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?
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.
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
60g melted butter
90g dark brown sugar
60g candied peel (I subbed this with sultanas because my kids don’t like peel)
Bun wash (enough for 6 buns)
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!