It’s hard to tell you how magical these chelsea buns are. Fragrant spices, tart and chewy fruit with a whiff of bourbon, citrus tang. Soft, pillowy dough. Sweet icing. It was truly revelatory.
I’ve wanted to try these out, and decided that Paul Hollywood’s recipe had to be where I start…I only know about them from the Great British Bake-Off, so feels fitting.
What is a chelsea bun?? Chelsea buns aren’t really a thing in the U.S…at least as far as I’m aware. I’d certainly never heard of them before I started watching the Great British Bake-Off.
They are a currant sweet bun from the 1700s, once favored by royalty. Made basically the same way as a cinnamon roll, but stuffed with dried fruit instead and usually with some citrus zest in there. They’re a real British staple.
(Side note, I just went down a rabbit hole about the difference between currants, raisins, and sultanas, soooo…)
And I’m so glad I’ve tried them out, because they were so worth it!
If you’re looking at the ingredients list and thinking “whoa, that’s intense!”…don’t be put off by it. It’s not nearly as complicated or intense as it looks, I promise. I just like to write detailed instructions because I think it makes life easier…and I have step-by-step photos throughout the post so you can see how everything should look.
Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted, then let sit until it’s lukewarm.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, stir the flour and salt together, then add the yeast. Pour the lukewarm melted butter/milk mixture into the flour mixture, and start to combine. Add the egg and stir thoroughly until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough.
Tip the dough onto a VERY lightly-floured work surface and knead well for five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a lightly-oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap (or a damp tea towel), then leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
Once the dough has finished rising, punch it down and tip it out onto a lightly-floured surface. Roll it into a rectangle about (or larger than) 12 inches by 8 inches (or 30×20 cm). I would go a little longer if you’re able, to get an extra bun out of it.
Brush all over with melted butter, leaving half an inch on all sides of the dough.
In a medium bowl, stir together the dried cranberries, golden raisins, chopped apricots, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, bourbon, and vanilla.
Sprinkle the fruit mixture over the dough, leaving the same border.
This is where we get the chelsea buns magic…tack down the long side of the dough rectangle nearest to you by pressing it down onto the work surface with your thumb.
Starting on the opposite long side of the dough, gently roll it towards you, keeping the roll tight (you’ll have to be careful with it as you start the roll).
With a sharp knife or cutter tool, cut the log into thick rounds (about 1.5 inches or about 4cm, or even a bit bigger). Grease a deep roasting tin or 9×13 pan thoroughly with butter and place the rounds in the pan, cut-side up. Leave about half an inch of space between each, as they’ll expand on their second rise and touch.
Leave to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 375 F regular or 355 F convection (190/170 C).
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden-brown. Start checking after 15 minutes and cover with foil if the buns are getting too brown.
Once done, remove the buns from the oven and let them cool slightly before transferring them from the tin to a cooling rack.
Melt the jam in a small saucepan (or bowl in the microwave) with a splash of water until smooth. Brush the jam over the buns to glaze and allow to cool.
Mix together the icing sugar, orange zest and some of the juice. Stir together and add more juice until the thickness is correct. Drizzle the icing over the cooled buns and allow to set before serving.
I feel like you need a few more pictures of this…and I’m here for you.
These were so amazing that I can’t even describe to you the flavors…I was unprepared for their awesomeness, and subsequent calorie accrual.
Other stuffed sweet breads you’ll love:
- Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Cherry Bread
- Sweet & Gooey Lemon Cardamom Buns
- Traditional Finnish Cinnamon Buns (Korvapuusti)
- Spiced Chocolate Tahini Swirl Bread
- Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah
- Heavenly Dark Chocolate Orange Babka
Adapted very slightly from the official BBC recipe
These are the most amazing, soft, flavorful chelsea buns from Paul Hollywood himself! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Paul Hollywood's Chelsea Buns
These are the most amazing, soft, flavorful chelsea buns from Paul Hollywood himself!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
The baking temperatures are incorrect for convection and non-convection. The original recipe (https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chelsea_buns_01576) does make it a bit confusing with the statement “190C/170C Fan/Gas 5”. It means 190C or 375F without a fan/convection. Or 170C or 335F with a fan/convection. Or #5 on a gas oven with numbers.
You’re totally right, that was a typo on my part. I baked it right but transposed the directions. It’s fixed now–thank you for letting me know!
Your math is wrong (as is the BBC recipe)If your dough rectangle is 30×20, you can’t cut 10 pieces of 4cm each: they’d have to be 3cm. But that seems really small. Is that correct? Should the rectangle be bigger?
Hi Patrick, thanks for the note! You are indeed right, that math doesn’t work out 🙂 I’ll be honest and say I somewhat eyeballed the dough rectangle size when I made it, and it’s possible mine was bigger than 30cm (~12 inches). The fact that mine made 10 buns is a lucky coincidence, as I didn’t realize that’s what theirs said too. Generally speaking I do think your rolls should be cut around 4cm as the height on these is important (in my opinion) to the texture and not drying out. So if that gives you one less bun, I’d do that. Or roll your dough out a little longer. Hope that helps, and good catch!