Baking Chelsea Buns

Stage 1

Ferment .

Water @40C (105F) 10oz (285g)

Yeast 3/4 oz (22g)

Caster Sugar 1oz (28g)

Bread Flour 3oz (85g)

Milk Powder 1/2 oz (15g)

 Stage 2


Strong Bread Flour 1lb(500g)

Lard or Trex (white fat) 2oz (56g)

Caster Sugar 2oz (56g)

Salt 1/4 oz (7g)


 Stage 1 (Ferment)       

Weigh the Yeast, sugar, Flour and milk powder into separate containers in  preparation for mixing.

Weigh/measure the water at the required temperature. into a bowl large enough to allow for contents to double in size.

 (1 part  boiling water to 2 parts cold water will give a temperature of approx. 40C (105F)

Add the yeast to the water and disperse with a whisk/fork  . Then add the remaining dry ingredient and whisk together.

Cover with cling film or a cloth and set aside in a warm, draught free area for 25 minutes.

This ferment will start to grow and appear as a rather firm foam as the yeast starts to feed and grow. Do not knock or leave longer than stated or the ferment will “drop”. This is not a disaster as if it is left it will start to work again but the yeast could become exhausted so it is best not to let this happen.        


Stage 2. (Dough)

Weigh the flour and salt and sieve together into a mixing bowl.

Weigh the fat and rub into the above.

Weigh the sugar and set aside .

Add the risen ferment and sugar to the flour, salt, fat mixture in the bowl and using a spatula/wooden spoon start to  mix to form a dough .

When all the ingredients are formed into a dough, tip out onto the table and using both hands ,start to develop the dough.

This is a very soft dough so do not be tempted to start adding more flour at this early stage. As mixing progresses the gluten will develop and start to form a nice clear dough.

This mixing ,if done by hand ,will take at least 10 minutes.

When mixed, return the formed dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth or lightly oiled cling film and set aside in a draught-free warm area for 1 hour 15 minutes.

After this time the dough should have doubled in size and is now ready to be processed.


TURN ON THE OVEN (if not already on) 230C, Fan 210C, 450 F, Gas mark 7.

At this stage you will require:

2oz (56g) melted butter , 2oz (56g) Demerara sugar,  6oz (170g) Dried fruit (currants ,sultanas and mixed peel)

These amounts are a recommended minimum and can be increase to the makers taste, however too much of this filling will actually spoil the product, Dried fruit can be according to personnel taste but should total at least the stated amount.

Carefully tip the dough out of the bowl on to the work surface, taking care not to expel all the gas at this stage.. Because of the shape of a bowl, you will have a round ball of dough. The object of the next step is to form this ball into a rectangle, knocking all the gas out would make this more difficult to achieve.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle 7mm (1/4 in) thick and approx 300mm (12in) wide.

Brush with melted butter but leave the bottom edge nearest you  un washed.

Wash this bottom edge with either egg or water wash. TIP to make egg wash: use 1 egg and half an egg shell of water, mix together.

Brush with melted butter

 Sprinkle evenly with the  dried fruit of your choice, at least 6oz (150g). Next sprinkle with the Demerara (golden caster, granulated or brown sugar can be used). At this stage, mixed spice or cinnamon can be added according to taste but take care not to over spice the product as the traditional flavour of the Chelsea will be lost.

Fold in the top edge (opposite the egg washed edge) and start to roll up into a tight roll (swiss roll style)

Wash the whole roll with melted butter ensuring all the surface is coated.

 Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into approx 2oz (56g)  sections .

Place these pieces with the cut surface downwards onto a lightly greased or baking parchment lined , warmed, baking tray.

The pieces should be spaced as shown below. Touching on one edge but each line spaced. This will ensure, that when proved, a square bun will result.

 The buns now need to be proved for approx 30-35 minutes at 38C (100F) in humid conditions.  If a prover is not available, the best way is to place the whole tray into a large plastic bag ensuring that the bag does not touch the surface of the dough.

Whilst the buns are proving make the syrup bun wash.

Dissolve and then bring to the boil  4oz (112g) Granulated sugar in 5oz (140g) water. Remove from the heat the moment the syrup boils.

When the buns have proved for 30-35 minutes, carefully place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.

After baking, remove from the oven, wash with the prepared syrup wash and dredge heavily with caster sugar. Leave to stand for at least 8 minutes to allow the dough to set. Ideally, if baking paper has been used, after 5 minutes you could carefully slide/lift the buns as a whole onto a cooling wire. The dilemma is, that if left in the tray too long, the buns will sweat but if moved to soon it will damage the bun.

Note: As an alternative to syrup wash, a thin mix of egg, milk and sugar is sometimes used or just use melted butter  before dredging.

Another finish would be to ice the buns with water icing and sprinkle with flaked or nib nuts before the icing sets.

Water Icing. 4oz (120g) icing sugar 3/4 oz (20g) water. Heat the water. Whisk in the sieved icing sugar to a smooth icing.