Next-Level Chelsea Buns is excerpted from "Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives" by Kitty and Al Tait.
Next-Level Chelsea Buns
I used to hate Chelsea buns; I just couldn’t see the point of anything where raisins or sultanas were involved. Every now and again I would chomp into a cookie, bun or pastry speckled with chocolate chips, only to find out that they weren’t chocolate chips at all and were in fact chewy, dry little pellets – raisins or sultanas, my nemesis. However, after a lot of requests for Chelsea buns, mainly from customers of a certain vintage, I decided to have a go. Like in Roald Dahl’s Danny Champion of the World, I soaked the dried fruit. This made them plump and juicy. This, together with adding thinly sliced apple, results in an amazingly soft bun that is now one of the bakery favourites (even with our customers under the age of 70).
Makes 12 buns
- 1 quantity of Everything Dough (see recipe below)
- FOR THE FILLING
- 150g raisins, sultanas or mixed dried fruit
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 50g dried cranberries (optional, but great if you can get hold of them – add them in at the fruit- soaking stage)
- 1 tea bag (English breakfast or Earl Grey)
- about 100ml boiling water
- 50g unsalted butter, melted
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 apple, thinly sliced (optional, but strongly recommended)
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
FOR THE GLAZE
- 50ml water
- 1 tablespoon orange marmalade or apricot jam
FOR THE ICING
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the raisins, sultanas or mixed dried fruit and garam masala (and the cranberries if you want). Add the tea bag (English breakfast is fine, but Earl Grey adds a really nice fragrance) and pour in enough boiling water to cover. Set aside to steep for at least 15 minutes or overnight.
2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 30 × 20cm rectangle that is roughly 1cm thick. This is much easier to do when the dough has proved overnight in the fridge and is still cold.
3. Lay the dough rectangle on the work surface with a longer side facing you. Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, then lay the apple slices on top.
4. Drain the fruit in a colander and remove the tea bag. Scatter the plump fruit over the dough along with the lemon zest, if using.
5. Starting at one long edge, roll the dough into a tight log. Using a sharp knife or length of thread, slice the dough crossways into 12 equal slices, each roughly 2cm wide.
6. Line a deep baking tray with parchment paper. Place the dough slices cut-side down on the tray, spacing them 1cm apart. Place a damp tea towel over the top of the tray and leave in a warm place to prove for 40–45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
EVERYTHING DOUGH RECIPE
We use this dough for pretty much everything, hence the name. It’s more enriched with butter, eggs and sugar than the dough used for the Fika Buns which gives it the feel of a brioche. For the savoury recipes made with this dough just cut back the sugar to 10g.
Makes 1 quantity
- 200ml lukewarm whole milk
- 7g instant dried yeast (2 teaspoons or a whole sachet)
- 500g strong white bread flour or plain flour
- 80g caster sugar for a sweet dough or 10g caster sugar for a savoury dough
- 10g fine sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 125g soft unsalted butter, cubed
1. Gently warm the milk in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yeast. Set aside and leave to bubble for 5 minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Make a small well in the flour, pour in the milk and yeast mixture, crack in the eggs and stir together until it forms a rough dough.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and either knead by hand for 10 minutes or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4-5 minutes, gradually working the cubes of butter into the dough as you knead until it is soft, silky and stretchy. Pop the dough back into the bowl, place a damp tea towel or shower cap over the rim and leave to prove for 1 hour until the dough has almost doubled in size. Alternatively, refrigerate the dough (still covered) overnight, ready to bake the next day. If you can plan for this extra proving time, it really helps as the dough is much easier to work with when cold.