23 March, 2010

March recipe: Chelsea buns

There’s something very satisfying about home-baked bread. Yeast cookery in general has a faint hint of alchemy about it – bubbling potions, dough that doubles in size all by itself – and there are endless variations, both sweet and savoury. Chelsea buns are among my favourites of the sweet variations. They consist of a sweet bread dough rolled with fruit and brown sugar, and are completely impossible to eat without getting your fingers sticky.

Chelsea buns (makes 6-8)

4 Tablespoons (approx 60 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) sugar
1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) dried yeast

8 oz (approx 250 g) strong white bread flour
2 oz (approx 50 g) butter
1 oz (approx 25 g) sugar, preferably light brown soft sugar or similar
1 egg

2 oz mixed dried fruit
1 oz brown sugar
1 oz butter

Dissolve the teaspoon of sugar in the warm water, and sprinkle the dried yeast on top. Leave in a warm place for 20 minutes or so until frothy.

Rub the 2 oz of butter into the flour.

Mix in the sugar and make a well in the centre.

Pour in the yeast liquid, followed by the beaten egg.

Mix to a soft dough, adding more water if necessary. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour.

Turn onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute or two until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour. It should roughly double in size.

Knead again, and roll out to about 1 cm (less than 0.5 inch) thick, in a roughly rectangular shape.

Dot the 1 oz of butter evenly over the rectangle of dough, and sprinkle with the brown sugar and dried fruit.

Starting from one of the short sides, roll up the rectangle like a Swiss roll.

Cut the roll into thick slices (about 1 inch, approx 2.5 cm, thick).

Put the slices cut side down onto a greased baking sheet, so they almost touch each other. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. The buns should expand to touch each other.

Bake in a hot oven, about 220 C, for about 20 minutes until firm and golden.

Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

If liked, you can brush them with a sugar glaze, but I prefer them without.

Best eaten within a day or two. I expect they would freeze, but I’ve never tried.


Bernita said...

Oh yes!
My favourite bun!
They usually don't last long enough to have any to freeze.

Meghan said...

That looks soooo good! I need to learn how to back so I can make them!

Carla said...

Bernita - Same here, which is why I've never tried freezing them :-)

Meghan - assuming you can buy dried yeast on your side of the Pond, these aren't difficult to make. Why not have a go?

Kathryn Warner said...

Scrummy and mouth-watering, like all your recipes, Carla. As you and Bernita said, if I ever bake them, the question of whether they would last long enough to require freezing is entirely academic. :)

Carla said...

Kathryn - thanks.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

I never have much luck with yeast baking, but I really like these buns. You may just have inspired me to give them another go! :-)

Carla said...

Elizabeth - if you do, I hope they work out well this time! Some people tell me that they find yeast baking easier with the easy-bake type of yeast, the kind that comes in sachets and you mix in directly with the flour, rather than activating it in warm water first. I've always got on well with the ordinary kind of dried yeast, but you could maybe try the other kind and see if you have any better luck with it?

Gabriele Campbell said...

Looks like I need to come over and visit some people who're better at baking than I am. ;)