Tag Archives: chelsea buns

Today I’m celebrating the resurrection of a Cambridge institutionFitzbillies is (un)officially open!

This morning I hot-footed it down to Trumpington Street to purchase some of their infamous sticky chelsea buns.

Thanks have to got to Tim Hayward and his family for bringing back a much loved place and….doing it so well! mmmm

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20/08/2011 · 12:00 pm

Lex’s brunch marathon…

Last weekend I went to my first ever brunch supper club courtesy of Lexeat. Following Lex’s tweets, I know she’s been busy perfecting all manner of brunch-like delights recently and had an inkling that we were in for some real treats! In pre-emption of the sheer number of calories I was about to put away I liberated my poor, rusty old mountain bike from under the tarpaulin in the back garden and rode over to to Lex’s warehouse flat in De Beavoir Town.

I’ve only met Lex once before but thanks to the wonder that is the world wide web and our twitter baking chats I felt really relaxed and at home as soon as I stepped through the door. Johanna (I hope I’ve spelt that right) leapt straight into the role of hostess with the mostess and plied me with a bloody mary, the first one I’ve ever had containing dill…an unexpected but delicious addition!

The tables were beautifully laid, ready and waiting for us with the menu written in a trail around the place settings…

Once my fellow brunchers arrived and introductions had been made we settled down for our first course, which was baked quails eggs on moroccan spiced peppers…

Followed by sweet potato fritters stacked with halloumi and served with an avocado salsa, coriander creme fraiche and a homemade chilli jam which I absolutely fell in love with and could easily have eaten by the spoonful!…

The sun was streaming through the windows as Lex served us up sweet and refreshing pears poached in prosecco with homemade granola and greek yoghurt

As if those 3 wonderful courses weren’t enough…it was now time for the carb fest to commence!…

Friands, chelsea buns and English muffins…

croissants…

Lex was worried that her chelsea buns were a bit ‘sunburnt’ but I can vouch for the fact that this didn’t have a detrimental effect on their deliciousness! It just so happens that by coincidence me and Lex made our first ever batch of chelsea buns on the very same day and had been comparing notes, my versions are here and Lex’s here.

The friands were amazing, they looked quite unassuming and simple until you bit into them…they were unbelievably moist and melted in your mouth, I’m salivating just thinking about them…

It goes without saying that I sampled all of the above, and couldn’t resist slathering the muffins with homemade pineapple jam…

homemade rhubarb jam…

and homemade lime marmalade (of which I was lucky enough to be given a jar to take home with me!)…

Every single morsel was lovingly Lex-made…here she is making the magic happen…

My neighbours, Tiffany (who has also blogged the brunch here) and Niamph of Eat like a Girl fame were wonderful company and conversation and coffee from Climpson and Sons flowed endlessly. Before we knew it 4 hours had passed by. I eventually stopped myself eating and felt able to get back on my bike, I bid farewell to our lovely hostesses and rode off, a lot slower than I arrived 😉

It was the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon, great food and great company…I just couldn’ do it too often or I would be the size of a truck!

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Fitzbillies…gone but not forgotten

This post is a tribute to the legend that is Fitzbillies, a Cambridge institution that had, up until a couple of weeks ago been producing the most amazing trademark chelsea buns for 90 years! Sadly they were forced to close as ‘a result of the very difficult economic times’. I was born and bred in Cambridge and am absolutely gutted to see the demise of such an iconic, independent business!

I’ve never made my own chelsea buns, but inspired by sentimentality I decided to give them a go. They most definitely weren’t up to the sticky, gooey, standard of the Fitzbillies original but…they were darn tasty!…

They’re actually pretty simple to make but you do need to have a bit of time on your hands as there’s quite a lot of setting aside for resting and rising involved…the perfect occupation for a chilled out Sunday afternoon.

To make about 15 chelsea buns you will need…

540g strong white flour (plus a little bit extra for dusting)

1tsp salt

1 packet of easy-blend-yeast

1/2 pint milk

60g unsalted butter (plus a bit extra for greasing the baking tray)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. This makes the finished buns lighter.

Make a well in the flour and add the packet of yeast.

Slowly warm the milk and butter in a pan until all of the butter has melted. Then add it to the flour mixture. Partially mix together and then add the beaten egg before continuing to mix until it forms a soft dough.

Get stuck in and knead it for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm, or put it in a plastic bag and place it somewhere warm like an airing cupboard, until the dough has doubled in size. I don’t have an airing cupbard so I used a trick that I learned from watching Lorraine Pascale on Baking Made Easy. She turned the oven on to preheat and sat the bowl on a tall stall right next to it, which provided enough warmth to encourage the dough to rise. Be warned it might take about an hour.

But as if by magic, mine turned from this…

into this…

Whilst you’re waiting for your dough to rise you can grease a 13 by 9inch (ish) baking tray with a little bit of butter and prepare your filling by mixing 270g dried fruit (I used a mixture of sultanas and raisins but you can also use currants and/or mixed peel if you like) with 120g dark brown soft sugar in a bowl.

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knock it back with your fist to expel the air until it’s back to its original size.

Sprinkle your kitchen surface or a board with flour and roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 15 by 20 inches.

Brush the surface with 120g melted butter and sprinkle the dried fruit and sugar combo evenly over the entire surface.

Now, comes the slightly tricky bit if you’re baking solo…you need to roll the dough up from the long side, in the style of a swiss roll. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look too neat to start off with, I managed to get mine back on track after a pretty rocky start!

Once you’ve rolled it into a giant sausage, cut it into about 15 pieces and arrange them evenly in the greased baking tray. Leave a little bit of space between each bun…

Cover the tray with more clingfilm and put it back in a warm place for about half an hour, by which time, they should double in size again…

While they are rising, heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Now bake them for 25 minutes or until they’re golden on top.

While they’re baking, you need to prepare the piece de resistance, the bit that makes a chelsea bun, a proper chelsea bun…the glaze!

Dissolve 2tbsp caster sugar in 1tbsp milk, over a low heat. Then bring it to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Don’t do this bit too early, like I did, as you’ll get left with a congealed mess. It only takes a few minutes to prepare so wait until the buns are on the verge of being ready.

Remove the glorious buns from the oven and brush them with the glaze. Carefully take them out of the tin and transfer them onto a wire rack to cool. This is no mean feat but apparently it’s very important so that they don’t become soggy on the bottom.

As soon as they’re cool enough, break them apart…and tuck in!

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