Now seriously, time for a bit of history boys and girls. Chelsea buns were first created in the early 18th century by the Bun House in, you guessed it, Chelsea! Hard to see where they got their name, huh? They were a huge hit at the time, and were reputedly a favourite treat of the royal family, no less. Today, the roly-poly buns are enjoyed by pretty much everyone aside from bonkers Mr BrightSpring who refuses to eat them thanks to an alarming dislike of currants. Oh well, all the more for me…
A Chelsea Bun is made from yeast dough rolled out flat and filled with currants before being rolled up swiss-roll style and cut into circles to make spiraled buns. The classic square shape that you’re probably used to seeing is from the buns being placed closely together prior to baking so that as they rise and expand xthey push into each other, forming a solid tray of bun to be torn apart and shared.
The majority of the sweetness of a Chelsea bun comes from the glaze, which traditionally is made from cold water and sugar. This is brushed liberally over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven so that the water is evaporated by the heat of the buns, leaving a sweet sticky glaze. You can do this or, in our recipe, we use heated milk and sugar to add a bit of extra rich creaminess to the glaze.
Another slight deviation from the traditional in our recipe is the addition of cinnamon. Back in the olden days, them old-time times of yore, in Ye Olde England, er, sorry… Got distracted there! Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, originally Chelsea Buns would not have cinnamon in them, but it’s a pretty common addition these days and I think it takes the bun from pretty flipping good to absolutely flipping amazing! Give them a try and see for yourself.
Chelsea Buns – Ingredients (Makes 10)
For the buns
- 500g/1lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp salt
- 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fact-action dried yeast
- 300ml/10fl oz milk
- 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 free-range egg
- vegetable oil, for greasing
For the filling
- 25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
- 75g/3oz soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 150g/5oz dried mixed fruit
For the glaze
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
Chelsea Buns – Method
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl, and the salt yeast, and mix together. Try not to let the salt and yeast come into contact, as this can kill the yeast.
- Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually add the milk mixture, combining to form a sticky dough. Once fully combined, the dough should come away from the sides of the bowl in one lump. If this is not happening, you may need to add a little extra flour.
- Tip the dough onto a BrightSpring silicone baking mat and knead for five minutes or so until the dough is smooth and elastic. There is no need to flour the baking mat, but you may wish to lightly flour your hands. Lightly oil a bowl with a little of the vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn until it is covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Knock the dough back to its original size and turn back out onto your silicone mat. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 0.5cm/¼in thick. Brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the brown sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit.
- Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder and roll off the baking mat onto a lightly floured surface that is safe for knive. Cut ten 4cm/1½in slices and place them rolled end up onto a clean BrightSpring silicone baking sheet, leaving only a little space between each slice. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- Bake the buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
- Meanwhile, for the glaze, heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.