How To Make Chelsea Buns

Another classic. You can use this dough to make hot cross buns or even tea cakes.

I have posted this under the enriched dough recipe section, but it is also made with a preferment (flying sponge). I think it is called a flying sponge because of the speedy fermentation. Normal preferments use little amounts yeast and are fermented for a long time. This on the other hand is using all the yeast at once and is fermented for a short time. While slow fermentation makes the bread more sour and gives it a thicker and crispier crust, a quick flying sponge will make the buns more soft and fluffy.

If you have never made bread using preferments, then I suggest checking out the breads with preferment page to learn more. Using this will open up a whole new world of baking for you. Most breads can be made with preferment.


For the flying sponge:

200g (7.1oz) strong white bread flour

7g (0.24oz) dry yeast or three times the amount of fresh yeast

270g (9.5oz) water at around 25C (77F)

To learn more about dough temperature control click here.


For the main dough:

300g (10.5oz) strong white bread flour

10g (0.35oz) salt

75g (2.6oz) soft butter

75g (2.6oz) sugar


For the filling:

125g (4.4oz) dried fruit and mixed candied peel

75g (4.4oz) sugar

10g (0.35oz) mixed spice

75g (4.4oz) soft butter for spreading.


For the sugar syrup:

50g (1.7oz) sugar

25g water


For the icing:
100g (3.5oz) icing sugar

Juice of half a lemon or enough to make a kind of tooth paste consistency.


  1. Make the flying sponge by mixing all ingredients and proofing for 45 minutes to 1h or until puffed up and bubbly. Do not let this over ferment as the gluten will start breaking down and you will end up with runny buns.
  2. Add the rest of the dough ingredients (except the butter) to the flying sponge, mix well and knead for around 6 minutes.
  3. Tear in the butter and knead until smooth.
  4. Proof for 30 minutes. If your kitchen is cooler, then it may take longer to ferment and vice versa. Keep an eye on your dough and react accordingly. You can see how much it should rise in the video.
  5. Fold.
  6. Proof for another 30 minutes.
  7. Roll out, top with the fillings, roll up and cut into 12 pieces. Use a sharp knife and do not hesitate when cutting. You want to get nice clean cuts to make your buns look perfect.
  8. Final proof 30 minutes.
  9. Bake at 180C (350F) with fan for around 30 minutes or until golden brown all over. Your oven may be more powerful, so your buns may cook more quickly. Keep an eye on them to get a perfect bake.
  10. Brush with the sugar syrup whilst hot.

Leave them to cool down almost completely before drizzling with the icing. If the buns are too warm, then the icing will melt and run off. 



Watch the video here

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