Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns

 

A traditional Chelsea bun is a currant bun which was first created in the 18th century in the Bun House in Chelsea, London (demolished in 1839). It had a rich yeast dough which was filled with currants, spices and brown sugar.

This version has a light rich yeast dough which is filled with mixed fruit tossed in brown sugar and spices. The top is glazed with honey and sprinkled with sugar. So good!

 

Chelsea Buns
Prepares: 8 buns
 
  • Preparation time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the dough
  • 450g (16 oz) strong plain white/all-purpose flour (4 cups less 3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 28g (1 oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 56g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 7g sachet quick-rise dried yeast (2 tsp)
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) warm milk (½ cup + ⅓ cup)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten

  • For the filling
  • 115g (4 oz) mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas) (¾ cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) soft light brown sugar (¼ cup)
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice (all-spice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger)
  • 28g (1 oz) butter, melted (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)

  • For the topping
  • 2 tbsp runny/clear honey
  • 6 sugar cubes, crushed OR
  • 2 tbsp granulated/white sugar

  • Equipment
  • Non-stick baking tin/pan, 28 x 18 x 4cm (11 x 7 x 1½ ins), lightly buttered


  1. Method
  2. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cube the butter, add to the bowl and rub in until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the yeast and mix in.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the warmed milk and eggs and mix to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes (6 minutes if using a stand mixer with a dough hook) until silky smooth.

  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 23cm (9 in) square.

  5. Now for the filling. Mix together the dried fruit and brown sugar. Stir though the mixed spice and melted butter until well mixed in.

  6. Evenly distribute the mixture over the dough to within 5cm (¼ in) of the edge. Now carefully roll the dough up as tightly as possible. Cut the rolled dough into eight equal slices and place in the prepared tin with the cut sides down, spacing evenly apart.

  7. Loosely cover the tin/pan with cling film and leave in a warm place until the buns have risen and almost fill the tin/pan. The dough should retain an indentation when lightly pressed with a finger.

  8. Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  9. Bake the buns for 25 minutes until they are golden brown and feel firm when lightly pressed with a finger.

  10. Remove the buns from the oven. Heat the honey in a small pan until just warm and then brush all over the buns. Now just sprinkle the crushed sugar over the top.

  11. Allow to cool in the tin/pan before removing and then gently separate the buns.

Updated: August 13, 2017

St George’s Day Buns

St George's Day Buns

 

It’s disappointing that St George’s Day (23rd April) doesn’t get as much attention as St Patrick’s Day or even St Andrew’s Day. However, we personally try to make up for it by eating our own creation – St George’s Day Buns.

These buns are based on a traditional recipe for Dorset Wiggs, buns that originated in the English county of Dorset and mentioned in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1664. We decided to use Dorset Wiggs because the earliest dedication to St George in England is a church in Fordington, Dorset, which was even mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great who died as long ago as 899.

The buns are topped with the cross of St George. He became the patron saint of England in a process that began in 1348 and it shows how important he was, that when it was made illegal in 1552, during the Reformation, to fly any saint’s banner, the cross of St George was the only banner that was allowed.

 

St George's Day Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Ingredients

  • For the Dorset Wiggs
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 300ml (10½ fl oz) warm milk (1¼ cups)
  • 60g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 15g (1½ tbsp) instant yeast
  • 60g (2 oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 1 egg, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ½ tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (I use ½ tsp mixed spice, as I’m not keen on caraway seeds)

  • For the white icing
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) icing sugar, sifted (4 cups)
  • About 6 tbsp water

  • For the red icing
  • 230g (8 oz) icing sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • About 2 tbsp water
  • Dr Oetker Gel Food Colour, Bright Red/Wilton’s red (no-taste) icing colour
  • (Here in Canada, I use this no-taste brand as some colourings are quite bitter and this one has fewer additives.)


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the milk. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the rest of the ingredients for the Dorset Wiggs.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, sugar, yeast, and the beaten egg to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well. Finally, mix in the spices.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  17. Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, an inch or more apart. This will give them room to grow without touching each other. Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  18. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7

  19. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  20. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  21. For the icing
  22. Boil some water and pour 6 tablespoons into a mixing bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl gradually, stirring briskly after each addition. Adjust the amounts to achieve a fairly stiff consistency. Take a dessert spoon and drop a spoonful onto each bun, using the back of the spoon to smooth the icing over the top surface. Allow to set for a few hours.

  23. For the crosses
  24. Mix the icing sugar and water as above and then add a few drops of red colouring, a little at a time until the colour is the desired red. Make the crosses using a piping bag with a nozzle with a flat opening (I used a Wilton No. 47). Just make sure the even edge is uppermost.



  25. Tip
  26. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right.

  27. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: April 17, 2017

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

 

Update  My recipe previously included all spice because I couldn’t find the mixed spices used in the U.K. Whilst you can use any spices that you like, I’ve now adapted the recipe to more closely resemble the traditional British flavours.

Tastier than store-bought, we enjoy these traditional hot cross buns at Easter and all year round! I have to thank Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bakeoff for the idea of adding an apple to the recipe. It adds to the flavour and gives them a softer, more moist, texture.

I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook but you can knead by hand if you prefer.

 

Hot Cross Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 2 hours
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hours
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 75g (2½ oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g (5 oz) sultanas (1 cup)
  • 80g (3 oz) chopped, mixed peel (½ cup)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (room temperature) (3 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) whole/full fat milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1¼ cups)
  • ¾ tsp all spice
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

  • For the crosses
  • 75g (2½ oz) plain/cake & pastry flour (½ cup)
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) water (¼ cup + 1 tbsp)

  • For the glaze
  • 3 tsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp water


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. Chop the mixed peel and the apple into small cubes, grate the zest of an orange into the mixture, and put to one side.

  4. Weigh out the salt, sugar, and yeast, and add to the flour in the mixer bowl, putting the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Then add the sultanas and the fruit that you chopped up, as well as the spices. Mix all these dry ingredients together. (This allows the flour to coat the fruit and prevent it sticking together.)

  5. Add the butter, egg, and milk, and mix on speed 1 until it is all evenly mixed. This only takes about a minute. Then mix on speed 2 for another 8 minutes. While this is kneading, lightly oil a large bowl for the dough to rise in.

  6. The dough should now be smooth, the sides of the bowl should be clean, and the dough should come off the dough hook without sticking. Tip it out onto a lightly floured (or oiled) surface and shape it into a ball. Put it into the oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  7. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  8. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  9. Step 2
  10. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  11. Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, about an inch apart. This will give them room to grow so that they’re almost touching after proving. (You want them to join up when baking so that you have to tear them apart when finished.) Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  12. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5

  13. Step 3
  14. For the crosses
  15. Mix the flour and water into a paste and add to a piping bag with a fine nozzle. Make one half of the crosses by piping across each row of buns in one sweep, starting on the tray and finishing each sweep on the tray at the other side. When all the buns are piped in one direction, turn the tray and repeat, forming the crosses.

  16. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  17. For the glaze
  18. Warm the apricot jam with a teaspoon of boiling water and brush over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.

  19. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  20. Unless you can't wait, freeze the buns and defrost when needed.



  21. Tip
  22. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right. With this recipe they worked out to be about 103g (3⅔ oz) each

  23. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Chocolate Choux Buns

I have just made some chocolate choux buns and, whilst making the choux pastry, I decided to try whisking the eggs into the melted butter mixture using an electric hand whisk. I had picked up on the fact that this is supposed to incorporate air into the mixture as you are whisking in the eggs, resulting in a lighter pastry.

 

Having had success with these choux buns, I will now use this method when making the pastry for the religieuses and so I have amended the method for making the choux pastry in that recipe to show this (see here).

 

I like trying new ways of doing things. They don’t always work but this one certainly did.

 

Chocolate Choux Buns

 

Choux buns filled with a sweet, vanilla cream and topped with a thick coating of chocolate – what could be more heavenly?

 

Chocolate Choux Buns
Prepares: 8 choux buns
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the choux buns
  • 50g/2 oz butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar/fine white sugar
  • 70g/2½ oz plain flour/cake and pastry flour
  • 
2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), lightly beaten

  • For the filling
  • 284ml double cream/whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp caster sugar/fine white sugar

  • Topping
  • 100g/3½ oz plain chocolate/dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 85g/1½ oz butter, cut into cubes


  1. Method
  2. For the choux buns
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

  4. First sift the flour onto a piece of baking paper.

  5. Place the butter and sugar in a heavy-based pan with 150ml/5 fl oz of water. Heat the mixture over a medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Now bring the mixture to a rolling boil and then immediately remove from the heat. 


  6. Quickly tip in the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball. Then cook over a very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

  7. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and, using an electric whisk, gradually add the eggs, whisking well between each addition. Not all the egg may be needed. Just add enough until the mixture is smooth and shiny and of a dropping consistency. (Using an electric whisk will allow air to be incorporated into the mixture as the eggs are added.) 


  8. Sprinkle a little water over a non-stick baking sheet. (When in the oven the water will create steam which will help puff up the mixture.) Put eight large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.

  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. (Don’t open the door of the oven during the first 20 minutes of cooking.) Remove the choux buns and turn off the oven.

  10. Pierce a small hole into each choux bun with a skewer, which will allow steam to escape, then return to the oven for 10 minutes to dry out.

  11. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  12. Topping
  13. Put the butter and half the chocolate in a heavy based pan. Melt over a medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until it has melted and the mixture is of a smooth consistency. Set to one side to cool.

  14. For the filling
  15. Pour the cream into a bowl with the vanilla extract and sugar, and whisk until stiff. Cut the buns in half and fill with the cream mixture.

  16. Once the chocolate is cool, thickly coat the top of the buns.

  17. Note
  18. These are best eaten within a few hours after they have been filled. Once filled with the cream mixture, the pastry will tend to soften.