Chelsea Buns

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5 from 2 reviews

Sticky and delicious Chelsea Buns! These lightly spiced buns, filled with raisins, are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. Recipe with step-by-step photos.


For the Dough

For the Spiced-Butter Filling

For the Sugar Syrup

For the Icing


You will need approx. 3 hours to make the Chelsea Buns

For the Dough

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Add the egg to the bowl.
  4. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  6. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. The dough will be somewhat sticky from the butter and egg.

For the First Proofing Session

  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  3. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel, plastic wrap, or a reusable bowl cover.
  4. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).

For the Spiced Butter Filling

  1. Just before the dough is ready, make the filling by beating together the ingredients, except for the raisins or dried fruit.

To Shape the Chelsea Buns

  1. Line a baking pan measuring 35 x 25 cm/14 x 10 inches with baking paper.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, gently remove the dough from the bowl. The dough will deflate as you handle it.
  3. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 50 x 30 cm/20 x 12 inches.
  4. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough.
  5. Roll up the dough tightly from the long end, i.e. to produce a log that is 50 cm/16 inches long.
  6. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. I find it easiest to do so using a long piece of unflavoured dental floss, which will allow you to slice through the dough cleanly and sharply, and without flattening the dough. Simply slide the floss under the dough, then pull both ends of the floss across each other, which will cut through the dough as you pull.
  7. Arrange the slices of dough in the baking pan.

For the Second Proofing Session

  1. Place the pan somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly.

To Bake the Chelsea Buns

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (without fan) with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.
  2. Place the pan of buns on the preheated baking tray.
  3. Bake the buns for 10 minutes
  4. Reduce the heat to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  5. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C/185°F.

To Glaze the Chelsea Buns

  1. While the buns are baking, make the sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and bringing it to the boil for 1 minute.
  2. As soon as the buns have finished baking, brush them generously with the sugar syrup.
  3. Carefully remove the Chelsea Buns to a wire rack (intact) and let them cool completely.

To Ice the Chelsea Buns

  1. Make the icing by whisking together the ingredients until you have a thick, but runny, consistency.
  2. Drizzle the icing all over the cooled Chelsea Buns.
  3. The Chelsea Buns can be served immediately or once the icing has set. They are best eaten the same day they are baked.

Kitchen Notes

To adjust the recipe to make 9 buns, use the following quantities:
For the Dough:
400 g (2 2/3 cups) strong white bread flour

75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
9 g instant dried yeast
1 egg
250 ml (1 cup) milk
45 g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:

100 g (1 stick) unsalted butter
100 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Roll the dough into a rectangle shape, measuring approx 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches. Roll up the dough tightly from the short end, i.e. to produce a log that is 40 cm/16 inches long. Cut the dough into 9 even pieces.

* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).
* If you are using fresh yeast, you will need about 1 block (40 g fresh yeast = 14 g instant dried yeast). Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm milk, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven or a steamer oven at a low temperature of about 25-40°C (77-104°F).

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.