Leave in a warm, draught free space for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size (it’s imperative that the dough doubles, and I strongly recommend leaving it for the full 2 hours regardless). My house was quite cool when I was making these, so I found that the best place to leave the bowl was on a stool right in front of the heated oven.
  6. After the dough has risen, knead for another 3 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal portions and roll into rough balls. Place the buns into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Brush the buns with pure maple syrup to glaze. Allow the buns to cool before piping crosses with melted dark choc (see notes).
  8. Serve the only way you ever should: toasted, warm, smothered with organic salted butter (or almond butter) and with your favourite cuppa. Bliss. (Please note that you may want to remove the chocolate cross before toasting the buns!)
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  • If you’re highly sensitive to fructose, adjust the amount of dried fruit to suit you tolerance levels.  You could try omitting the currants and raisins using 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or leave the fruit out altogether if necessary.
  • I used normal organic dairy dark choc for the crosses because I knew it would set and photograph better, but otherwise I’d use vegan dark choc.
  • Make a fuss-free piping bag by spooning the melted choc into a snap-lock bag and snip the corner.Healthy Spelt and chia hot cross bunsimageimage

Vanilla Bean, Berry & Chia Overnight Oats

Vanilla Bean, Berry & Chia Overnight Oats

Ahhhhhh, overnight oats.

That gorgeous, glutinous texture only porridge can offer, but cold…

Overnight oats are to Summer what porridge is to Winter. During the warmer months, this is is my ultimate weekday go-to breakie because it’s super quick and can be whipped up the night before so it’s ready to go as soon as I wake up. I also love it because the  combinations are endless and the recipe can be tweaked according whatever flavours are tickling my pickle at the time. Depending on what add-ins you use, overnight oats make a nutritionally perfect breakfast because they’re packed with fibre, complex carbs and they’re low G.I, providing you with sustained energy throughout the day. The high fibre content helps to make you feel fuller for longer, keeping cravings and hunger pangs at bay throughout the morning.

On this particular day, I woke up with vanilla, berries and something creamy on my mind. I made this the weekend before I was diagnosed with Fructose malabsorption, so it’s not as fructose-friendly as the variations I’ve been making since (refer to asterisks for fructose-friendly substitutions), but delicious and satisfying nonetheless.

Vanilla Bean, Berry & Chia Overnight Oats

Ingredients
1/2 cup organic rolled oats
2 tsp chia seeds*
1 tbs unsweetened coconut chips* (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
1 tbs pure Stevia*
1/2 – 2/3 cup milk of choice** (oat, almond, rice, quinoa or cow’s)
1/2 cup organic yoghurt*** (I use full-fat)
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup fresh strawberries, sliced.

Method

  1. Combine all dry ingredients well, then add all other ingredients except the berries. Mix well.
  2. Gently fold through berries, careful not to split the raspberries too much. The mixture should be very runny but don’t be alarmed – those oats and seeds will soak it all up overnight! Cover and refrigerate overnight or a few days in advance.
  3. Once ready to eat, you may wish to stir through extra milk or water until a desired consistency is reached. If the mixture is still too runny, use less milk next time.
  4. Top overnight oats with extra coconut chips, almond butter, berries and muesli or crunchy granola (be careful when opting for store-bought granolas and mueslis and don’t be fooled by healthy marketing terms such as ‘gluten free’, ‘organic’ and ‘low fat’. Check ingredients lists – most have stacks of added sugar and dried fruit. Yes, even the ‘organic’ ones. I use Food For Health’s Fruit Free Clusters). Enjoy!

* For a strictly fructan-friendly version, omit the coconut chips, Stevia unless it’s organic and pure and limit the chia seeds to 1 tsp. If you need a little added sweetness and flavour, opt for a little pure organic maple syrup instead. I just add more cinnamon and berries.
** The amount of milk you use will depend on your preferred consistency.
*** For a lactose free/vegan version, omit the yoghurt and use water or increase the amount of chosen milk. You could also add mashed banana, but add it just before eating otherwise it will brown.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax