There is something about baking as a source of comfort when all is in disarray.
Whether it is the repetitive and monotonous tasks of measuring, weighing and following instructions carefully that baking recipes require more than other recipes; or if it is a nod back to happy memories of a kid helping mum or gran in the kitchen; I’m not sure.
Chelsea buns, created in the 18th Century in a bun house in Chelsea, are traditionally made with currants. Not only are currants expensive; soft and juicy sultanas are far more popular in our house. Seeing as Easter is just around the corner, I have given them a hot cross bun edge and added mixed spice to the dough as well as cinnamon to the swirl filling. You could, if making them for Easter itself, drizzle the icing in a cross shape over the buns too!
I always used to shy away from yeasted bakes, thinking them too complicated. This was wrong however – especially if you own a bread maker! Besides, kneading is a great way of getting rid of pent up tension, and once that bit is done, it’s up to the dough to work its rising magic.
This is one of the longest recipes on the blog, but totally worth it – please don’t be put off by all the steps!
These are known as ‘Sticky Buns’ in our house, as we have been reading Paddington Bear and in the book he has a fondness for sticky buns. You can make them as sticky as you like: either just brush the glaze over, or use the glaze and the icing if you want a sweeter stickier, treat. I have cut down the sugar in the dough and the filling that you may find in other recipes, so even with the icing they are not overly sweet.
Can I make these buns ahead?
These Chelsea buns are best eaten the day they are made, slightly warm from the oven. We have eaten them the next morning for breakfast and they are perfectly fine, just not quite as soft. They are the perfect accompaniment to a strong coffee, hot cup of tea, (or as Mini Jones would tell you, a cup of milk).
Can you freeze these buns?
Yes, you can. Wrap either as a batch or individually in a double layer of clingfilm. Defrost before heating through in a hot oven.
Make them your Chelsea buns:
Fruit: You can use currants or raisins, or a mixture of both, in place of the sultanas if you wish.
Easter baking: Make a thicker icing (with around 2 tsp water) and drizzle to make a cross on the top of each bun.
- 200 ml milk
- 50 g butter
- 450 g plain flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- pinch salt
- 7 g dried yeast
- 35 g granulated sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 25 g butter softened
- 150 g sultanas
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 30 g soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 50 g icing sugar
- 4-5 tsp water
- Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over a low heat until the butter just melted (you don’t want the milk to be too hot - see note 1).
- In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, yeast, white sugar, mixed spice and salt together. Stir in the beaten egg and then the tepid-warm milk.
- Bring together to make a soft dough then knead for 5-7 until smooth and elastic (or see note 2).
- Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured board and roll into a rectangle 20 x 30cm.
- Spread over the softened butter, then sprinkle the sultanas evenly over the surface. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and then sprinkle this mixture all over the dough in an even layer.
- Press down the long side closest to you to the board. Take the opposite long edge roll tightly towards you.
- Cut the roll into 9 even pieces, around 4-5cm thick.
- Line the bottom only of a 20 x 20 cm square tin with baking paper and place the swirls, cut side facing up, into it, leaving an even gap in between them all.
- Lay a tea towel over the top and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until the buns have grown in size and are now touching.
- Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C fan / 360 ˚F.
- Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes and if starting to brown and the sultanas starting to catch, cover with foil.
- Leave to cool in the tray for 5 minutes.
Make the Glaze
- Whilst the buns are cooling, make the glaze: In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water over a medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
- Brush the glaze over the top of the warm buns.
- Leave for 5minutes and then turn out to a wire rack.
- Either leave as is or make the icing.
Make the Icing
- Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, mix in the water until a thick but drizzly consistency
- Drizzle over the buns. Leave to set for a few minutes before eating.Enjoy!
- If the milk gets too hot, let it cool in the pan for a minute or two before adding to the flour mixture.
- Or use a bread maker to knead and rise, then take out, beat down and roll out then add the filling as in the recipe.