Friday, January 16, 2015

Bread Baking Babes Get Puffed Up

It's the 16th of the month, and reveal day for this month's Bread Baking Babes bread. Our kitchen of the month, the ever popular and witty Elizabeth of Blog From OUR Kitchen, has gathered us around the table to make Chapatis, that wonderful staple of Indian cuisine. I'd never made these before and got a thrill when the first one I cooked puffed up just like it was supposed to when I turned it over to cook the second side and held it over the gas flame. It didn't really get brown when it puffed, but the flame caught an edge, so there was a bit of burning. Dangerous stuff this Bread Baking Babes baking!

The results were delicious and the texture was awesome with firm outer surface and almost flaking interiors. Sweetie ate most of them before I noticed, but I did snag two. My plan had been to have some butternut squash biryani and chicken cooked with coconut milk, but my late morning eye exam was brutal and so I didn't have the energy to do anything more than make the chapatis. Glad that I did and I'll make them again soon and do the full meal.

One of the things that I discovered while mixing up the dough was that it takes a little while for the flour to be absorbed. Glad that I stopped adding the boiling water long before all of the flour had gotten wet. I kept stirring with the fork and gradually all of the dry flour found its way into the dough and it seemed to have that silly putty texture. The kneading was relaxing and there was no need to add very much flour to the board, although my hand did stick a few times.

Do try this easy and fun recipe yourself! Check out the experiences that the rest of our BBB crew had to get tips for creating this wonderful and fast hot bread.

Bake My Day - Karen, Blog From OUR Kitchen - Elizabeth, Bread Experience - Cathy, Girlichef - Heather, Life's A Feast - Jaime, Lucullian Delights - Ilva, My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna, My Kitchen in Half Cups - Tanna, Notitie van Lien - Lien, Thyme for Cooking - Katie (who does the round-up).

If you do make these, consider becoming a Bread Baking Babe Buddy by making the recipe by Jan. 29th and sending Elizabeth an e-mail with a photo and a description of your experience making chapatis. She'll do a round-up shortly after that.

Here are the wonderful directions and recipe that Elizabeth gave us. Have fun!

based on "Flat Wholewheat Bread - Roti" in A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

After struggling for months trying to make these, I now understand why all the recipes I looked at seemed to be so vague. Here is how we have finally managed to make pretty good rotis, using an electric stove and North American flour. I apologize in advance for any vagueness and urge you to keep trying even if your rotis don't turn out perfectly the first (second, third, fourth...) time(s). As Shehzad Husain says in Entertaining Indian Style:

Do not get disheartened [...] you will improve with practice.

  • stove
  • open wire rack (single burner open wire rack on feet that set the rack about an inch off the burner)
  • rolling pin
  • heavy carbon steel shallow frying pan (tava)
  • tongs
  • lidded pot
(We went to our local India town to get the tava and wire rack. They are not very expensive items. You can probably use a flat heavy griddle in place of the tava.)

Ingredients to make 8 rotis

  • 1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ c. whole wheat flour 
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • up to 1 c. just-boiled water

  1. In a bowl, mix flours and salt. Add hot water gradually, stirring with a fork until you have a soft dough. The amount of water will vary drastically depending on air temperature and humidity. You just have to play with it. You are aiming for dough that resembles silly putty.
  2. Using as little extra flour as possible, knead on a board or in the air for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and silky.
  3. Put the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or plate and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to one hour.
  4. Put the tava on medium heat. Do not oil it. Put the wire rack on another burner at the highest heat possible. (I used a cast iron skillet. The tava would be better, but it worked.)
  5. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Lightly flour each one and put 7 pieces back in the bowl. Cover the bowl. Form the piece of dough into a ball and flatten it. Roll it out into a round til it is quite thin but not too thin (this is again is one of those infuriating things where you will just have to practice to find out what thinness works best for you) - about 2 mm?? As you roll out the dough, make sure it is not sticking to the board and that there are no holes. Keep the rolling pin lightly dusted with as little flour as possible and the board the same way.
  6. Place the round of dough on the hot tava (griddle). As soon as you see little bubbles form, turn it over using tongs. As soon as there are little bubbles on the reverse side, lift the bread off the tava with the tongs and place it on the wire rack. It should puff up. Turn it over once or twice to ensure that it puffs up completely. Don't be worried to see a few dark brown spots on it. (If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove, you can hold the bread directly over the flame. - I did this and supported the other side with a spatula. Worked OK, but then I put the chapati back into the hot skillet to brown a few spots.)
  7. Put the finished bread into a pot and cover it with a lid. Keep it in a warm oven. Roll out the next piece of dough and repeat til you have 8 rotis. As you put a new roti on the stack, turn the finished rotis over to keep the bottom ones from getting wet. (I kept the finished rotis on a paper plate set on a heavy pot holder and covered it with an inverted paper plate. That seemed to work well and was easy because it was on the counter next to the stove, readu for the next rotis to be added.)


  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed this, Elle! Your chapatis look great! I'm so envious of the lovely dark spots you got. I can't believe you didn't achieve them with the actual flames.

    How lucky you are to have a gas stove.

    Mmmm, butternut squash.... I hope you'll get to have that soon. It would be perfect with chapatis!

  2. You're a wise woman waiting longer for the water to be absorbed... I'll do that too next time. very pretty chapatis with those brown spots.

  3. I love how thick your chapatis look! I'm happy that we had this challenge, too - but I really want to try them made in an Indian restaurant or something...just to compare.

  4. Your first one puffed too! Awesome. I was thrilled too.
    Your last photo is a beauty! Those do look perfect!

  5. They look delicious and very authentic. Love the toasted sections. Like how few ingredients they have

  6. They look perfectly cooked - glad you managed to eat some ;-))

  7. Your chapatis look great! I ate most of mine as a snack, but I did save a few to go with lentil soup. I'll definitely be making these again.