Chelsea Buns

When I asked the Smith family to test a London recipe for Blog About Britain, they couldn’t choose between Tottenham Cake and Chelsea Buns so decided to make both.

Chelsea is also on the north side of the River Thames but right there on its banks and is just to the west of the city centre.  The area is known for its high property prices, one of the largest communities of Americans outside of the USA and Chelsea Buns.

The Smiths said that the buns were “delicious and flavoursome”.

You will need:

  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of fast-action dried yeast
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 60g currants (the Smiths used sultanas instead)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of mixed spice

And for the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Yeast works best in a warm environment – not too hot and not too cold.  So, to keep your yeast really happy, you might want to warm your mixing bowl and you will definitely need to warm your milk.  Put some hot water into the mixing bowl.  Measure the milk into a jug and stand the jug in the hot water in the bowl.  Let it sit for a few minutes so that the heat from the water can transfer to the bowl and to the milk via the jug.  Then lift the jug out, empty the bowl and dry it and you are ready to start.

Put the flour and yeast into the bowl.  Add just half of the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour and yeast until the mixture looks a bit like breadcrumbs. 

Add half the caster sugar and push the mixture out to the sides of the bowl leaving a dip in the middle.

Mix the eggs and milk together and pour this mixture into the dip in the flour.  Stir it in well and then cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place for about 11/2 hours for the yeast to work.

After 11/2 hours the dough should have grown to about twice the size.

Sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface so that you can put the dough there without it sticking.  Lightly knead it and then use a rolling pin (or a clean bottle) to roll the dough into a 30 cm square.

Spread the rest of the butter onto the square of dough and sprinkle on half of the remaining sugar.

Fold the dough in half and then roll it some more until one side is 48cm long and the other side is even longer.  The thinner and wider it is the more spirals in your finished buns.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar, the currants/sultanas and the mixed spice.

Starting from the 48cm side, carefully roll the dough like a Swiss Roll.

Cut the roll into 12 slices.

You need a (warm) baking tin of about 25 cm x 30 cm.  Make sure it is greased thoroughly and put the buns in so that the spirals are facing up.

Leave the tin in a warm place for 15 – 20 minutes for the yeast to work again.

Preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°F or Gas 5.

Bake the buns for 20 mins until golden brown, but while they are cooking, make the glaze.

Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring continuously.  When the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.

Remove the tray of buns from the oven and spread with the glaze.

They will have expanded and stuck to each other.  Lift them all together onto a wire cooling rack and let them cool completely before separating them.

Apparently they are best eaten the day they are made but they do freeze well.