Was the Chelsea Bun the Victorian Cronut of its time ?


I could not sleep tonight, one of those sleepless nights when the harder you try, the less you manage to nod off. I am an extremely early riser but this was too early for my usual routine and I decided to bake something for a night-time breakfast….


There is an added bonus because I love to work with yeast….


Chelsea buns are such iconic old English pastries created by the Chelsea Bun House in Victorian times and they remind me of Christmas, Charles Dickens and London … time to treat myself and indulge now ….. So just out of the oven are these lovely, mini Chelsea Buns loaded with a mix of grated local citrus. I have not eaten them for a while and apparently crowds lined up the old London streets to get hold of them as they do for the cronut today. I have a feeling that sleepless people may be baking old-fashioned cronuts at night in centuries to come and write about its historical appearance in the 21 century ! ….Of course I cannot describe the magnificent smell that has filled the whole house but I am sure you can imagine…. And the best way to eat a chelsea bun is straight out of the oven ! No need for butter, just as they are….



This recipe makes 8 medium buns or 10 to 12 mini ones depending on the size.

You will need :

200g strong flour
10g dried yeast
30 ml milk mixed with 30 ml water warmed up but not hot.
1 egg
50g butter, melted
25g caster sugar
60g mixed dried fruit of your choice. I used raisins.

Sieve the flour into the bowl.
Add the yeast.
Make a well in the centre of the bowl.
Add the warm milk and water.
Add the beaten egg and melted butter.
Knead together to form a soft sticky dough.
Cover and allow to prove in a warm place for half an hour.

Roll out the bun into a rectangle about 30 cm by 10 cm,

Brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Roll up like a Swiss roll.
Brush with butter.
Cut up in slices 3 cm wide.
Place on a baking sheet and cover to allow to prove for half an hour.
Bake in a hot oven 220 C for 15 to 20 minutes.
As soon as you take them out brush liberally with bun wash made with 30g water,
30g full-fat milk, 60g caster sugar. Heat together and bring to a boil. Keep on a constant simmering boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use while still warm.

Straight out of the oven …

The Chelsea Bun House, 1839

6 responses to “Was the Chelsea Bun the Victorian Cronut of its time ?”

  1. Delicious! πŸ™‚

    1. Gorgeous when they re fresh !

  2. Wow! Looks amazing. I always have difficulty raising the flour. For some reason, my dough never rises….

    1. You need Luke warme water with the yeast and to leave it to prove and rise in a warming place. Use dry yeast. It’s difficult to go wrong with it !

  3. Oh, how I have a weakness for cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting but these sound wonderful!

    1. they are lighter without the cream cheese and good in a different way πŸ™‚

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