The Scandilicious Chelsea Bun...

I've been following Signe on twitter for ages now, and there's always something very familiar about her flavour combinations and recipes...  That's not to say that I've found them available widely, on the contrary, but having grown up in Germany there's something about the Scandinavian palate that resonates strongly with my childhood.  We spent a lot of time living around Bremen, and Hamburg, right at the top of Germany and not far from Scandinavia proper.  And since Signe released her new Baking book, I've been dying to delve into it to try something.

Originally I'd said that I'd cook a pavlova, and I will at some point, but it's the spiced things that have been drawing me in...  In a quick poll on twitter at 7am this morning, the consensus (of two) was that I should go for the Chelsea buns first.  I must admit the cardamom twists are still calling to me, like a baking siren...

So, Chelsea buns first...  Of course I made a few variations, not to the spicing, but to the fruitiness - just because of my kids, but Signe did give us the option to play with the tea etc.

340ml whole milk
75g butter
550g refined spelt or plain flour (I used 50/50)
60g of golden caster sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp mixed spice
1.5 tsp fine sea salt
20g fresh yeast or 10g of fast action dried yeast
2 medium eggs, beaten

80g currants (actually, I used craisins)
80g sultanas (I used orange river)
1 large mug (at least 250ml) strong Lady Grey Tea (I used mandarin and cranberry)
150g buter
100g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp mixed spice
demerara sugar or natural sugar crystals for sprinkling (optional) (I used cinnamon sugar)

1 jar marmalade (284g)
40g butter
zest of 1 lemon (and lemon juice, optional)

Method (cheekily lifted from Signe's website, though the photo's are my own))
"In a saucepan scald the milk and allow the butter to melt in the hot milk. Set aside to cool to below 50 C otherwise the heat will kill off your yeast.

In a large bowl sieve flour, sugar, dried yeast (if using fresh yeast add a spoonful of sugar to it in a small bowl before adding to the mixture just to check it’s alive), spices, salt and stir thoroughly to distribute all the ingredients.

Once the milk has cooled to below 50 C, add the beaten eggs (and fresh yeast if using), milk and stir for 5 minutes using a large metal spoon. You can knead it for 5 minutes on the table but it’s not absolutely essential with spelt flour I find, and sometimes a good thrashing with a large spoon does the trick, a good way to release any tension! 

Cover the dough and set aside to rise for an hour or so. It should double in size. You can also just leave it in the fridge overnight to bubble and ferment for a slower maturation and slightly more complex flavour. Soak the currants and sultanas in tea (or whisky!) and cover for 1 hour or so or leave overnight. 

Once the dough has doubled in size knock back by kneading for 1 minute or so. Using a rolling pin roll the dough out to 40 cm x 20cm for bunlets rather than big buns. They still end up being about 5cm in diameter so you’re not depriving anyone by making them this size, plus there’s a better yield from all this work!

Drain the fruit of excess liquid. In a separate bowl mix the filling ingredients, minus the soaked fruit. Spread in an even layer across the rectangular dough and then scatter the soaked fruit in another even layer over the filling. Now using a dough scraper or a palette knife gently roll the dough up like a swiss roll and make sure the seal is on the bottom before you start slicing the dough into buns.

Line one very large rectangular tin or two smaller 30 cm x 20cm tins with baking parchment. Using a sharp knife slice the buns into 1 inch discs. Place each bun into the baking tin, allowing a bit of space between each one (they will squish together while proving), once filled, cover the baking tin with cling film and set aside to prove for 30 mins or so until the buns have puffed and doubled in size. Touch one on its lower side, when you remove your finger it should leave an imprint on the dough. Preheat the oven to 220 C 10 minutes before the end of proving.  
When the buns are proved, sprinkle with demerara sugar or sugar crystals and bake on the upper middle shelf of the oven.  Turn the heat down from 220 C to 190 C after 5 minutes of baking so they don’t scorch. Bake a further 20 or so minutes until the buns look golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them.

Remove from the oven and set aside while you warm the marmalade, butter and a splash of water in a small saucepan. If you want a tangier glaze add the juice of a lemon to the mixture. Using a pastry brush generously glaze the buns with your marmalade mixture and then use a microplane zester to add lemon zest on top. You can of course use orange zest or omit the zest altogether but I like the extra citrus note, lifts the buns to something more than the sum of their parts…"

So, amazing, sticky, tart, sweet and spicy - love them - really tangy with the marmalade!  I popped mine back into the oven as it cooled, to allow the glaze to seep into the buns...

You can find this and lots of other yummy recipes in Signe's book >