I suppose Chelsea bun is the British equivalent of a cinnamon roll, a soft yeasted dough, filled with buttery sweet raisins and coated with a simple sugar icing. I might dare to say that my vegan Chelsea Buns recipe is even better than cinnamon rolls!
If you are familiar with making cinnamon rolls, these will be a breeze! A rich, yet tender yeast dough,
If you haven’t tried cinnamon rolls yet, try my delicious overnight cinnamon rolls, or, if you fancy a traditional British bake, how about my rock cakes or vegan currant buns? And if you want something really easy, you can’t go wrong with a vegan Welsh Cake.
Table of Contents
What are Chelsea Buns?
Chelsea Buns are a soft, yeasty bun made with an enriched dough and filled with sweet raisins. Actually, traditionally currants but I don’t like currants. They are covered with a sticky glaze, and much like cinnamon rolls, are served singularly (in theory).
Chelsea Buns were invented sometime in the 17th Century by the long-gone Chelsea Bun House, in the same borough of London. At the time, they were favoured by the royal family, and, according to the Londonist, in their witty article about Chelsea Buns, they were considered the cronut of their time. (Note to self: if I read this in ten years, will cronuts still be a thing? Are they still a thing now?).
My favourite food writer, the esteemed Jane Grigson, calls Chelsea buns “the best of all buns, on account of their melting buttery sweetness” although I suspect she would frown upon my veganising of the traditional recipe.
But, if you are egg or dairy disinclined, why should you suffer? My recipe replaces the egg with natural yogurt, and the butter with the best vegan butter you can find in the supermarket (sadly this is sometimes just Flora). I sampled these with several carnivorous work colleagues who confirmed that they were extremely delicious.
These are really easy and fun to make, the dough requires only a little bit of kneading, nothing onerous at all, a couple of hours rise, then you roll this rich, sweet dough into a rectangle and sprinkle it with all the good stuff: vegan butter, sugar and raisins (or dried fruit of your choice). Roll up into a swiss roll, then cut into wedges and leave for one more short rise before baking. The final touch is a brush of a sweet sticky glaze, before returning to the oven for 5 more minutes and then they’re done!
I was surprised at just how easy these are to make, and, whilst they are best eaten on the same day, if you cover them up and leave them at room temperature, they are still perfectly edible the next day (although a little less soft).
- flour, yeast. The main components of any yeast-based product. I use the quick action yeast in a tin by Allinsons. I also use a strong white flour.
- butter and sugar. These go both in the dough and are sprinkled on the dough, so make sure to use the best brand of vegan butter you can find. I use golden caster sugar as well, but any white sugar will work.
- raisins. The star ingredient of the Chelsea bun. Traditionally made with currants, and you certainly can still do that.
- vegan natural yogurt. I use this to replace the egg element of an enriched dough.
This is ONLY a list of ingredients for the recipe; please see recipe card below for complete printable recipe.
Rub the sugar and vegan butter into the flour
Add the yeast and yogurt to the flour/butter, stir to make a rough dough
Knead into a soft dough, then let rise for a couple of hours
Roll the risen dough into a rectangle and spread with butter
Sprinkle raisins, mixed spice and sugar on top
Roll up the dough into a swiss roll, then cut into rounds, placing in a greased and floured baking tin. Leave to rise before baking.
Hint: make sure to butter and flour the tin well, these will definitely stick otherwise!
- raisins – you could use any dried fruit instead, currants, sultanas, chopped glace cherries, and I’ve even seen a recipe online using dates. Some also use candied peel.
I use an 8″ square brownie pan, that snuggly holds 9 Chelsea buns once they have risen.
Definitely best eaten on the same day, however you can cover them with clingfilm and still enjoy the next day!
I wouldn’t recommend freezing these.
If you don’t want to bake these the same day, once you have placed them in the baking tin, cover them tightly with tinfoil or clingfilm and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. Make sure to bring them up to room temperature whilst the oven is heating up.
Vegan Chelsea Buns
- 1 9" Brownie Pan well oiled and floured
- 345 g Plain flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- Lemon - zest only
- 1 teaspoon dried yeast
- 90 ml Soy milk - warm
- 115 g Butter - vegan, room temperature, divided into half
- 115 g Sugar - caster or white granulated, divided into half
- 60 ml Plain yogurt - vegan, I use Alpro
- 100 g Raisins - or currants or sultanas
- ½ tsp Mixed Spice
- 120 g Sugar - caster or white granulated
- 6 tbsp Soy milk - or plant-based milk of your choice
To make the sugar glaze
- Place the sugar and milk into a small saucepan and, whisking all the time, bring up to a gentle boil until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from heat and use as needed.
To make the Chelsea Buns
- Add the yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar to the warmed milk and leave to activate for 10 minutes or so, until bubbly and frothy.
- Place the flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Using one half of the vegan butter and sugar, rub this into the flour, just as you would if you were making pastry.
- Stir in the grated lemon zest.
- Whisk the yogurt into the now activated yeast and pour into the flour mixture.
- Combine with a wooden spoon, then lightly flour your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes, until you have a smooth, cohesive ball of dough. I do this in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl and leave dough to rise for 1-1½ hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll out into a rectangle, approx 16" long x 10" wide. The dough needs to be about ½" thick.
- Mix the remaining half of the sugar with the mixed spice and stir in the raisins.
- Spread the other half of the softened butter all over the rectangle, then sprinkle all the sugary raisins over the top.
- Flour your hands lightly and firmly roll the dough up, as if you were making a swiss roll.
- Cut the roll into 9 equal pieces and place in your oil/floured tin.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 15 minutes whilst you heat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 200c.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven, spread icing over the top and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool until you tear into them with joyful abandon.
Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.