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!
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!
- 2 tablespoons plain white flour or strong white flour
- 90g (1/3 cup) water
- 200ml milk (you can use a dairy-free milk here)
- 50ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
- 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons easy-bake yeast ('instant' yeast)
- 450g (3 3/4 cups) strong white flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 100g 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
- 150g 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until doubled in volume.