Apple-Cardamom Chelsea Buns

Two trays of swirly Apple Chelsea buns with pearl sugar. One bun on a plate with a mug of tea.

Swirly, flaky and perfumed with cardamom. These apple chelsea buns are so bloody good. The slices of sticky apple through the layers are so delicious and help keep the buns moist too!

Two trays of swirly Apple Chelsea buns with pearl sugar

As with my hot cross Chelsea buns, the dough is laminated with a single ‘business letter’ fold before filling and rolling. This helps get even more thin, flakey layers into each bun for maximum peeling-of-layers-as-you-eat satisfaction (my favourite part of eating any swirly bun) . These guys can be made vegan by using a non-dairy milk and vegan butter. After a couple of days they do start to get stale so need a few minutes in a warm oven to become soft again!

Apple Cardamom Chelsea Buns

A slightly laminated dough swirled with dark brown sugar, cardamom and apples to make these sticky soft apple chelsea buns. A delicious tea time treat!
4.67 from 15 votes
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Course: Bread and Yeast Doughs
Keywords: apple chelsea buns, cardamom buns
Servings: 12 buns
Calories: 241kcal



  • 2 tablespoons plain white flour or strong white flour
  • 90 g (1/3 cup) water


  • 200 ml milk (you can use a dairy-free milk here)
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons easy-bake yeast ('instant' yeast)
  • 450 g (3 3/4 cups) strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt


  • 100 g unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
  • 2 eating apples , peeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 6-10 pods green cardamom , depending on how much you like it!
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 150 g dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp pearl sugar , for sprinkling (optional)


Make the paste:

  • Combine the paste ingredients in a small pot. Stir together until mostly smooth. Place over a medium heat on the stove and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened into a loose paste texture. Remove from the stove and set aside to cool.

Make the dough:

  • Place the cooled paste into the bowl of a stand mixer (SEE NOTES if you don't have a stand mixer for hand-kneading method) with the hook attachment fitted. Add the milk to the bowl and mash up the paste a bit so it breaks up. Add the oil, sugar, yeast, flour and salt to the bowl.
  • Mix on medium speed in the mixer for 6-10 minutes until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, looks smooth, and is slightly sticky.
  • Pour a bit of extra oil over a dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until doubled in volume.

Make the filling:

  • Place half of the butter into a medium saucepan. Place on the stove and melt over a medium-low heat. Once melted, pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the remaining butter to the same pan. Add your peeled/cored/ sliced apples and return to a medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apple slices are softened but still holding together. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • In a pestle and mortar, bash the cardamom pods to open them up. Remove the papery casing and discard, leaving the little black seeds in the mortar. Grind the seeds into a powder then mix with the cinnamon and dark brown sugar in a small bowl.

Roll and fill the buns:

  • Lightly flour a work surface and tip the risen dough out onto it. Lightly flour the dough and roll it out into a 15 x 26 inch (35 x 65cm) rectangle. Spread the melted butter you set aside earlier over the surface of the dough. Evenly sprinkle on half of the spiced sugar and press it into the dough gently. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. (see above for a video to explain).
  • Roll this out again into a 15 x 26 inch (35 x 65cm) rectangle. Spread the remaining spiced sugar over the surface then evenly distribute the cooked apples and any butter from the pan over this. Starting at the short edge of the rectangle, roll the dough up tightly into a log.
  • Cut the log into 12 equal pieces. Place onto 2 baking sheets lined with baking paper. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise for 30-45 minutes until almost doubled in volume. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if using.

Bake the buns:

  • While the buns rise, pre-heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F).
  • Remove the tea towels covering the buns and bake them for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over.
  • Allow to cool slightly before eating. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


NO STAND MIXER - kneading by hand:
  1. Place the cooled paste into a large bowl. Add the milk to the bowl and mash up the paste a bit so it breaks up. Add the oil, sugar, flour, yeast and salt to the bowl. Stir together with your fingertips to form a shaggy dough. Knead it a bit in the bowl to help bring in some dry bits then tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean work surface.
  2. Knead by hand for ~10 minutes, dusting lightly with flour as needed to stop it sticking to your hands and surface (but try to add as little flour as possible). The dough should be smooth, stretchy and only slightly sticky. Pour a little oil into the bowl and turn to coat.
  3. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until doubled in volume.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 191mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g

10 thoughts on “Apple-Cardamom Chelsea Buns”

  1. I just made these and they are amazing. I didn’t have apples so used pears. I can’t stop eating them! ?

  2. If you don’t have apples?, what can you use instead? And can I substitute 2 teaspoons?of instant yeast to 25 g fresh yeast?

    • you can leave the apples out or use something like pears! And yes, that sounds like it will work well re: yeast 🙂

      • This is a great recipe , thank you. I added some sultanas just for the heck of it. What I love about your blog is that you cut to the chase and get down to th recipe: I rarely use online recipes because the writers so often wax on about their yummy mumminess, or why the simply must have a certain type of saffron, or how the thing will be SO diddley upcious scrumptious moreish and just unputownable your guests will LOVE you.

        Thank you so much for a clear, twaddle free, competent and comprehensive recipe that works .

  3. 5 stars
    I subsitututed the sugar in the dough for honey, reduced it by 5 grams, and the vegetable oil for melted butter. The best dough I’ve ever worked with- rose beautifully, was not sticky to the touch at all (it came out of the bowl with a plop and left nothing behind at all!), was soft, slightly sweet, and baked out crispy on the surface. Absolutely amazing. I used a tablespoon and a half of cinnamon and only about 140 grams of brown sugar for the filling and it was sweet enough. Everybody in my family loved it, will definitely bake again.

  4. 4 stars
    I think your tri fold idea before baking the buns is brilliant and I will try that my next bake. Question is how you got a lamination without it being cold or chilled or did I miss that… tks

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