Paul Hollywood’s Chelsea Buns

I had the afternoon off today after a very long (super duper long and stressful) day at work yesterday.
So after indulging in a spot of Christmas Present purchasing, along with some crafting supplies…… I baked.

I started off another little sourdough recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book, but then I decided to make one of the recipes from the series 3 bake off book that I had eyed up when I first flicked through it. It was also made as part of the Masterclass series after this series of the Great British Bake Off. You can find the recipe here.

First step was to melt the butter with the milk (only until melted, not too hot – you don’t want to kill the little yeasties!)

Make the dough, kneady knead….. then leave to rise for an hour until it goes quite wild! – Note: one of the commenters below (Thanks Richard Juniper!)pointed out to me that in the masterclass episode, Paul actually adds 40g of caster sugar to the dough, which isn’t stated in the recipe either in the book or online. Naughty naughty! This may well be an error in the printed recipe, as I had an issue with another recipe (the doughnuts and their frying temperature), which when I then watched the masterclass did seem to be different to what Paul actually did! I haven’t had chance to test this yet, but once I do I shall update accordingly, or let me know if you find this better! See update below.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe uses dried cranberries, chopped apricots, and sultanas. While the dough was proving, I assembled all the bits of pieces ready to assemble the buns:

Knock back, shape into a rectangle and roll out…. brush with melted butter, sprinkle with zest, then sugar and cinnamon and fruit…

Roll up, slice, arrange in a deep baking tin, and leave to rise again.

Bake, then brush with warm apricot jam..

Make the icing, and drizzle over…

Yum. Yum. Yummy.

I will try not to eat them all in one go…..

Tomorrow, I craft. I have been itching to get my beloved Bernina out for a while. Today I bought some material that I have had my eye on for a while, and have been planning a little something that I have been wanting to make for a while too!

Update 27/11/2012:

I made some more Chelsea buns tonight using the sugar addition (40g caster sugar added to the flour mixture) stated in the Masterclass episode. This time I made sortof a festive variation, using 2tsp of mixed spice instead of cinnamon, and sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, and chopped glace cherries instead of the cranberries and apricots (as I didn’t have any!)

The first proving seemed to look pretty similar, then after the second proving……

A little bit puffier……………….. then I baked them as before, and brushed with some melted butter for added shiny….


Appearance-wise, they don’t look a massive amount different to the others, but texture-wise? Much softer, so definitely worthwhile to add the sugar!

But how disappointed am I in these recipes now?! If I have chance, I still have some of the masterclass recipes on TiVo, so will try and re-watch them and figure out if any others are wrong too!


  1. Natalie Jackson · · Reply

    Hi Mrs M,

    I’m quite new to baking but The GB Bake Off has got me trying all sorts of things. I made these exact Chelsea buns a few days ago but instead of being light and fluffy they were very hard and stodgy.
    As I said I’m quite new to all this so not entirely sure what went wrong. Perhaps the butter+milk combination was a bit too hot and killed the yeast (however it did rise well)…
    Is there anything you could suggest?

    Miss J

    1. It was my first time making them too, as long as they rose, then the yeast should still be active, as it’s the respiration of the yeast that creates the carbon dioxide and thus the rise.

      I allowed the milk/butter mixture to cool for quite a bit before adding it to the yeast, to avoid killing it. And also kneaded for a little longer than stated as it wasn’t all that smooth yet, perhaps I haven’t got the Hollywood technique 😉

      I don’t have a very good warm place in my kitchen, so it sometimes involves step stool/radiator/teatowels in order to tuck it in nice and warm, and an extended proving time before it’s ready.

      I’m not by any means very experienced at this though!

    2. Not sure if that helps? 🙂

  2. They look absolutely delicious!

    1. Thanks love! Perhaps we should set up some sort of monthly challenge with a theme? What do you think?

  3. They look fab!

  4. ohhhhhhh that beautiful

  5. hi yeah my became very hard and stale quite quickly too. when i proved it for the first time and knocked it back it became very elastic and rolling it out into a rectangle was quite difficult? i am not sure what went wrong?! yours looked amazing and bread like. do you have any tips for me please

    thank you

    1. I just did it quite gradually, bit by bit, until it was the right size, trying not to force it too much as it just will resist it.

      1. thank you i will give it another try this week.

  6. hi lindsay

    gave them another try and they turned out nice and soft this time. however on both occasions the 2nd proofing didnt rise that much so dont know what to do. but thanks for the tips.


    1. I tried making them again today, but I made them chocolate and caramel instead. For my second proving, I covered the tin in cling film, and put it on top of a radiator and it worked much better. I also left it a little longer until they were nice and puffy!

      They were fabulous.

  7. mary chaplin · · Reply

    I made Paul’s Chelsea buns for all the family and even for family who were visiting from the USA.
    They went down a treat and were a great success. I have orders to make many, many, more.

    Thank you Paul.

    1. I liked them, but I think I can improve on my technique a bit! I think they hadn’t risen quite enough before baking I think…..

      Today I am having another go… but with a twist!

      Check out my Chocolate and Caramel Chelsea Buns!

  8. Richard Juniper · · Reply

    Hi Lindsay

    I made these bins at the weekend and like Natalie found them a bit stodgy and not as light as a proper Chelsea bin.

    I had a look at the GBBO Masterclass on BBC iPlayer and noticed that Paul included 40g of caster sugar in with the dough. This is not listed in his recipe. Surely an oversight??

    I’ll try again with the sugar and see what happens.

    kind regards


    1. Interesting you say that……

      I haven’t re-watched the chelsea buns masterclass since making them, but I did notice that on the doughnuts one, he states on the masterclass to fry them at 160C, while the book/recipe online says 180C. I did start off doing them at 180C as stated, but had to reduce the temperature to 160C as they were cooking too fast. Once I watched the masterclass and he said that, it all made sense!

      This could in fact explain a lot of the problems people have been having with this recipe, as although they do rise without sugar, those little yeastie beasties will be a whole lot happier with some nice tasty sugar!

      Thanks for that, that’s really helpful, I shall add it to the post!

  9. Richard Juniper · · Reply

    Sorry about the slip of the finger on the keyboard. Of course I meant buns not bins.
    What a twit.

  10. Very useful as after having had a go at the plaited loaf, I now want to try the Chelsea buns. I couldn’t quite work out how to get them bun shaped I think I get it now, she says! I also think I will add the sugar and a few cherries, so here goes! Do you have a link by any chance for the inlayer?

    1. The link to the recipe on the BBC Food website is in the above post, but be careful as the dough recipe is incorrect, it needs 40g of caster sugar adding to the dough, otherwise you may find the texture a bit hard.

      1. Many thanks, I thought there might be a youtube demo or something but I’ve got the bake off book but have added the 40g of sugar as you suggest so again, thanks for that. You would have thought they would have it correct in the book, never mind. Also I’ve added the orange zest to the fruit – note to self – I really must read the words! Dough is now proving!

      2. Oh, I’ve just found a youtube vid and yet another mistake, in the book it says dough in an oiled bowl and on the vid it’s the exact opposite!

      3. You just can’t trust anyone these days!

  11. Wish I’d read this before I made them! Mine are delicious at first, but end up very dry overnight, which spoils them. I’ll have to try again with the sugar.

    1. It is a definite improvement with the sugar added to the dough, although they still don’t last that long….. Although that could be because they are delicious! 😉

      1. Made my second batch the other day and yes again very yummy. I’ve found if left overnight they do go a little hard, but found that a few seconds in the microwave puts them to rights. Also had a go at Mary Berry’s Chocolate Log and that turned out lovely. Today I tried her Apple Tart Tatin – blimey how messy is that to make ha ha, everything in the kitchen so sticky. Turned out ok – I think, have yet to try it. Next on my list is the triple chocolate long and the American Lime pie!

  12. I made these, with the added sugar (not caster, ordinary) and without oiling the bowl for the proving. They are delicious, really soft and fluffy. I had watched the youtube clip with Mary Berry and noticed the discrepancies from the BBC recipe. So as with most new recipes I did a bit of research of other recipes first and came across your website. Thank you so much for the photos and details as this gave me the confidence to try it. I have fantastic first time results and a recipe I’ll use again and again. Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

    p.s I added lemon juice to icing sugar for a touch of zing and used chopped dates and sultanas……extra strong white flour and fresh yeast.

    1. That’s great! Glad you found them useful. I find that sometimes recipes seem really hard from looking at them, then once you bite the bullet and give it a go, they are really not all that bad! Like Choux pastry, actually really simple!

      I also made Chelsea buns yesterday, but my chocolate and caramel variation. I may have just had another one for breakfast. And got chocolate ALL OVER MY FACE. Yum.

      Thanks for commenting, and keep at it, let’s challenge ourselves to something else!

  13. Mama's Gotta Bake · · Reply

    OOoooooo! Must try!

    1. They are tasty! I made some with chocolate and caramel instead and they were even better, but then I do love a bit of chocolate!

  14. Lyn Andrews · · Reply

    I made the chelsea buns today and having read your blog about the 40grams of caster sugar I read through 3 different recipes, all by Paul Hollywood, all different. Apart from the sugar not being in one recipe the amount of butter is different in 2 of the recipes, 25grams in the YouTube video, but 40grams in the book recipe. I did tweet Paul Hollywood to ask which of these was right and he replied that all were okay and they would turn out fine whichever way they were made. Not quite convinced but they do seem to taste very nice

    1. I did try them with the original recipe, using no sugar, and with the 40g. Great improvement in texture with the sugar added.

      I have to say it makes me lose faith in his recipes! Especially having found problems with others too!

  15. Lyn Andrews · · Reply

    Totally agree Lindsay, he is a professional baker and his recipes should all be exactly the same or what is the point in us following them if they vary so much? For people like me who are not experienced bakers I want a recipe that I can just follow and know it’s got a good chance of coming out well!

  16. Paul Santillo · · Reply

    Hi Lindsay, I have made the chelsea buns several times and they have worked out really well, especially with the addition of the 40g of sugar and 40g of butter, I did write to the BBC saying that their recipes did not match the Masterclass, but all they said was that the recipes were tested, which didn’t really answer the question, as you say its not very professional really! And confusing for those who are not that experienced at baking.
    Anyway as I didnt have any cranberries, I use mixed fruit which I soaked in cold tea, this makes the buns much softer with extra flavour, but do dry the fruit before adding as it will be to wet otherwise, also they freeze really well, and the flavour seems to enhance with time in the freezer.
    I also make lardy cake which also freezes well.

    Best regards

    Paul S

    1. Sounds good!

      My favourite version that I have made are some that I made with chocolate and caramel. Yummy.

  17. You can find all of the masterclasses on Netflix now, so you can rewatch that way:)

    1. But yet we are still missing the earliest episodes….. Who knows why.

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