A Cambridge roadtrip last week called for visit to Fitzbillies to try their renowned Chelsea Buns, whilst sat by the river. I read about Fitzbillies years ago, of the couple who brought new energy to a bakery in decline. Together, they revived a time honoured recipe for Chelsea Buns and people now travel from all over to give them a try.
On trying the buns, I figured out the headline ingredients were the use of currents, rather than raisins, and a super sweet honey glaze that has you licking your fingers in no time.
Here’s my take on that delicious bun from Cambridge.
This is a slow dough as it is enriched, so allow two hours for the first prove and an hour for the second. Plus baking 20 minutes. Good things take time.
For the dough:
70g butter, (these days, I'm dairy free and use Vegan Block – it’s amazing!)
7g dried instant yeast
30g maple or coconut sugar (caster is fine)
80g whole milk, (I used oat milk)
300g strong white flour
Good pinch of sea salt
Scant extra flour to roll
For the Filling:
100g coconut sugar (brown sugar is good too)
50g butter, (or Vegan Block)
1 tbsp vanilla paste
Good pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Honey Glaze, combine:
50g warm water
To make the dough, place all the dough ingredients into your stand mixer and using the dough hook, work on slow for around three minutes until a soft dough is formed. Alternatively, work by hand – it’s a sticky business – for about five minutes.
When the dough is smooth, transfer in a covered bowl to the fridge for around two hours. The dough may be chilled at this stage for up to 12 hours – so you can leave overnight, to prepare the next day. Also, as this is a sticky dough, it’s far easier to work with when chilled.
When you’re ready to assemble the buns, butter and flour a large, high sided roasting tin. Set to one side.
Prepare the filling mixture by placing all ingredients into a small pan over a low heat. As soon as the butter has melted, remove from the heat and give a good stir. This stage helps to plump out the currants and combine the flavours.
Roll the dough out into a thin rectangle, about 30x20cm. Keep the dough moving to prevent it from sticking to the table – you may need to flip it over several times, keeping the surface very finely floured. Avoid over flouring!
Cover the dough surface evenly with the filling and carefully roll the dough towards you, as you would a Swiss roll, to create a long cylinder.
Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 8-10 equal portions, depending on how big you like your buns and transfer to the baking tin.
Loosely cover the buns with a foil hood – a plastic shower cap or large food bag also works well – just take care to avoid touching the surface of the buns – and leave to prove in a warm place for up to an hour, until largely increased in volume.
Depending on how long your oven takes to heat, set it to 180c so that you’re ready to bake in good time.
Bake for 20 minutes and whilst the buns are baking, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk.
Once the buns are baked, glaze whilst still hot from the oven.
Allow to cool a little before tucking in. *I think we lasted three minutes.