Chelsea Buns remind me of my greedy childhood. They were the most tempting thing in the baker's bread range because they were huge and fruity and sweet and most importantly I was allowed to spread them with butter. Can you get more decadent or even unhealthy? I loved every buttery bite.
Today, though I am going to bring them more up to date and give them a modern twist by substituting the raisin/sultana filling with my husband's favourites: apricots and almonds. I know how to keep on his good side and no doubt I will be only too glad to eat one or two myself.
250g lievito madre
500g strong flour
10g fresh yeast
150 g sugar
50g dried milk powder
300 ml water at body temperature
200g soft apricots chopped
150 chopped almonds
100g unsalted butter
150g light muscovado sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
100g unsalted butter
Start by putting all, yes all of the ingredients for the buns in a bowl and mixing with your hands until you have a cohesive ball of dough. Now, if you have a stand mixer, put it in the mixture and, using the dough hook, mix for 8 minuted. If not kneed by hand for 10 minutes. Return to the bowl and cover and leave to rise. It should at least double in size. This may take anything up to two hours as the dough is enriched and enriched doughs take a while to rise.
While you are waiting, rub the filling ingredients together until you have a crumbly mess.
You can also get the topping ready. Put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, stir and bring to the boil. Switch off and leave until you need it.
Now, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and prod the dough out into a long rectangle. To be honest I didn't measure, but it should be twice the size that you would expect to have in a swiss roll.
Mix the filling ingredients together and crumble it over the dough until you have covered almost the entire surface of the dough. You should leave about an inch uncovered on one of the long sides of the dough. Roll the dough up to make a long sausage. I then cut mine into 14 pieces. This seemed to be about right. Don't make them too thin as this is a Chelsea bun, not a pains aux raisins. A good thick bun is a sign of a good Chelsea bun.
Put them in a greased baking tin, cut side up. There should be some space between the buns. This will fill and the buns should be touching when they have risen. Cover and leave to rise. Approx. 1 hour should be about right. You should have a marshmallow texture on the buns when they are ready.
Cook in a preheated, 200 degree oven for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 190 and cook for a further ten minuted. Now take out of the oven and brush with the topping. Then return to the oven and cook until golden brown.
As you can see from mine, the buns catch easily. So cover if you can see than this might happen. It is better to cook them lower rather than higher in the oven.