04 May 2012

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chelsea buns are what I make (or call what I make) when my traditional English baking genes are stirring. Other times, I might make (or call what I make) ordinary American cinnamon rolls. Of course, cinnamon is optional in a Chelsea bun but not so in a cinnamon roll. And currants, or other dried fruits, are optional in a cinnamon roll but not so in a Chelsea bun. Unlike the thick glaze on a cinnamon roll, the thin glaze on a Chelsea bun is invisible except for the shine.

Though the original London shop that started Chelsea buns in the 18th century is long gone, Chelsea buns are alive and well and being produced in vast quantities by the beloved 91-year-old Cambridge institution, Fitzbillies. Fitzbillies was closed briefly last year before being rescued by UK food writer Tim Hayward. One can actually place an order at fitzbillies.com and get Chelsea buns by post.

Back in the day when I tried to "health" everything up, I used a fraction of the butter and sugar in the filling. Then I decided to just go for it! I know 3/4 cup sounds like an awful lot of brown sugar, but it's really just one tablespoon each--not that bad. I still make most things with far less sugar than is typical, but this is a splurge. 

So which is it going to be for you--Chelsea buns or cinnamon rolls?

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls / www.delightfulrepast.com

No-Knead Overnight Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls or Chelsea Buns

(Makes 12)


4 dip-and-sweep cups (20 ounces/566 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk, microwaved 1 to 2 minutes in 2-cup glass measure
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and added to heated milk
3 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten


3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounce/18 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons cinnamon (optional in Chelsea buns)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (for Chelsea buns only)
Pinch salt
1/2 to 1 cup currants and/or other finely chopped dried fruit
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, softened completely

Glaze for Chelsea Buns

3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Brown Butter Glaze for Cinnamon Rolls

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter
1 firmly packed cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Start rolls the day before. In large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk, butter and eggs, and stir until thoroughly combine. Stir slowly for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup flour a half cup at a time. The dough will be elastic and sticky.

2 Leave dough in the bowl. Using reserved 1 cup flour, flour hands and sprinkle some flour over the dough. Lightly squish the dough around in the bowl with one hand (not really kneading!), adding a little of the reserved flour at a time. Save about 1 tablespoon of the flour for shaping the rolls. Gently shape the dough into a smooth ball (it will be sticky). Place in lightly oiled bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure so I can easily see when the dough has doubled); lightly oil surface. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (took a little over an hour in cold oven).

3 Punch down dough by pressing down in center and folding in edges; cover an let relax in bowl for 20 minutes. In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour (save 1/2 teaspoon for the currants), cinnamon (and, for Chelsea buns, lemon zest) and salt. Put the currants or other dried fruit in another small bowl and stir in that little bit of flour, separating any currants that are clumped together. Grease with soft butter or cooking spray a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.

4 Turn dough out onto lightly floured (from the reserved flour) surface, and pat out to 12x16-inch rectangle. Spread on softened butter, leaving 1/2-inch border, then spread on the filling. If using the currants or other dried fruit, sprinkle evenly over the filling. Starting with the long edge nearest you, roll (not too tightly) away from you; seal edge by pinching together. Measure and see that the roll is 18 inches long, not counting the ragged ends (the roll will lengthen as you roll it). 

5 Using dental floss or serrated knife, trim away the ragged ends and cut roll into twelve 1 1/2-inch slices. Put in prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, and then place in refrigerator overnight.

6 Remove rolls from refrigerator 2 hours before baking. During last 15 minutes of that time, preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes.

7 For Chelsea buns, prepare glaze during last 5 minutes of baking time. In small pan, heat sugar and milk to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for a minute. Brush hot glaze on hot rolls the minute they come out of the oven.

8 For cinnamon rolls, prepare glaze during last 10 minutes of baking time. In small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Spread over warm rolls. 


Marina@Picnic at Marina said...

Chelsea buns for me, I love lemon zest! :)

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan` said...

Not fair. Which is to say, very fair fare. I love Cinnamon rolls -- Chelsea cousins or not. So how can I keep my distance from bread in all its conjugations when you put something like this up there. You call it an indulgence, but for me it's worse than that. When I DO eat bread in some form it is invariably slathered with butter (partners in crime, b & b). Cinnamon rolls were made to be a sponge for butter. This food is so dangerous that I haven't eaten it since moving to MN 12 years ago! 5 clever cleavers, chef!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Marina. There are few things that aren't better with a little lemon zest! I love orange and lime zest, too.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I'm always so honored when I get 5 cleavers, Sully! The butter flavor really comes through in the brown butter frosting.

Cranberry Morning said...

Sadly, I can't eat either. But those in the photo look amazing, and just like the ones my mom used to bake every Saturday morning! She always put cinnamon in hers.

You'll have to do a post on those egg cozies you told me about. I'd love to see them...or maybe you have and I missed it?

Lionel says 'hi.' He's glad that springtime is here so that the windows can be open. Nothing he likes better than lounging on the window seat in front of an open window, in order to see and hear and smell all the goings-on outdoors.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Don't worry, I'll come up with a gluten-free version one of these days. Lionel would like my house--I'm a fresh-air-fiend who has windows open in any kind of weather, even if it means bundling up in a blanket.

Richard Sheppard said...

These buns look so delicious Jean! My mother in law will be visiting in about a month so this will be a nice treat while she is here. Can't wait! I confess though that I made your pancakes this morning (with added buttermilk) YUM!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you! I hope your mother-in-law likes my recipe. I'm thinking of making the pancakes for Meatless Monday dinner tomorrow evening.

Charles said...

Omg - Chelsea buns!!! I didn't have these in so long, and I even forgot they existed to be honest. That's a real blast from the past! I used to love these sticky delights... I'd unravel them and chomp them up. Your buns look amazing Jean - I wonder how fresh the mail-order buns would be... or how many preservatives they'd have to keep them fresh?!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

That's what I'm wondering, Charles, since they are best the day they are baked. But I'd sure like to pop in to the shop one day!

Bonnie Marie said...

Yummy - reminds me of our family favorites from a local bakery in Pismo. I will make this recipe this weekend:) Thank you, Jean

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Bonnie Marie! I hope they turn out to be a match for your bakery favorites.

Anonymous said...

This recipe looks so delicious, I can't wait to try it! May I add you to my blog's blogroll? I can't promise you get much traffic from me, or any at all, not yet, at least...I just started out.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Of course you may add me to your blogroll--thank you! Hope my recipe turns out well for you. And all the best with your blog!

Anonymous said...

I've been away for a bit, but wanted to say how wonderful those cinnamon rolls looked! So lovely, I believe I will be craving them all day!


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn! Now I'M going to be craving them all day, and I don't have enough flour to make them!

Anonymous said...

Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite things and I can't wait to try this recipe. It does sound like a lot of brown sugar but I think if you are going to make something the right way, just go ahead. Just don't eat 12 of them. LOL

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Gretchen, thanks! I hope the recipe turns out well for you.

Dianna said...

I'm totally confused! In step 4, you said to roll the bread out to 12x16 inches and spread the soft butter but to leave a 12 inch border? Don't you mean a 1 or 2 inch border?

After you roll out your loaf you also mention it should be 18 inches long not counting the sloppy edges. But your original dimensions don't say to roll it out to 18 inches plus.

Obviously I'm no baker but this recipe caught my eye and sounds pretty easy...I hate kneading bread...lol!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Dianna, thank you soooo much for pointing those things out. I try very hard to give very clear directions, but I was obviously asleep at the keyboard the day I posted this! It should have said "1-inch border" and I should have pointed out that the roll lengthens as you roll it up so it ends up being longer than the 16 inches you started with. I've made those corrections. Thanks again! Let me know how they turn out for you.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Dianna, oops, did it again! It is 1/2-inch border!

Aidan M said...

Hi there Jean
I just made a batch of your wonderful cinnamon buns -
Holy guacamole! Talk about delicious ... having to ration ourselves here.

Thanks a million for posting the recipe,

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Aidan, thank you so much for letting me know they turned out well for you! Do try more of my recipes and let me know how you like them.

Jessie said...

Hello Jean!

A question about preparing these to freeze! Would it be better to try freeze the chelsea roll or the slices (before baking)? I'd like to prepare them now, freeze and over New Year's when we are with the In-Laws, be able to bring them out, and bake fresh!

What would you recommend?


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jessie, freezing is fine. I'd just place the slices in the buttered baking dish, cover it tightly with foil, move them from freezer to refrigerator the day before you want to bake them, and proceed as usual. Hope they turn out well for you!

Unknown said...

I also thought cinnamon rolls were American, but maybe not...here's what Wikipedia says about them: "in Sweden, the country of its presumed origin, the cinnamon roll takes the name of kanelbulle (literally 'cinnamon bun'). Since 1999, October 4 has been promoted as 'kanelbullens dag' (Cinnamon Roll Day)."

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Unknown. "Kanelbullens Dag" is a day I can get behind!

Hali said...

I've never had a Chelsea bun before! Thanks for the quick history lesson and of course the delicious recipe! :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Hali. I love yeast dough!

April J Harris said...

I love both Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls, Jean, but I have a particular soft spot for Chelsea Buns. Coincidentally, my husband and I just visited Fitzbillies in Bridge Street in Cambridge when we were visiting our son and his partner at Christmastime. We shared one of their Chelsea Buns and oh my it was good! Your recipes sound fantastic, and I'm featuring this post at the Hearth and Soul Link Party this week. Thank you so much for all your support! Have a lovely week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

April, thank you so much. AND for featuring my post! I'm glad you were able to visit Fitzbillies!