Chelsea Buns – A Quintessential Classic

My family has made chelsea buns since the beginning of time.  Or at least since Noah landed.

Please don’t tell me you’ve never had a chelsea bun.  Chelsea buns put those mass produced knock-offs at the mall to shame.

My mother bought me my own copy of Country Fair Prize Winning Recipes a bazillion years ago, and it is now out of print.

This is my original cookbook.  Was my original cookbook.  Many moons ago, E1 took it upon himself to disassemble it.  I could pretty easily get it rebound, but this has a more authentic, rustic, cheap-O feel to it.

This is the page we need.  It has been shown much love.  Some weirdos have named this recipe Cinnamon Nut Rolls.  They are obviously aware of their error, however, since they mention that others do call this bit of deliciousness by its proper name.

Today, I made a double batch, therefore necessitating two 9X13 pans.  I wonder – will the culinary world in North America ever go over to the dark metric side?  I doubt it.

These pans, too, have seen much love.

Here’s the corn syrup you are going to need.  I did not buy it like this.  I did, however, crack the plastic bottles they now come in and end up having to put it in this.

About 1/4 cup of corn syrup in each pan.  Metal (or at least stove top safe) pans are a must.  I will show you why in a minute.

Then the brown sugar and butter.  It is important to keep the amount of corn syrup equal to the amount of brown sugar you put in the pan.  If the ratio gets too far off, you can end up with taffy on the top of your chelsea buns.  And, while tasty, it’s really hard on your dental work.

Heat the ingredients slowly on the stove top.  Keep the heat low so the butter and sugar don’t burn.  And be sure to use an oven mitt when holding onto the pan.  Heat transfers, you know.

Next, you’ll need some oil, water, and honey.  Like this nifty, unique, and one of a kind bottle?  Wanna know how you can get your own?

Pour hot oil back into the bottle.  Then be sure to rush it out to a snow bank to keep oil from spewing all over your kitchen.

Them them all into a microwave safe measuring cup and pop them in the microwave.  Be sure not to get the mixture too hot, since that will kill the yeast.  If it does get too warm, pop in a couple ice cubes.  The small amount of extra water can be compensated for in the end product with a little more flour.  I’d recommend starting out with about a minute to nuke a single batch worth of liquids.

When you give the mixture a stir, you get pretty designs.  Awwww

Meanwhile, back at the mixer, whip together three cups of  flour, salt, and yeast.  With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the warm water.

Let the mixer do its thing for a few minutes.  Yes, waiting can be hard.

You will end up with something like this.  At first, it will be a little tough to the touch.  Don’t worry, mine does that, too.  I don’t know if it’s supposed to, but it does.  Depending on the humidity, whether or not Mercury is in retrograde, and a host of other factors, you may or may not need to some or all of the last cup of flour.

Flour your rolling surface well.  This part probably also qualifies as arts and crafts time.

Let them get right into it.  Why not – you are going to have to clean the floor again anyways.

After letting the dough rest a few minutes, it will be considerably easier to work with.  Roll it out into something that vaguely resembles a rectangle.

On a warmer day, I would just use my fingers and smear butter all over the dough.  Spring has forgotten about us around here, so I melted the butter, poured it on, and let arts and crafts time continue.

Then the brown sugar.  This, too, usually needs a little manual manipulation.

Then the cinnamon.  Feel free to stand and inhale deeply at this point.  Ah, that’s better.

Then roll up the dough.  Not the rim – there’s no coffee or free doughnut to be had here, either.  Here, you are at a turning point.  If you want to make a few large buns, roll the whole way across and make one log.  If you’d rather have smaller buns (and who wouldn’t, really), roll from both sides, meet in the middle, and separate the two logs with a knife to ensure you have even sized logs with which to make your buns.

Like this.  Keep in mind this is a double batch.

Here they are sliced and all neatly arranged in the pan.  To make sure I end up with even-sized slices, I make an indent with my knife in the middle of my log, then keep splitting each side until I end up with a dozen or so buns.

Today’s helpers kind of had their own plan, so I ended up with these left over.  What to do?

Stick’em in the pan, that’s what.  I am not entering a competition at the local fair and Martha doesn’t live here.  I promise you, they will taste the same.

Cover the whole kit and caboodle with a tea towel.  A clean one, please.  There’s a reason the health unit doesn’t want them used in places that serve food to the public.  Then put them somewhere warm to rise for about a half hour.  Due to the unseasonably chilly temperatures around here, our fireplace is still on.  Perfect.

And yes, those are singing Larry the Cable Guy and Princess birthday cards.

Time for clean up.  I’ll start with this.

Then work on this.

The buns are done rising when they have pretty much filled the pan.  Under rising will give you a dense, groady bun that even the sticky topping won’t make up for.  Over rising will give you a yeasty flavour and some overly large air pockets.

Oh shezam!  These look absolutely divine.

Because I made a double batch, and didn’t quite get the dough divided evenly, this pan got a little overcrowded, hence the bustin’ at the seams look.  Not to worry.  They will still win the competition for taste.

Pan of Chelsea Buns

Invert a serving tray, or a regular size cookie sheet covered in foil over the baking pan and quickly flip the whole thing over.  Slowly pick up the baking pan from one corner, helping any buns that aren’t co-operating onto the pan with the rest of his little friends.  Scrape any leftover goo back onto the buns and let the whole thing cool off.

Fleischmann's Chelsea Bun

If you can wait that long.

The recipe tells you to wait before turning the pan over.  I have no idea what they are talking about on that one.  Let the pan rest only a minute or two to ensure the goo stays with the buns and doesn’t settle back down into the pan.

Once they have cooled off, keep them tightly covered so they don’t dry out. They are best served the same day, but you can serve them for the next day or two without fear.  A couple of seconds in the microwave doesn’t hurt.  Not that they will last that long.

Chelsea Bun With Bite MBAMamaMusings

And there you have it.  These travel fantastically well.  They can also be made into regular cinnamon buns, minus the pan goo, and then iced.  The buns can be frozen before baking and rising.  Just bring them out and allow them to rise somewhere warm before baking.

Chelsea Buns

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12
Author MBAMama


  • 4 cups all purpose flour , divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg Fleischmann's Quick Rise Yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoon + 1/4 cup butter , divided
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon


  1. Combine 3 cups of flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
  2. Gently stir to combine
  3. Meanwhile, gently heat water, oil, and honey.
  4. With the mixer running, pour the water mixture into the flour mixture
  5. Add more flour as necessary, to create a cohesive dough that does not stick to the bowl
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and allow to rest
  7. In a metal 9X13 pan, melt together brown sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of butter - do not allow to boil
  8. Roll out dough to roughly a 12X20 square
  9. Spread the dough with butter
  10. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
  11. Starting from a long edge, roll the dough up tightly into a log
  12. Slice into 12 even sized pieces.
  13. Place into the prepared pan
  14. Cover with wax paper and tea towel
  15. Set in warm place to rise, approximately 30 minutes
  16. Preheat oven to 350 F
  17. Bake for 30-35 minutes
  18. Immediately invert the buns onto a large platter (a lined cookie sheet works well)


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