It’s no secret that this quirky writer loves bread in all its glorious forms! And I particularly love coming up with my own variations of well known recipes.
Chelsea buns – love them! I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting with different fillings, and I think I may have come up with a winner. Maraschino cherries and marzipan make for a bun with an almond flavour, and are a little sweeter than ordinary Chelsea buns. I put some marzipan through the dough as well, and this helped to make the buns really moist, and keep fresh for longer too.
You can make your own marzipan – I always do so at Christmas for the Christmas Cake and to make marzipan fruit – but for this recipe I use store bought. A great brand in Australia is Blackwood Lane. They have a marvellous kitchen and baking supplies store in Melbourne where you can buy hard to find baking utensils as well as their famous marzipan. You can also order the marzipan online, and it’s available in supermarkets.
The buns are quite sweet – so feel free to add less sugar or cherries in the filling. I think the marzipan quantities are fine, as you want that lovely “almondy” taste.
250g plain white flour
250g strong white flour
8g table salt
7g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
280g milk, warmed until tepid
1 free-range egg, at room temperature
50g unsalted butter
100g of a 250g block of marzipan, roughly sliced
50g unsalted butter, melted
70g brown sugar
30g raw sugar or Demerara sugar
150g marzipan – the rest of the block
100g Maraschino cherries, drained, reserving the liquid. (Make sure you take the stems off!)
100g sultanas or golden raisins
1 tbls strawberry jam, sieved, mixed with a little warm water
200g icing sugar
Juice of 1/ lemon
Liquid from the Maraschino cherries
Place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, and egg into a large bowl and mix together using an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead in the mixer about for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter and add, with the chopped marzipan, to the dough, mixing until the butter and marzipan is completely combined. This should take 2 or 3 minutes in the mixer.
Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.
Melt the butter and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with both sugars. Chop the 150g marzipan into small pieces and place over the whole dough. Scatter the Maraschino cherries and the sultanas or golden raisins over the dough, making sure you cover all of the dough.
Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.
Line a large baking dish with a piece of baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down.
Cover the dish with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns have risen.
15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.
Remove from the oven, and brush with the strawberry glaze while still warm. Cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, separate them ready for icing.
For the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and enough of the cherry liquid until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon. Go for the rustic look!