Chelsea Buns

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First created in eighteenth century London (in Chelsea no less), these spiralled buns are full of currents and cinnamon and make for a perfect snack. Best served with a cup of tea and an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for times long past.


Preparation Time: 3 hours
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: About 12 buns


  1. Weigh all the dry ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Then mix them together. the dry ingredients for the chelsea bun dough
  2. Soften the butter in a microwave (or leave it at room temperature for about an hour until it has softened) and then add it with the milk and egg to the dry dough ingredients. the dry and wet ingredients
  3. Mix the dough ingredients together with a butter knife or wooden spoon until it has come together. the roughly mixed dough
  4. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it for about 5 minutes until it has become smooth, soft and elastic. Then put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover it with cling-film/plastic-wrap, and put it in a warm place to prove until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. the kneaded chelsea bun dough
  5. While the dough is rising, weigh the sugar and flour for the crème patisserie into another large mixing bowl with the eggs and vanilla extract. the ingredients for the creme patisserie
  6. Mix them together with a whisk, then pour in the milk and cream and whisk them together so the mixture is thoroughly mixed. the mixed creme patisserie
  7. Pour the crème patisserie mixture into a saucepan over a very low heat and stir it constantly while it heats up. cooking through the creme patisserie after adding the scalded milk
  8. The mixture will gradually thicken. When it has a texture similar to mayonnaise or thick custard (which is what it essentially is), take the pan off the heat and tip the crème patisserie mixture back into a clean bowl or dish. the thickened creme patisserie in the pan
  9. Cover the surface of the crème patisserie with a piece of cling-film/plastic-wrap (to prevent it forming a skin) and allow it to cool to room temperature. The mixture will continue to thicken and appear to set as it cools. cooling the creme patisserie
  10. When the crème patisserie has cooled, mix it using a stick blender or whisk, it should turn from a rubbery, jelly-like texture into a smooth, creamy thick custard again. Then stir in the cinnamon. the stirred creme patisserie
  11. After about an hour of rising, the dough should have doubled in size. Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface. the risen chelsea bun dough
  12. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle exactly 35cm by 50cm, any deviation from these dimensions means you have failed and will have to start everything all over again (just kidding, that’s just how big ours was, but you should aim for something similar). the dough rolled out on the worktop
  13. When you have rolled out the dough, spread the crème patisserie out over the dough using a palette knife or butter knife, leaving a gap of about 3cm along the edge furthest away from you. the dough with the cinnamon creme patisserie
  14. Then sprinkle the raisins evenly over the crème patisserie. adding the raisins
  15. Beginning with the edge closest to you, carefully roll up the sheet of dough into a sausage, taking care not to put too much pressure on it (you don’t want to roll it loosely but you don’t want to crush it or squeeze out the filling either, we recommend rolling it "just right"). starting to roll up the dough and filling
  16. Continue rolling until it is completely rolled. the rolled dough
  17. Cut the Chelsea bun sausage into about 2cm thick slices. Put the slices into a large roasting tin or baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving about 1cm of space between each one. the cut buns in the baking tin
  18. Leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes. By that time they should have expanded and be touching each other. the raw chelsea buns after the final rising
  19. While the buns are rising, heat the oven to 200°c.
  20. When the buns are ready, put them into the oven and bake them for 25 minutes.
  21. While the buns are baking make the glaze by putting the milk, butter and sugar into a small saucepan and heating them over a medium heat. the glaze ingredients
  22. Stir the glaze until the sugar and butter have dissolved and melted. Bring the glaze to the boil and boil it for about 1 minute, then take it off the heat. cooking the glaze
  23. When the Chelsea buns are cooked, remove them from the oven. the baked buns cooling in the tin
  24. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the buns with all of the glaze (they should be saturated with it). It may appear to be disastrously wet but have faith, they will absorb it all and it will set. the glaze buns, waiting for the glaze to set
  25. Allow the glaze to set fully and the buns to completely cool to room temperature before tucking in. a finished chelsea bun on a plate
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Useful Information

Can it be frozen? Yes.
Can it be prepared in advance? Yes, they can be finished up to 5 days in advance.
Will leftovers be nice? Yes, for up to 5 days. Warm them for 5 minutes in a medium oven for best results.

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