Esterházy torte – nut dacquoise layer cake

Esterhazy cake

Esterházy cake is a dacquoise layer torte originating in Budapest in the late 1800s. It was created (as many famous/regional speciality cakes are) by a confectioner keen to impress one of the great houses of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire and one of its members in particular, Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galántha. Its longevity as a popular recipe proves the Prince (or at least those around him who ate the cake) must have designated it a success. Some of the essential features of this torte are the fondant glaze with spider’s web pattern, the chopped (or slivered) nuts pressed into the edges of the cake, the number of layers separated by a French nut buttercream. Recipes vary in the number of layers and, as the recipe for the cake travelled and got more popular throughout mid-eastern Europe it naturally altered, as these things do due to taste and availability. Some variants are all hazelnut, some almond, some walnut and some a mixture.

Notes

The only thing I have altered was that I could only get ground almonds. I had wanted to use half and half almonds and hazelnuts, but as I don’t have anything that can successfully grind nuts or spices down without turning them into a mush, I had no option but to purchase pre-ground. Ground almonds are easy to get hold of, but ground hazelnuts proved trickier and I could only find them online (and I didn’t think they’d turn up in time so I bypassed them). I have used chopped hazelnuts on the outside of the cake though, so I think this balanced the flavour back out a little at least. Some recipes include alcohol (usually cognac) and some don’t; I’ve kept without it because there would be children eating it too and I’m not a massive fan of boozy cakes anyway. One last thing, this is me being pedantic but I piped the layers. Most recipes just say to spoon or spread the meringue sponge. I fully admit I’m OCD in the kitchen with trying to get my bakes (especially any patisserie) as exact as possible so there was no way I’d do anything else than use a piping bag and round nozzle. I piped the meringue sponge onto a pre-drawn circle (underneath side of baking paper) starting in the middle and spiralling outwards – this is a typical method to make large single macarons. You can please yourself – it doesn’t alter the flavour or texture and the top layer gets covered in fondant anyway. It’s just I knew it was there… 🙂 Don’t panic at the length of the recipe – it’s not as tricky as some might have you believe, it just has quite a few stages to it. The only tricky thing is piping the chocolate spiral. I did make this cake over two days, not because you really can’t make it all in one go, but that I started at about 8pm one night (after a full day’s work and the usual tidying and preparing dinner after getting home) and frankly ran out of steam to complete it that evening. This recipe was submitted for a Daring Bakers Esterházy cake challenge, hosted by Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake.

Equipment

  • Baking paper/parchment
  • Round template about 5cm (6 in) – a pan lid, plate or cake tin
  • Piping bag and large, round plain nozzle (about 8mm or 3/8in diameter) and another (or a plastic piping bag with the end snipped) with a small, plain nozzle (about 1mm / fine)
  • Saucepan and heatproof bowl for bain marie (or a double boiler if you’re posh/well equiped)
  • Bowls and stand mixer/handheld mixer
  • Stand mixer or handheld mixer (you can do the meringue by hand but it’ll be laborious)
  • Baking trays
  • Smaller items: pastry brush, palette knife or cake lifter, rubber spatula, marker or pencil

Ingredients – nut meringues / dacquoise

  • Egg whites – 6 large
  • Icing sugar – 180g
  • Caster sugar – 20g
  • Ground almonds – 200g (or 100g and ground hazelnuts 100g)
  • Plain flour – 60g
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tspn

Method for the dacquoise/nut meringues

  1. Mark out five circles on your baking paper using your circular template/lid etc
  2. Turn on the oven to 150 C
  3. Whip up the egg whites to stiff-ish peaks using a fast speed
  4. Slow the mixer a little to medium speed and slowly tip in the caster sugar and incorporate, then the icing sugar (a little at a time or in a slow stream – just don’t plonk it all in at once)
  5. Ensure the meringue is glossy and fully incorporates the sugar and remove the bowl from the mixer
  6. Mix in the ground nuts (about a third at a time) and the vanilla extract slowly with the rubber spatula in a figure of eight motion. Be gentle but do make sure all the ground nuts are spread evenly throughout the mixture
  7. Using a blob of the mix on your finger, fix down the baking paper (with the marked out circles on the underside) onto the baking trays – this will keep them fixed in place as you pipe or spread
  8. If you’re piping: place the mix in the piping bag with the large plain nozzle (you’ll have to refill) and start in the middle of the circle and pipe in a tight spiral round and outwards until you have a disc. It is better to overlap the spiral rather than have gaps, as you can spread out the mix afterwards. (spreading out the mix when there’s gaps will thin out the layer too much). You can smooth the discs a little with a palette knife
  1. If you’re spreading, spoon the mix onto the sheets and smooth it out to the edges of the circle. You’re aiming for just under 1 cm in height
  2. If you have a bit left over, pipe or spoon a small circle so you can test ‘doneness’ at the end of the cooking
  3. When you’ve done all five pop them in the oven for about 16 mins. Do NOT let them go brown, you want just under but definitely cooked. Judging this is fairly tricky, and they will carry on cooking slightly from the residual heat for a few minutes after you remove them anyway. If you were able to pipe a smaller circle you can test this – if you think it’s underdone, pop them all back in for another 2 minutes
  4. Take out and leave to cool on the baking sheets – don’t move them until you have to as the meringues are slightly fragile

French nut buttercream

  • Egg yolks, large – 6
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Unsalted butter, softened slightly – 150g
  • Ground almonds/hazelnuts – 75g
  • (Plus a little whipped double cream to lighten if you prefer)

French buttercream – recipe

  1. Made in a bain marie (a bowl over a saucepan with a few centimetres of water, although do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, or use a double boiler, if you have one)
  2. Bring the water to a gentle boil, put the yolks and sugar in the bowl on top and whisk while heating until smooth and thickened
  3. Leave to cool
  4. In a separate bowl, whip up the butter until fluffy and then beat in the yolks and the ground nuts until smooth and fully incorporated
  5. Just one note – to lighten the buttercream if you prefer fold in some whipped double cream (I know this doesn’t exactly lighten the calorie load but it can create a lighter feel and taste on the palette, as some people find buttercream too cloying). Should you wish to add a spoonful of cognac or other liquer, you could do that now

Assembling the layers

  1. For this don’t use all the buttercream – you’ll need enough kept aside for the sides and one teaspoon to add to the chocolate to thin it for piping
  2. Alternate the dacquoise layers with buttercream and build the torte – two things though: put the top layer on upside down (so it is flat at the top) and do not put any butter cream on the top

Apricot glaze method

  1. Warm the apricot jam and a teaspoon of water in a microwave or a saucepan
  2. Brush it over the top layer of the torte – let it cool/resolidify before you attempt to pour on the fondant icing

Icing method

  1. Mix together the icing sugar, a little lemon juice and a little water – you want it to get to only just starting to slip off the back of the spoon. It’s better to add the water a tiny drop at a time, as it’s so easy to make it too runny and you’ll need a lot of icing sugar to bring it back. As a guide for a cake this size you’ll need about 100ml in total
  2. Before you start pouring it on, ready the chocolate (see below) so it is to hand as soon as the icing is smooth
  3. Pour on the icing and smooth it out with a palette knife – if you’ve got a cranked one that’s easiest

Chocolate spiral method

  1. Melt the chocolate (in a microwave is easiest – zap it in 10 second intervals until it’s malleable) then stir in a teaspoon of the creme you’ve prepared
  2. Put it in the second piping bag with a small nozzle (or a new bag with the corner snipped off)
  3. Start in the middle of the cake, squeeze evenly and spiral the piped line of chocolate round and outwards, until you’ve got a nice spiral that meets the edge of the cake
  4. To ‘draw’ the spider lines you’ll be using a skewer or toothpick to alternate between dragging over the lines from the middle to the edge, then from the edge to the middle. Imagine a bike wheel – you’re drawing the spokes and it’s easiest to do an even number of lines so you can mentally divide the cake up easier to match the lines up.

Finishing the cake

  1. Using a palette knife spread the remainder of the creme round the edge of the cake and then gently press the chopped hazelnuts into the creme

Paris-Brest with passionfruit crème diplomate

This Paris-Brest choux is another Daring Bakers‘ challenge.

I have made Paris-Brest before on a few occasions and to follow the original recipe is to produce one large ring-shaped choux filled, decorated simply with toasted, flaked almonds and filled with crème mousseline. It’s typically large enough that it can be sliced to serve a number of people. So, for a change I thought I’d do individual choux and add a new flavour in.

I find crème mousseline (also sometimes known as German buttercream) a bit much when it’s the main filling. It’s wonderful with fruit or when there’s a little less of it, but in a Paris-Brest there’s a massive amount of cream for the amounty of pastry. So, I thought I’d I try a crème diplomate as a change – I also opted for a chocolate topping (more like an eclair) than the traditional icing sugar and flaked almonds.  

Crème mousseline is a 4 : 2 : 1 mix of pastry cream : butter : hazelnut paste. Just reading it makes it sound heavy and  artery-clogging! There are plenty of recipes online if you prefer to make this.  

Crème diplomate is a 2 : 1 (typically) mix of pastry cream to whipped double cream. Not exactly slimline in itself, but it feels lighter in the mouth to me. Maybe I’m making that up/it’s wishful thinking? Anyway, whichever you choose to use this is not going to be a dieter’s dessert.

Background to the Paris-Brest

The Paris-Brest is another of those pastries dreamt up by a very canny self-marketing Parisien Chef Patissier. In this instance, it was Louis Durand, in 1910 who chose to commemorate the Paris to Brest and back-to-Paris cycle race by creating a ‘bicycle wheel’ in choux pastry and filling it with crème mousseline. It certainly drew attention,  ensured his name became synonymous with the delicacy and firmly placed it as a staple of French patisseries ever since. I guess it worked out well for him! The history of cooking is littered with French chefs trying to create the next best thing and get their name known – some are known for their overall contributions (like Carême onwards though Soyer, Lenôtre, Desfontaines, to today’s Parisien Chefs like Michalak and Felder) and some like Durand for one particular success. Clearly celebrity cheffery is not a new phenomenom in France!

If you can read French (or are adept at working out Google translate) you may like to view this website on the Durand patisserie in Paris. The Patisserie is still going and this link takes you to some information about Louis and his creation, and includes some simply fabulous photos of Louis, his wife and the original facade of the shop and you can browse the rest of the site to see their current pastries.

Notes

This makes about 8 small choux (about 10 cm across)

Equipment

  • saucepan
  • baking paper or parchment
  • baking trays
  • fine sieve
  • bowls
  • plastic flexible spatula
  • piping bag and large round nozzle
  • a circular object about 10 cm in diameter – like a side plate or pan lid just to draw round

Ingredients – choux

This choux recipe (best I’ve tried) is taken from ‘Patisserie’ by Murielle Valette, printed by Constable 2013, ISBN 978-1-9089-7413-6

  • Water – 250 ml
  • Unsalted butter, diced – 100 g
  • Caster suger – 12 g
  • Salt – 5 g
  • Strong white bread flour – 125 g
  • Eggs, medium – 4

Method – for the choux

  1. Bring the water, salt, butter and sugar to a boil until all are disolved together
  2. Taking the pan off the heat tip all the flour in quickly and mix until it comes together into a ball
  3. Put the pan back on the heat and stir for a about half a minute to dry the pastry out a bit further
  4. Put the mix into a large bowl and start stirring in the eggs one at a time. It takes a while to mix in the egg fully
  5. Pause at egg number four – as you made not need the whole egg. It’s easier to add a fraction of an egg if you beat it first to mix yolk and white. Add a little of this last egg at a time – you’re looking for a consistency which is heavy and just above dropping – in that the paste should slowly slide down the back of a spatula but not actually get anywhere near dropping off the end
  6. It’s now ready to put in a piping bag and use
  7. Mark out circles on the baking paper with the lid/plate you’re using as a template – how many you get on a baking tray will depend on its size. You need to leave about 5 cm between the circles so you will probably get four on a typical baking tray
  8. Turn over the baking paper so thedrawn circles are underneath and just show through (even with permanent markers the ink may come off – as I can testify to!)
  9. Heat your oven to 190 C fan / 200 C conventional
  10. Pipe the paste in a ring so that the outside of the ring matches the lines of the circle (ie pipe inside). Repeat to use all the mixture up
  11. Wet the back of a teaspoon and smooth the paste where the ends join
  12. Sprinkle the baking paper the choux rings are on with a little water and put the trays in the oven.
  13. Cook them for around 15 mins and then turn down the oven to 155 C fan / 165 conventional for at least another 15 minutes. Don’t open the oven door for at least this half an hour period or the choux will sag (the first 15 mins is enough to cook it and let it rise and the second 15 mins will dry the pastry out further). Unfortuantely, although cooking choux isn’t as hard as some say, judging when it’s done does take a bit of practice. If in doubt, turn the oven off and leave them in there for anouther 15 mins. Choux should be a medium-to-dark brown (a bit darker than most other pastries).
  14. When ready take them out, leave them on the trays and leave to cool

Ingredients – crème diplomate

For the crème patisserie

This will give you more than you need but it will freeze.

  • Full fat milk (the richer the better, for example Channel Islands gold top) – 500 ml
  • Caster sugar – 90 g
  • Egg yolks, large – 4
  • Plain flour  – 20 g
  • Cornflour – 20 g
  • Butter, unsalted and cubed – 40 g
  • Vanilla pod, split – 1 or  vanilla paste – 1 tspn 
  •  

For the passionfruit crème diplomate

  • Whipped double cream – 300 ml
  • Passion fruits – 3

Method – to create the crème diplomate

Prepare the crème patisserie

 

  1. Bring the milk and spilt vanilla pod/vanilla paste to a boil in a small but heavy-bottomed pan
  2. Remove from the heat
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together everything else except the butter
  4. When the milk has cooled a bit, tip a little of the milk into the egg and flour mixture and mix it in (tipping a small amount in first will stop you getting scrambled eggs, which is likely to happen if you lob it all in in one go) 
  5. when this is mix, gently pour in the rest and combine
  6. Tip it all back in the pan and return the pan back to the heat
  7. Bring to just under boiling while stirring constantly
  8. When it’s nice and thick, remove from the heat
  9. Pass it through a sieve into the bowl again
  10. Put the cubes of butter in the bowl and stir until it’s totally incorporated
  11. Set aside to cool and when cooled enough store in the fridge until needed

 

Prepare the passionfruit cream

  1. Whip the double cream until really thick
  2. Scoop out the flesh of the passion fruits into the cream – you can sieve out the seeds if you don’t like them but personally I think they add a nice texture and the black seeds look good in the cream
  3. Mix the fruit into the double cream
  4. Chill

 

Combining the two creams into crème diplomate

  1. When you’re ready to combine (ie everything is chilled), just mix the crème patisserie with the double cream and fruit – use a spatula and mix until combined
  2. Chill until ready to use
  3. Freeze any leftover

Ingredients – for the toppings

  • Chocolate (dark or milk – your preference) – 100 g
  • Various toppings – I used pearl sugar, flaked almonds and chopped pink pralines but you could use anything you like/have to hand

Building the Paris-Brest

  1. Using a sharp serrated knife (I used my bread knife after sharpening it) and slice each choux in half
  2. Melt the chocolate – being careful to temper it to a nice shine (see my tempering temperatures blog)
  3. Dip each of the TOP halves of the choux in the chocolate
  4. Leave to start setting – when the chocolate is still just just the melty side of set sprinkle the toppings over
  5. Leave to cool completely until the chocolate is hard
  6. Spoon the crème diplomate into a piping bag and pipe onto the BOTTOM halves of the choux and place the chocolate covered halves on top of the cream   

Chimney cake

Chimney cake

Another Daring Bakers challenge – thanks to Swathi from Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Chimney cake (its anglicised name) or Kürtőskalács is a brioche/enriched dough treat from Hungary and Romania. It’s name reflects the shape, caused by coiling dough round a wooden cylinder and baking the whole thing together.

This cake is a legacy of medieval cooking methods and actually pretty much every European culture and country will have had it’s own equivalent speciality. These cakes were borne out of the fact that  all cooking was done over an open fire using either spits suspended across the flames or a cauldron sat on a trivet or brandreth. Cakes and puddings could be made in cauldrons – they were wrapped in cloth and floated in liquid simmering away in the cauldron (the root recipe for many favourites like suet and sponge puddings in Britain) or they could be made on a spit – which means either wrapping a cylinder mould with dough or basting a batter mix over it.

The German tree cake or baumkuchen is a marque of a master konditor (pastry cook) and forms part of the critical part of the Konditormeister mastership examination. This is another example of these cylinder cakes, but here batter is basted over a mould on the spit while it is turning, rather than a coiled dough. In many countries these cylinder cakes have been lost to history so it’s lovely to see some still kept alive. The English version was ‘trayne roste’ or train roast and is more closely related to the baumkuchen. I’m making a guess here that it got its name because the batter was trained over the spit. I say just English, Great Britain didn’t exist at that time (and not for a few hundred years more) but no doubt Scotland and Wales had their own variations (they just weren’t written down anywhere).

One of the earliest examples of trayne roste includes figs, dates, raisins, almonds, fruit (unspecified – I assume whatever was in season), wine or ale (as water wasn’t potable outside of natural spa areas), ginger, saffron and cloves. You can read the earliest known written recipe as a pdf or ebook within a book listed as Harl Ms. 2016. I’d urge you to have a look not least because the language is fascinating (serue of hit a pece or two in a dissh – serve a piece or two in a dish, for example).

Anyway, back to chimney cake or Kürtőskalács. The unique method of cooking this over a flame or in a modern specially made oven to accommodate the spits seems to be getting more popular and bakeries are now springing up outside of Hungary and Romania. There are several dotted around the UK that appeared in the results while I was asking Mr Google about the cake.

So… onto the recipe. I’ve actually tweaked the recipe a little to accommodate a nod to the historic recipes. Kürtőskalács is a brioche-type recipe (but with less butter) and I’ve added cinnamon, nutmeg and a few finely chopped raisins to mimic those medieval tastes.

Notes

To replicate the specialist mould you’ll need to wrap a rolling pin with foil and find a way to suspend it so that the dough doesn’t touch anything. I did this by balancing the rolling pin ends on a couple of upturned ramekins.

This amount of dough will make two chimney cakes.

Equipment
  • Rolling pin, covered in foil
  • Something to balance it on – a wide tin or a couple of ramekins
  • Bowl
  • Dough scraper
Ingredients
  • strong white flour (fine – suitable for brioche/choux etc) – 250g
  • yeast, easy blend – 7g
  • milk, slightly warmed – 120 ml
  • caster sugar – 35g
  • salt – pinch
  • eggs, room temperature – 2 medium
  • unsalted butter, softened – 50g
  • raisins, chopped – small handful (about 20g)
  • cinnamon – 1/3 tsp
  • nutmeg, freshly grated or ground – 1/3 tsp
  • extra butter melted, to brush onto the cake
  • extra caster sugar, to roll the cake into
Method
  1. Put the yeast into the (slightly) warmed milk and give it a whisk with a fork. Leave it to froth up a little – this’ll take about 5 mins.
  2. Prepare your rolling pin(s) by wrapping it completely in foil and rubbing some oil all over.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (not the raisins) together and when the yeast is ready, tip the milk/yeast mix in and the melted butter and mix it all into a sticky mess.
  4. Leave for 5 mins, then knead for five mins (by hand or in a mixer). It’s much more gooey than bread and should be this way, so don’t be tempted to add additional flour. It’s best to knead without flour – it’s messy and sticky but will improve as you knead. Use a scraper to help you get it off the table.
  5. Drop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise until about doubled in size – this can take a good couple of hours (alternatively leave it in the fridge overnight).
  6. When risen, add the raisins and give it a light knead.
  7. Chop the dough into two and tease each ball of dough out into a long rope by pulling/rolling it. Get it to as long as possible while keeping it at about an inch across.
  1. Roll this rope flat – repeat for the other ball of dough. These are now ready to wrap round the foiled rolling pin.
  1. Heat your oven to 180C fan/190 conventional.
  2. Start at one end of the rolling pin and coil the dough round in a spiral. Wet the edge of the dough slightly as you wrap it round to help it keep together. Keep going until the whole of the main cylinder of the rolling pin is wrapped (any extra dough can be made into mini Chelsea buns).
  1. Brush the cake with melted butter and roll in the caster sugar.
  2. Balance your rolling pin on whatever you’ve managed to arrange to go into the oven (to keep the rolling pin suspended) and put into the oven.
  1. It will take about 20 mins to bake – you’re looking for a golden brown colour.
  2. When it’s done, let the cake cool on the rolling pin.
  3. To get it off (if it won’t slide off the foil) actually slide the whole of the foil and the cake together off the rolling pin, then gently pull the foil off the inside of the cake.
  4. Trim one end to ensure it’s flat so the cake will stand. Leave long for people to tear off a piece or chop into manageable, shorter tubes

Apricot, apple and almond Chelsea Buns

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I was just thinking I hadn’t made an enriched dough recipe for a while…

Background/history of the recipe

Chelsea Buns are a specific version of a traditional, rolled enriched and sweetened bread. Unusually for a bread, their origins are actually known, as they were invented at the Chelsea Bun House in London, probably in the early 1700s, as contemporary literature and reports from as early as 1711 cite the bakery.

The Chelsea Bun House would have been located just off the Pimlico Road (and technically in Pimlico not confusingly in Chelsea – perhaps it relocated premises at one point). There is a Bunhouse Place, but it appears it’s unlikely that this was the location and was named after, with Grosvenor Row or Jew’s Row more likely candidates listed in the food/London history books (Wikipedia says Jew’s Row but you know never to fully believe wikipedia, right?) If you want to find where Bunhouse Place is, this is it on Streetmaps.

Anyway, the original Chelsea Bun House is no more as it closed down in 1939. At the height of it’s popularity (and it was very popular) even Royalty succumbed to its treats as it’s reported both King George II and King George III actually visited. Although the Chelsea Bun bore it’s name, the bakery actually was most famous for it’s hot cross buns

Chelsea Buns are usually made with extra butter, dried fruit (currants, sultanas or raisins) and coated in a honey glaze. The sweet dough is pressed into a rectangle, covered with butter, sugar and fruit and rolled, like a roulade. This is then cut into slices and arranged, with a cut side showing, grouped together in a tin so they rise and cook touching together.

Though currants are the real traditional ingredients, Chelsea buns are often altered but the main thing is to keep their coiled shape and glaze.

My new flavourings for Chelsea Buns – apricot, almond and apple

I’ve chosen to try a new recipe, and it worked out even better than I’d hoped. The combination of apple, apricot jam and crunchy almonds was lovely. I think I definitely prefer them with a bit of a crunch (other nice alternatives are chopped pistachios; chocolate drops and orange; dried fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg – a Christmassy taste and red berries).

Notes

Chelsea buns are big and hearty! If you want something more delicate you can roll the dough up from either long edge into the middle of the rectangle of dough at stage 13. So you would have two mini rolls, and then cut down the middle between the two rolls to separate them before cutting into about 10 slices each and arranging them in a tin. Proving and cooking time shouldn’t be affected.

Equipment

  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 23 cm round springform tin, but a square or oblong one would be just fine
  • large bowl
  • pastry brush

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • strong white flour – 450 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • milk – 125 ml (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • water – 75 ml (tepid rather than warm)
  • medium egg (beaten) – 1
  • unsalted melted butter – 25 g

Ingredients for the filling

  • butter, softened – 20 g
  • small dessert apple – 1
  • flaked almonds (toasted or non-toasted – either will do) – 90 g
  • apricot jam – about half a standard jar (I like it with the lumpy bits of fruit but if you don’t you could warm it, sieve it and let it re-cool or buy a smooth jam)

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • apricot jam – 3 tbsps
  • water – 1 tbsp
  • a few extra flaked almonds

Method

Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s the flour, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and melted butter and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy (half the fun) so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead).
  3. Tip it out onto a clean surface. Try to resist adding a dusting of flour to the surface if you can (or if it’s not too ingrained a habit). Yes, some of it will stick to the surface but as you continue kneading it will lift off and combine, and then you haven’t changed the chemical constitution of the dough too much by increasing the ratio of flour. Alternatively, I expect you can use a machine with a bread hook, but I’ve not tried that myself with sweet dough, I always do it by hand.
  4. If the dough is a little hard work add a touch more milk – as mentioned, it should be just slightly wetter than bread (more like how wet a sourdough or brioche would be).
  5. The kneading will take about 8 – 10 mins depending on how vigorous you are! Just like other breads, the dough will be smooth and a bit bouncy when it’s ready. This is one of those things that you just get used to seeing after you’ve baked for a while.
  6. Clean out your original bowl and lightly grease it (or use another) and pop in the dough. I usually chuck a large linen teatowel over my rising bread, and sprinkle over a little bit of water onto the towel, but cling film will do nearly as well (this shouldn’t need dampening as it creates an airtight seal and the bread is already moist).
  7. Leave it to double in size somewhere warm but not hot – this will typically take an hour or so but it depends on the warmth. Like other sweet doughs you could make this one evening and leave in the fridge or somewhere cool to rise overnight.

Shaping, filling and rolling the buns

  1. Grease the cake/bread tin.
  2. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 30cm by 20 cm.
Chelsea buns - prepraing the filling ingredients
The rectangle of dough with the ingredients spread and scattered on
  1. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the butter all over the rectangle of dough – you may not need all 20g – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later). Now spread over the half jar of apricot jam.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apple finely now (if you do this earlier it will discolour – one way to stop that would be to cover it in lemon juice but that will make the apple too acidic for this recipe).
  3. Scatter over the diced apple and the almonds.
  4. Now you need to roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge which you haven’t left with a 1 cm gap. Brush a little bit of water or milk onto that edge you left so it sticks to the outside of the dough once you’ve roll it all up. It should look just like a doughy Swiss roll.
  5. Cut the roll into about eight slices.
Chelsea buns - cutting the filled dough into coils
The roll of sweet dough with the ingredients inside, sliced into coils
  1. Pop the slices end-on into the tin, so that you can see the Swiss roll shape and all the lovely fillings from the top. You may need to push the back into more of a round shape, as slicing them may have flattened them a little. Space the slices between 1 – 2 cm apart so that when they rise they bump into each other.
Chelsea buns arranged in tin prior to baking
  1. Cover with a that clean, damp tea towel or cling film from earlier and leave it to rise and prove a second time. You want them to puff up to about double what they were but this shouldn’t take as long as the first rise – about 30 mins.
  2. Pop on your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.

Baking and glazing

  1. When risen, take off the covering and pop the tin in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins. After 10 mins don’t take them out – turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and cook for between 10 – 15 mins more. You want a nice golden top (not light but not too dark). You may need to turn the tin after the first 10 mins if your oven is not cooking very evenly (as you want the buns to all have the same depth of colour).
  2. Fetch the buns out when ready and leave to cool in the tin a bit.
  3. Now make the glaze by melting the jam and water together until just bubbling. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin) and then scatter the extra few flaked almonds over the top.
  4. You can either enjoy them slightly warm or leave until fully cool.
Chelsea buns