Chelsea BunsPhoto Credit : Adam Detour | Food Styling: Catrine Kelty | Prop Styling: Darcy Hammer/Anchor Artists
These currant-studded cinnamon buns (known as Chelsea buns) are an 18th-century recipe whose origin is said to trace back to a London bakery called the Chelsea Bun House. This version comes from Historic Williamsburg’s online recipe database—a great source if you’re interested in early American cooking. Note that these buns look especially pretty because they’re layered with filling, folded, rolled out, then layered again, a technique you could also apply to regular cinnamon buns.
Watch for a hearthside cooking demonstration of Chelsea buns at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on season 7 of Weekends with Yankee
FOR THE DOUGH
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 large eggs
1¼ cups milk
2 packages (11/2 tablespoons) instant yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
FOR THE FILLING
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
¾ cup dried currants (for added flavor, plump them in brandy before using), divided
²⁄3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
FOR THE GLAZE
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup milk
In a large bowl, use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like wet sand. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, yeast, salt, and sugar. Whisk until evenly combined.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until it all comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky, 4 to 5 minutes. If it continues to stick, sprinkle it with a little flour and knead some more. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set it aside to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Flour your work surface. Gently punch the dough down, then roll it out into a rectangle approximately 18 by 12 inches, oriented horizontally. Use a butter knife to mark three equal sections in the dough: left, center, and right.
Spread 4 tablespoons softened butter over the center and right sections of the dough. Sprinkle half of the cur-rants over the buttered area, then half the brown sugar and half the cinnamon. Carefully lift the left section of the dough and fold it over the center section, gently pressing it down. Now take this section and fold it over the right section, then press down gently. You now have a rectangle one third the size you started with but three times as thick.
Lightly flour your work surface and orient your dough horizontally again. Roll the dough out as you did before until it is as large as the original rectangle. Now spread the butter, currants, sugar, and cinnamon over the whole surface, leaving only a thin border on top. Starting at the bottom edge, roll the dough up into a log. When you get to the top, pinch the border edge to seal.
Take a sharp knife and proceed to slice the log crosswise into individual buns about 11/2 inches thick. Lay them on a baking sheet about an inch apart,set them in a warm spot, and let them rise until nicely puffed, 30 to 45 minutes. As they rise, the buns should touch each other.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375°F. When the buns are done proofing, bake them until golden brown and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the buns cool, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar until smooth, then remove from heat.
When the buns are only slightly warm, spoon the glaze over all. Cool and enjoy.