It’s oh so quiet..

No posts at all this week! Sewing and crochet-wise, I am in a tricky situation of having a couple of things half-finished, and a couple of things that I can’t show because they are A Big Secret… and inspiration hasn’t really struck for more random posts. So I thought, to get me back into the swing of things, a Saturday Bake might be in order. Fancy a Chelsea bun?

Chelsea Buns

I’ve been addicted to Great British Bake-Off as usual. Every week I sit, eyes fixed on the screen, as these amazing bakers create the most gorgeous confections (as well as getting slightly depressed because I doubt much of my baking would pass the Hollywood test). A couple of weeks back, the contestants made Chelsea buns and I could stand it no longer – I resolved that I would have to give them go. Here’s the recipe I used – it’s based on Jane Grigson’s version in her wonderful cook book, English Food.

Chelsea Buns

This recipe makes 18 buns. Now, unless you are baking for an enormous tea-party, no one really needs 18 buns (wants, maybe, but not needs!). My solution to this was to freeze 12 of the buns after the construction phase and before the second rise. I froze them laid out on baking trays, then once frozen, I transferred them to a freezer bag. Then I had buns at the ready to defrost, prove, and bake, whenever I fancy (well, with a few hours planning!). Another way of doing things would be to freeze 12 after baking but without the bun wash. You could then defrost them, and refresh them in a very hot oven and apply the bun wash whilst they cool. Haven’t tried that method but I bet it works!

500g strong plain flour (I used half wholemeal)
1/4 tsp salt
15g fast action dried yeast (double if you use fresh)
40g sugar (I’ve cut this down from the 60g in the recipe – these buns are really sweet!)
150ml whole milk
150ml boiling water
90g butter

60g melted butter
90g dark brown sugar
90g raisins
60g candied peel (I subbed this with sultanas because my kids don’t like peel)

Bun wash (enough for 6 buns)
30g sugar
3 tbsps water


  • Put the yeast, 125g of the flour and 1 tsp of the sugar into a bowl.
  • Pour the milk into a jug and add the hot water – pour this mixture over the flour and yeast and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Leave it in a warm place to froth up.
  • Measure the rest of the flour into a large bowl (or mixer bowl) and add the salt, the rest of the sugar, and rub in the butter.
  • Form a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and the frothy yeast mix.
  • Gradually mix with a spoon until you can handle the dough and then turn into onto a floured surface to knead until it is (as Grigson puts it) a ‘coherent, slightly rubbery ball, with a moderately tacky, but not sticky, texture’. Alternatively you can use a mixer to knead the dough.
  • Transfer to a large clean, oiled or buttered bowl, cover with a large polythene bag or damp cloth and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
  • Roll out the risen dough (I found I didn’t need any flour – this buttery dough doesn’t seem to stick!) to a large rectangle of about 30cmx45cm.
  • Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar, then the fruit. Make sure that you spread them nice and evenly!
  • Starting at one of the long sides, roll up the dough fairly tightly (this is where I failed!), and then cut into 18 pieces with a sharp knife.
  • Transfer 6 of the buns to a lined square/rectangular baking dish/tin, about 2cm deep, leaving 1cm between the buns. They need to fit snugly in the tin (a square cake tin is good for this).  Cover the tin with a polythene and leave them to prove until they have squidged together. Meanwhile preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7, 220C.
  • Put the other 12 buns on flat baking trays, put the trays in large carrier bags, then place in the coldest bit of your freezer (having previously made space of course!) to freeze quickly. As soon as they are frozen, remove from the trays and transfer to freezer bags or boxes to be ready to use at a later date. All you need to do is take them out of the freezer, put on a prepared baking tin, leave to defrost, then prove, then cook as below. Remember it can take a good 5 hours for them to defrost and rise (depending on how warm your kitchen is).
  • Now your non-frozen buns should be ready for the oven – bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Whilst they are in the oven, make the bun wash by boiling together the water and sugar until it is thick and syrupy.
  • When baked, remove the buns from the oven and leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes. Remove the buns from the tin (they will probably come out in one piece), tear apart and place on a rack to cool.
  • Brush thoroughly with the bun wash whilst the buns are still warm.

Eat and enjoy! Let me know how you get on with these if you give them a go. They would be brilliant for Halloween or bonfire night!

14 thoughts on “It’s oh so quiet..

  1. I love chelsea buns but you don’t see them in bakeries very often these days. However, I saw some in our local small supermarket (made in the in-house bakery) and really fancied one. The trouble is they have already sold out by time I get there so it seems they are many people’s favourite. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of your book and make some instead.
    Teresa x

  2. Really love the GBBO too, I think the participants get more accomplished each year, so much talent. But how do they stay so slim given all the baking they must do to get so good? Chelsea buns look wonderful! mmmmm

  3. Mmmm, chelsea buns. I haven’t made anything off the Bake Off yet. I really wanted to try the Teacakes {you can make them at home!!!} until I realised I don’t have a dome shaped mould! I still want to try the legendary Key Lime tart one day.

  4. I love this program so much!! I often feel that I have to try things myself too and this has included making a Wellington and bagels. The bagels were using a Nigella recipe and were fantastic, I love the bit when you put them into a pan of boiling water and they just puff up. we are already planning to make something with gingerbread this christmas.

  5. Yep, we’re all GBBO addicts here too! I dare not make Chelsea buns at home, but thankfully the bakery in town sells the most amazing ones so if we need a fix we can buy just one to share …

    1. You are so lucky to have a good source of Chelsea buns. We used to live in Cambridge and could enjoy the wonder of the legendary Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies, and I once had a Chelsea bun in Ripon that I will remember for the rest of my life! It was the sort of bun that you felt would do instead of a couple of meals!

  6. I can’t decide if Brendan is going to be the winner or if one of the other boys will pip him at the post at the last minute. I usually sit and munch whilst watching the programme. Your chelsea buns look delish!

    1. Brendan is really good, but I have a feeling that someone else will win… I am hoping for James, he’s my favourite 😉 although I feel I should support Danny as the only woman left..!

  7. Oh I love that show. Always makes me want to bake too. Really glad my brother didn’t see it this week or he would have me making some grand architectural gingerbread house this Christmas!

    1. I thought those gingerbread constructions were incredible, and laughed my head off when James converted his original idea into a ruined barn. You could always present a big pile of slightly smashed up gingerbread and call it the ruins of Pompeii or something…

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