Chelsea Buns

Take me to any bakery, food market or cafe that sells baked goods & you could comfortably bet on me selecting the biggest, glistening bun on offer. My love of all things dough began at a very young age, I come from a household of bread lovers. Bread was always a staple, cheese on toast, sandwiches (soggy cucumber ones, obviously), good old bread & butter, used as a receptacle & the mopping up of pasta dishes & Sunday dinners, there it was accompanying most meals in the Lewis home.

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So it comes as no surprise that when I began in the baking world, bread was an area that appealed to me . Rather daunting at first, scouring through endless cookery books hunting the perfect recipe for a white bloomer, only to discover that it would take me some 3 hours to produce. Is anything in life worth 3 hours work, when I can have a sponge in & out of the oven in under an hour? Honest answer? Yes, yes it is.

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As far as baking is concerned, the satisfaction of baking your own, homemade bread is unrivaled. That proud feeling as you pull the perfect loaf out of the oven, a product which so much love & effort has gone into making. A true achievement. My first little loaf was a rather sad looking thing, underkneaded & underproved, but at the time it was the best thing I had ever tasted.

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After humble beginnings, I rose to the challenge of producing perfect breads. Bloomers, baguettes, pretzels, soda breads, rye, sourdough. Then came the sweet doughs of which I am so fond, hot cross buns, teacakes, cinnamon buns, brioche. Once you’ve tasted homemade buns, compared to the poor excuses, masquerading as bread, that line supermarket shelves, I guarantee you’ll be hooked on dough.

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These days I can’t enter a bakery without wondering what goes into making their buns & often strive to recreate them (next on my long list of baking ventures is a rather fabulous pistachio bun from The Bertinet Bakery in Bath). So if you’re after something sweet & satisfying or, like me, are just excited at the opportunity to spend some quality time in the kitchen, these buns are well worth the effort. Feel free to adapt the filling if raisins aren’t your friend, chopped glacé cherries or dried apricots work well too.

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CHELSEA BUNS
(makes 12)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 500g strong while flour
  • 10g fast acting yeast
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • 120g butter
  • 150ml milk

For the filling:

  • 55g butter
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 200g mixed fruit

To glaze:

  • 3 -4 tbsp apricot jam

For the icing:

  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Add the milk & butter to a small saucepan & gently heat until the butter has melted, set aside to cool until just lukewarm
  • In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, salt, cardamom & sugar
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, pour in the milk mixture
  • Stir until the mixture is well combined & a dough is formed, it is a sticky dough (you many not need all of the milk mixture, or add a little more milk if your dough feels a bit dry)
  • Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for 10 minutes (or for 5 minutes using a dough hook in a stand mixer) until it is smooth & elastic
  • Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm or a bag for life & leave to rise for about an hour to an hour & a half, until it has doubled in size
  • Once your dough has risen tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough (knead out the air)
  • Roll or stretch your dough out into a rectangle, roughly 40x30cm in size (so long as rectangular don’t worry too much)
  • Tack down the corners of the dough & one of its long-sided edges, to keep it in place & prevent the dough from springing back
  • For the filling, gently melt together the butter & lemon juice in a small saucepan
  • Brush the melted butter all over the stretched out dough
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon & sugar before sprinkling this all over the brushed butter (use your hands to ensure it’s evenly spread out)
  • Next, sprinkle over the mixed fruits & use your hands to spread this out evenly & gently press the fruit down into the dough to help it stay in place
  • Taking the untacked long edge, begin to roll your dough
  • Start by folding over a half inch & press this down to secure
  • Then, gently pull & continue to roll the dough  ensuring that it is taught & tight
  • Place the roll seam side down & cut into 12 even slices using a dough cutter or sharp knife
  • Place your buns onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Cover with cling film, a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a bag for life & leave to prove for 45 minutes – 1 hour until doubled in size
  • When proved, bake the buns in the oven at 190C for 20-25 minutes, until beautifully browned (if your oven if not the best, like my own, then you may need to check your buns after about 15 minutes to ensure they aren’t browning too much & place a layer of foil over them to finish baking)
  • Gently warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan
  • Once the buns are done baking, remove from the oven & immediately brush all over with the warmed apricot jam & leave to cool on a cooling rack
  • Once cooled, use just enough lemon juice to make a pourable icing & drizzle this all over the buns

loaf

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