Franny’s #GBBO Bakeathon Challenge – Week 3 (Chelsea Buns)

Happy Bank Holiday everyone! 

I’m not sure about where you are, but here in London we have absolutely miserable weather today. Not great for all those lovely Bank Holiday outdoor plans  that some may have: cycling in the park, touring the city’s book benches, watching outdoor theatre – nope. Today is definitely an inside day. And how better to spend those rainy hours out of the office than whipping up a treat for all to enjoy? So today, I’m offering my attempt at Chelsea Buns.


This week we saw the bakers tackle bread. Yes. The mighty Paul Hollywood took to the starlight like the icing on these buns and, with his all-knowing looks at the amateurs before him in addition to his simple advice – ‘be patient’, he ensured that bread week proved (ha!) to contain some tricky challenges. From identical rye rolls and the perfect ciabatta, to filled loaves that left me goggling at the screen in wonder, GBBO once again had me drooling and ready to tackle my own dough creation in the kitchen.


I did intend to go for a savoury bread this week, in fact, my plan was to make a savoury version of Paul’s apricot couronne which featured as a technical challenge last year. But Bank Holiday weekend came around fast and I simply was not prepared so I turned to a simple yet tasty recipe which I found in my Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book and gave it a couple of changes to make it my very own.


This sweet dough was really great to work with. It’s very simple to make so if you have a spare afternoon I highly recommend it. The buns also disappear pretty quickly (especially if there’s more than one of you!) so you don’t need to worry that they only last a couple of days. I think I may have slightly over baked this batch in an attempt to get that lovely golden brown colour on top so have noted for next time maybe to make some sort of glaze to help the process along (though god forbid it deceives me like Martha – oh Paul, you know-it-all!) This did result in them being slightly heavier than intended, but Rémi ensures me that they go brilliantly with a cup of tea. 

Tilly was back to help out…

This Wednesday, the bakers tackle desserts. I adore desserts so I am really looking forward to this one. I will be rushing back from my evening meeting to watch it and at the weekend I will be recruiting my visiting friend to help whip something up for all you lovely readers.

Until then, hope this recipe may inspire you to get baking this Bank Holiday Monday.

Sinking your teeth into these delicious sweet buns is an experience everyone should enjoy.

– Franny






  • 450g strong white bread flour (I accidentally bought brown first time so pay attention, shoppers!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast
  • 200ml milk
  • 50g butter (don’t forget a little extra for greasing)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 80g sultanas
  • 80g chopped dried apricots
  • 400g marzipan (I used golden but white is probably more distinctive!)
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam


  • You’re meant to have a 20.5 x 25 cm brownie tin for these but I do not own one so I used one 20 x 20 cm cake tin and then a circular cake tin – what’s great is that so long as your buns are evenly spaced – the shape of your tin doesn’t really matter! Whatever you’re using, grease well with butter and leave for later
  • Put the butter and milk into a pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Take off the heat and wait until it has cooled



  • Whilst waiting for the butter/milk mixture to cool, put the flour, sugar, lemon zest, yeast, salt and dried fruit into a bowl and mix well together using your hands. Make a deep well in the middle
  • When the butter/milk mixture is lukewarm, beat in the egg and then pour the mixture into the well


  • Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together in the bowl until it becomes a soft dough – if it is still sticky add a bit of flour. If it is too dry and not holding together, keep adding a little milk until it forms one dough mix
  • Dust your hands and a clean surface with flour and turn the dough onto it
  • Knead for ten minutes and then return to the bowl
  • Cover with cling film and leave on the worktop for an hour to prove


  • When you return, your dough should have risen and when you get it out of the bowl you’ll smell this lovely rich aroma – enjoy it. Mmmmm!
  • Turn out onto the floured surface and punch it down to remove the air
  • Split the dough mix in half and put one to the side. Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangular shape which is approximately 36 x 18 cm
  • Roll out 200g marzipan to a similar size (you may need to knead it a bit first so it’s pliable) and lay it on top of the dough
  • Roll like a swiss roll (but without stressfully urgent need for speed – phew!) and then repeat with the other half of the dough mixture and marzipan


  • Using a sharp knife (mine wasn’t particularly sharp but it does make a difference) cut each roll into 8 even pieces. My rolls were slightly smaller towards their ends which resulted in a couple of dodgy pieces but they survived so don’t panic if they aren’t perfect


  • Arrange your buns in the tin(s) so that they are not touching but still pretty close
  • Cover with cling film again and leave on the worktop for 45 mins. After 20 mins preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. After the 45 mins, your buns should have risen significantly – they’re ready for baking


  • Bake for 20-25 mins until they’re beautifully golden brown – you may want to use the apricot glaze to help this process – but don’t leave them 30-35 mins like I did to try and get this colour. Even if it does look gorgeous.
  • As they’re baking, you can use the time to make your icing which is super simple. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add 2-3tsps lemon juice and mix together until you make a smooth glossy icing that is easy to drizzle but remains quite thick


  • Leave to cool for about 10 minutes and then remove them from the tin and put them on a wire rack (my cake tins rather handily had removable bases)


  • After another few minutes, drizzle your icing on the buns. You can either follow the swirl of the bun to accentuate the pattern or go diagonally across the lot as I did. Follow your artistic desires but in all honesty, either way, they’ll look great and they’ll still be scrumptious
  • I recommend that you eat them immediately, but if you have more restraint than I, make sure you eat them by close of play on the next day otherwise you’ll be chomping down on some pretty dense buns




1 thought on “Franny’s #GBBO Bakeathon Challenge – Week 3 (Chelsea Buns)

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