Fresh From The Oven – Chelsea Buns

I’ve been dipping in and out of the Fresh From the Oven group for a while now, and am thrilled to be hosting the October challenge.  Here’s the recipe I’ve suggested.  Why not have a go too?

I’ve got fabulous memories of making these during a school cookery lesson aged about 13, which, incidentally, is the age of my eldest daughter now. It was the first time I’d made a yeasted recipe on my own, and I had an amazing sense of achievement having finished them. It wasn’t as if I didn’t cook at home – I was always in the kitchen helping my mum or my nan, but it was the satisfaction of having made a family favourite, all by myself, that I still remember today.

When I was thinking about which recipe I would use I looked at my old school cookery lesson recipe and Liz Herbert’s excellent book Bread, which is published by Simon & Schuster for the Women’s Institute (of which I am a proud member). The following recipe is a combination of the two. I hope you have as much fun making them as I did.

PS The final addition of the icing was a request from the children!

Chelsea Buns

225g (8oz) strong white bread flour

25g (1oz) caster sugar

¼ tsp salt

25g (1oz) softened butter – this is for the dough

1 ½ tsp fast action dried yeast

1 medium egg, beaten

90ml (3 fl oz) warm semi-skimmed milk

25g (1 oz) butter really softened, but not melted – this is for the filling

65g (2 ½oz) light muscovado sugar

115g (4oz) dried fruit


Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid as usual). Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough.

Knead until smooth. It’s at this point I remember how much I love my KitchenAid, and make myself a coffee.

Cover and prove until doubled in size. I find that if I’m in a hurry the airing cupboard can do this in around half an hour, and I’ve had no adverse side effects from quick proving so far.

Generously butter and line a 7″ square tin. Make sure it’s not a loose bottomed one, or you’ll get problems later on and loose your filling.

Flour your work surface, and roll out the dough, (no need to knock it back) to a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. If you get the edges as square as you can it will help to make your buns look even, but I quite like the squiffy homemade look. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m damn well sticking to it!

Spread the softened butter as evenly as you can over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar and the dried fruit on top, and gently press it into the butter.

Now, roll up the dough along the long edge, as though you were making a Swiss Roll (and don’t tell me you haven’t!) Seal the edge. I find that smoothing it down with the flat side of a paring knife can help here, but don’t get too ocd over this bit.

Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.

Place the buns, cut side down, into the buttered and lined tin, and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, and they have all joined together into one big Chelsea Bun muddle.

I baked mine in a 180° oven, for about 15 minutes, but I’ve got a particularly hot and fast cooking oven. You know your oven better than I do, and I suspect most of you will need to set the oven slightly higher, and /or cook for a little longer. Some recipes suggest covering the buns with parchment or foil, but the fan is so strong in my oven this has never worked for me.

Once cooked, cool on a wire rack, and eat them as soon as you dare. Or, of course, if you’re my kids, cover them in icing first.

Fresh from the Oven March Challenge

March’s Fresh From the Oven challenge came thanks to  Jo of and the Hairy Bikers “Mum Knows Best”.  I’d been meaning to buy their book for a while now, and so took this as an omen! 

Having read the recipes I was initially confused, as the link to the Fresh From the Oven Blog stated 600 – 700g flour, whereas the recipe in the Hairy Bikers’ book stated 400g.  Well, I could hardly do anything else but bake both could I?  The 400g dough was a little sticky, and the 600g very dry after the first stage, and after proving the 400g dough certainly looked better (on the left hand side).

The 600g dough was very hard to roll out and fell apart very easily when I was plaiting it.  The 400g dough, although very sticky when it was made, was lovely to roll out.  Having had the problems with the 600g dough first I decided to roll out the 400g dough to half a cm thick instead of the recommended 1 cm.  This made life much, much easier, and I would stick to this depth next time I make it.

I decided to leave the dough for an extra 20 minutes or so second proving as the Kringel looked quite squashed after the plaiting stage.  You can in the picture below that the 600g dough was already starting to unravel.

In the oven, the Kringel cooked much, much faster than the 25 minutes at 200°C stated, to the extent that it was burning after only 15 minutes.  There was also a great deal of butter which oozed out of the dough.  Next time, I shall fold half of the butter into the dough, puff pastry style before spreading the rest and adding the raisins and sugar and cook at 170°C.  Hopefully this will help to avoid this problem. I’ll let you know if it works.

Once out of the oven the Kringel took about half an hour to cool down before I poured over the chocolate icing.  The picture in the Hairy Bikers book suggests the quantity given should provide a moderate covering, but I found there was plenty, perhaps 3/4 quantity would be enough?

I would echo Claire’s idea  to adapt the recipe by adding cinnamon to the sugar and replacing the chocolate topping with fondant icing to make a raisin Danish type version. 

Of course after making the Kringel you’ll have 2 egg whites left over, and whilst your first thought might be to make some meringue, why not try homemade marshmallow instead?  It’s not as scary as you might think. (See recipe below.)

Those of you who follow us on twitter will know that March was pretty disastrous as we’ve all been ill and at one point I was fairly sure I wouldn’t be able to take part this month.  I’m so glad I managed to make the Kringel, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I do.

Estonian Kringel – The Hairy Bikers, Mum Knows Best


40g fresh yeast (or two sachets dried)

1 tbs sugar

250ml milk, lukewarm

2 egg yolks

400g plain flour

50g butter, melted


100g butter

3 handfuls of raisins

10 tsp sugar


150g dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids)

75g butter


Mix the yeast and sugar in a bowl.  Add the lukewarm milk and egg yolks, then mix in the flour and melted butter and knead well.  Shape into a ball, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes.  Pre heat the oven to 200°C.  Knock back the dough and roll out to a rectangle to a thickness of 1cm.  Spread the soft butter evenly over the dough and sprinkle with the raisins and then the sugar.  Roll up the dough like a swiss roll, and cut in half lengthways.  Plait the dough, lifting each half over the other in turn.  Finally shape into a B shape and transfer to a buttered baking tray.  Bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

Whilst the dough is baking, melt the chocolate and butter together.  Once the Kringel is out of the oven and cool drizzle over the chocolate sauce.

Marshmallow (adapted from James Martin, Desserts)

450g granulated sugar

1 tbs liquid glucose

17 sheets supercook gelatin (I specify not by brand but by that size!)

2 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract (if you want bright white marshmallow leave this out)

icing sugar and cornflour, mixed 50:50 for dusting (about 1oz each)

a lamington tin or similar baking dish, approximately 20 x 30 x 5cm


Put the granulated sugar, glucose and 200ml cold water into a large, heavy based saucepan.  Don’t worry about being too accurate with the glucose, I usually squirt it straight into the pan from the tube rather than worrying about using measuring spoons and getting glucose all over me!  Gradually bring to the boil (making sure that the sugar is completely dissolved) then, using a sugar thermometer bring up to 127°C. 

Separate both the eggs and beat the egg white until stiff.  The KitchenAid once again comes into its own for this. 

Whilst the sugar is coming to the correct temperature, soak the gelatine in 140ml cold water. I use a lamington tin for this, and turn the sheets over after about 5 minutes to make sure that the gelatine is completely soaked.   

Once the sugar has reached 127°C add the gelatine and the remaining soaking water.  BE CAREFUL here, as the mixture will spit, and sugar burns are severe.  I wear oven gloves here as a precaution, and suggest you do the same.  Sit the mixture with a wooden spoon to make sure that the gelatine is thoroughly combined.  If you want pink marshmallow, add a couple of drops of pink / red liquid food colouring at this point.  You could transfer the sugar and gelatine mixture into a metal jug to help with the next stage, but I’ve found it’s just as easy pouring straight from the saucepan.

You need to move quickly now, pour the hot sugar mixture in a steady stream into the beaten egg whites, with the KitchenAid on medium speed. It’s important to do this as quickly as possible to retain the heat from the sugar, as this is what cooks the egg white.  Add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until the mixture holds its shape, which will take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.  If you listen carefully, you’ll notice a change in the sound of the mixer when it’s nearly ready.

Whilst the marshmallow is mixing, prepare your tin.  My non-stick lamington tin works really well but for any tin you’re not completely confident about the non-stick make sure you oil it now.  Mix together about and ounce each of the icing sugar and cornflour, and using a small sieve, thoroughly dust the sides and base of your tin.

As soon as the marshmallow is ready, pour quickly into the tin, and smooth with a spatula / palette knife.  Set in the fridge for about an hour, or if you’ve no room in the fridge it will set happily at room temperature, it just takes a little longer.

Once the marshmallow is set, turn out onto a board dusted with the icing sugar and cornflour mix.  Make sure you’ve a bowl handy with the rest of the mix.  Turn out the marshmallow onto the board, and cut into strips.  Dip the edges of the strips into the dusting mixture, and then cut again into squares, dipping once again to make sure the pieces remain separate.

The marshmallow will keep in an airtight box for at least a week (we’ve never managed longer).

Emily’s Pizza

We make a lot of pizza in our house.  My favourite recipe for the dough is a very simple one from Jamie At Home (I make half a quantity for the 4 of us which is more than enough).  I always have mozzarella in the fridge and batches of my tomato sauce in the freezer.  This way we can have a quick but healthy tea in no time at all.

I’d been spending a lot of time practising my food photography with some baking I’d done, and Emily, our youngest daughter (aged 4 ) asked if she could take some pictures of her pizza.  I suggested that we write a blog about her making it, so here it is.  The following few lines are Emily’s words, some with spelling help, and some without!  

Emily’s Blog

Emily loves pizza. I love making pizza.  I love it so much and I like making it too.  It looks like snow. When I put the sweetcorn on, it looked like yellow snow.       wegtrryt ge4edgtryh d1w 1qd1er4q51qfqr ty7o0zzzz

I always make dough in my KitchenAid.  My dear husband thought I’d never use it when I bought it 2 years ago but it’s been in constant use ever since, and as I’m unable to knead dough very well by hand (due to an old injury) the KitchenAid is an absolute godsend.  The dough usually rises well in our kitchen, but my tip for those of you who are as impatient as me is to cover the bowl in clingfilm and stick it in the airing cupboard for about an hour.

While the dough is proving start preparing your pizza toppings so you can throw everything together quickly just before you put it in the oven.  We tend to be rather conservative with our toppings, but have recently discovered that Pepperdews and veg make for a great pizza.

Once the dough has risen, divide into portions (half Jamie quantity makes 4 large or 8 small sized pizzas) and roll out as thin as you can manage.  I find it’s best to use either a marble or a non-stick rolling-pin for this and DON’T flour your worktop.  As the dough is so stretchy, it helps if it slightly sticks to the worktop.  Just keep lifting and turning the dough as you roll it out and you should be fine. Jamie suggests leaving the dough to prove for a further 20 minutes or so, but we’ve used it straight the way with no problems, it just makes a thinner crust pizza that way.

Pre-heat your baking tray in as hot an oven as you dare.  Experience here demands that I remind you to make sure you check the maximum temperature your tray can be used at (oops!).

Cover the dough thinly with your tomato sauce.  Now this bit is important.  If your sauce is thick enough and you have the oven temperature high enough you’ll be OK, but runny sauce makes for a soggy pizza, so if your sauce is thinner than tomato puree stick it in a saucepan and reduce it until it is.  It’s a hassle I know but you’ll thank me for it later.  The advantage of using my tomato sauce from the freezer is that as it defrosts in the fridge, the bowl containing the bag of tomato sauce gradually collects a pool of tomatoey water which can be discarded, thickening the sauce for you.

We use a variety of toppings depending on what we fancy and what’s available.  If we want to go posh we get parma ham (Hannah’s favourite) or sometimes it’s just cheese and tomato.  You can use whatever you want, but make sure you’ve got everything chopped and to hand before you add the tomato sauce.  If the pizza is waiting too long before being cooked  you’ll get soggy pizza no matter how thick your sauce was to start with.

On this occasion, Emily chose to make “Sweetcorn Mountain” pizza.  Emily said she was making mountain shapes out of the sweetcorn and that the mozzarella was the snow on the top of the mountains.

Put in the oven, as hot as your oven and/or baking sheet will allow and bake for about 10 minutes.  Now, ovens vary so much it is impossible to give an exact timing, so the best plan is to look at it after 8 minutes or so. If it helps, mine usually go in at about 200C for 10 minutes.

Tomato Sauce – makes about 10 batches

1 head of celery

500g carrots

4 or 5 red peppers

5 onions

6 tins tomatoes

1 tube tomato puree

Worcester sauce, few drops

Chop the onions, celery, carrots and peppers up into very small dice.  I usually use the food processor for speed.  Sweat the vegetables in some olive oil in a covered pan on a low heat for about half an hour.  They should be translucent and not browned.

Add the tins of tomatoes, tomato puree and a few drops of Worcester sauce. If you’ve got any leftover red wine it can be added at this stage.  Season with salt and lots of black pepper and leave to simmer for about an hour.  If you’ve been diligent and chopped everything up very small, you coud just leave to cool and freeze in portions at this step, but as I use this sauce for everything from pasta sauce on its own to spaghetti bolognaise and pizzas I usually blitz up in the liquidiser before portioning up and freezing.  The sauce will keep for 3 months in the freezer.  I find this an excellent way of not only increasing the vegetable intake of my girls, but also using up any leftover veg that’s hiding in the fridge.

Fresh From The Oven February Challenge

This month I’m actually writing my blog as I’m doing the challenge. I’ve had a couple of problems already, so I’m really not confident about the outcome on this one, but we’ll soon see.

The February challenge comes courtesy of the fabulous Claire Sutton of and is a no knead bread. I liked the sound of this straight away, as it will encourage me to think ahead more.  I love making bread but am often foiled by lack of organisation, in that I only think about making some when I’m already hungry!

The recipe sounds easy enough.

The Mix

•15oz Strong White bread flour – it works best with all white I think
•¼ tsp instant easibake yeast (out of a sachet)
•1 tsp table salt
Stir together well then add 10.5 fl oz of lukewarm water (a mugful)

Slosh it round into a gooey lump of dough with a fork

Leave in a big bowl and cover with cling film or put the bowl in a bin bag
Leave it in kitchen for 16-18 hours – or more if you forget.

The 16hr Sloosh

Use a dough scraper/cutter or your fingers, to scrape the wet porridgy dough away from the sides, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking, and shuffle it back into a nice round shape. Don’t be tempted to knead it.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 2 more hours.

The Bake

Preheat oven to 200-220 and put in a lightly oiled Le Creuset or other large cast iron casserole with a lid on until the oven and the pan are super hot.

Again use the scraper and a good sprinkle of flour to detach the dough from the bowl without puncturing it’s airy goodness. Then quick as you can, without losing the heat from the oven and pan, tip the dough onto one hand then flop it into the hot pan the right way up again and put the lid back on and get it back in the oven immediately.

•Bake for 30 minutes lid-on
•Then cook for 10-12 minutes more, lid-off until golden brown

If it’s not hollow sounding on the bottom put it back in, without it’s tin for an extra 5 minutes. Tip out and cool well before trying to slice.

Claire’s helpful instructions and tips immediately alerted me that not all was well as my mixture was more like ordinary dough than the gooey one she had described, but I knew I had the quantities correct so I persevered. (Knowing I only had time for one go at this challenge my OCDness took over and I double checked everything as I was working.)  It remains to be seen, but I think my crucial mistake may have been in the choice of bowl in which to prove the dough. I have used my trusty old tupperware bowl for lots of proving before, but never so long as this recipe demands. What I failed to anticipate was that the amount of gas produced by the proving process would actually blow the lid off the bowl at some point overnight. It was thus that I came downstairs this morning expecting a lovely proving loaf to be met my the lid some way away from the bowl, and a much dried out dough with a pronounced dried out crust waiting for me.

I dutifully slooshed the dough as described, but I have to say it was more playdough than porridge. As I write it’s baking in the oven and so although I have persevered I’ve no great hopes for this one…..

Well, the first half an hour cooking is over, and my first peak at the loaf suggests that I might just have got away with it. It’s a little eccentric in its shape perhaps, but does at least appear to have risen OK….

The final results

Wow, despite my misgivings on how things were progressing it actually worked! 

 The crust on the bread was so crisp, just how I like it.  I’ll definitely be making this one again.  Thanks Claire for a really fun challenge this month, and for improving my bread making knowledge and confidence.