Bakewell Chelsea Buns – my Christmas present to you

I make no bones about the shortness of this.

I had such grand designs for sorting this post out , but just like the programme, my vision hasn’t been matched by the hard currency of time, which I lack.

This weekend I’m doing a baking day at Tideswell School of Food in Buxton. The school very sweetly contacted me after Bake Off and asked if I’d be willing to do a day for them, which as they’re a social enterprise and engaged in great food related activities in their community and schools, I was keen to be associated with. My fee for the day is going to the local branch of FareShare, a great food distribution charity, and whose patron is Lorraine Pascale.


So here I am, with a half decorated tree (my job), none of my presents wrapped and with a Friday deadline hanging over me for delivering the medical book I have been writing this year, posting this recipe when I’m not even sure whether anyone still wants it. Why? Well because I said I would, and because we’re going to be doing them on Sunday, except with a twist.

This recipe is not the one I did for Bake Off. As I’ve already said, that was devised for cooking in a tent with unpredictable bread proving for 24 buns, and this version is more suitable for home kitchen cooking. It still delivers, and I only hope the attendees on Sunday like them. If not, as they’re decorated with a halved cherry, a bit more icing, a couple of sultanas per bun and we’ll each have a dozen Rudolph faces for use as Christmas tree decorations.



Bakewell Chelsea Buns


500g strong white bread flour

40g caster sugar

10g dried active yeast (Dove’s farm)

10g salt

250 ml milk at hand heat temperature

60g unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs

Filling  (this makes extra- it is not easy to reduce quantities)

125g soft butter

125g caster sugar

125g ground almonds

25g plain flour

2 eggs

2 tbsps amaretto

1 tsp almond extract

200g sour cherries chopped

2 tablespoons raspberry liquer (Chambord I use)


egg beaten with salt for eggwash

250g fondant icing sugar, sieved and mixed with 2-4 tbsps water

6-7 unglazed glace cherries, halved

Makes 12-15 buns

Oven 180 degrees C fan

Cherry Bakewell Chelsea Buns- Method

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub in the butter, then add the eggs and milk to make a sticky dough
  3. Knead on the unfloured counter for 10 minutes until smooth and transparent when pulled and held to the light. Then lightly flour surface and form the dough into a ball. Alternatively use a food processor with a dough hook for about 5 minutes of mixing at medium speed.
  4. Return the ball to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave until doubled in size (at least 1 hour)
  5. Make the almond paste by beating the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Then stir in the almonds and flour. Add the eggs one at a time then the almond extract and Amaretto.  Chill until ready to use if not using immediately.
  6. Chop the sour cherries and leave to absorb the raspberry liquer.
  7. When the dough has risen, turn it out and then roll out to a rectangle 30 x 40cm on a lightly floured surface. Spread half to three quarters of the almond paste thinly over the dough to the edges and then scatter the cherries over the top right to the edges but leaving one long edge clear for 2cm. Roll up the dough from the long edge opposite to this one so that it looks like a Swiss roll and using a pastry brush dipped in water, moisten the opposite edge and press to seal.
  8. Cut off the ends each side to neaten and then cut the roll into 12 equal pieces each around 2-3cm thick.
  9. Turn each piece on its end, flatten slightly until no more than 3cm high and then arrange on a baking tray.
  10. Glaze with eggwash
  11. Set oven to 180 degrees C fan and leave to prove covered lightly with a towel in a warm place for 30 minutes by which time they should have roughly doubled in size.
  12. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown (if browning too quickly then cover with foil/parchment).  The buns should be firm underneath.
  13. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  14. Mix the fondant icing sugar with the water and then pipe over the cooled buns in irregular zigzag strokes. Decorate with a halved glade cherry.

13 responses to “Bakewell Chelsea Buns – my Christmas present to you

  1. Thank you!!! I cannot wait to make these at the weekend or sooner, these were my fave item of the SERIES.

  2. Wish you a successful Buxton baking day, a Merry Christmas, and lots of royalties. Thank you for everything in 2012.

  3. Much appreciated, thank you. Hope you get everything sorted out for Christmas and have a successful baking day.

  4. Thank you, Danny. I love the generosity of bloggers sharing recipes and I’m going to give these a go.

  5. Hi Danny, you sound madly busy, but baking IS therapy, so thanks you and have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy 2013….hope all goes well in Tideswell, great charity.

  6. These look wonderful – chelsea buns were always my favourites as a kid. Good luck with the baking day!

    • Thanks Sarah. Yet again it was another new baking-related experience for me, and one of the few things I’ve done where at the end of the day I was literally rendered speechless from all the talking!

  7. Am I being stupid here – it says in step 7 to spread half to three quarters of the almond paste over the dough, but I can’t see where it uses the rest of it?
    These look and sound delicious though, and I’ll definitely be making them!

    • Hi Liz, no you’re not being stupid. I have written that not all the paste is used in the buns- it’s due to having to scale down from 24 buns and also that it partly depends on how big you roll the dough out and how much paste you want. There is simply no easier way to scale down that I can think off, since half isn’t quite enough filling for my taste and the people that have eaten them.
      You can of course use the spare almond paste in a Pithiviers with (bought) puff pastry and some pears.

  8. Thank you for posting the recipe. Your Buns looked so good on TGBBO. I hope to make them soon

  9. Well I put these together yesterday & left them in our chilly garage overnight where they very slowly proved, then baked them this morning.
    They were absolutely delicious – thanks so much for sharing!

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