BC20 Pimlico Buns

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On the main road from Pimlico to Chelsea, just by Ranelagh House and Gardens is Jew's Row. It's by Grosvenor Row and not far from the Chelsea Hospital. 

Back in the early 18th century, The Chelsea Bun House was situated in Jew's Row. Frequented by Royalty - Georges II and III, as well as Princess Caroline, Lord Ranelagh and Jonathan Swift, it was famous for its Easter Hot Cross Buns as well as the distinctive bun that took its name into history - the Chelsea Bun. 

The business survived until 1839, when the Chelsea Bun House was finally demolished. Founded by the Louden family,  David Louden eventually sold out to Richard Hand, known as 'Captain Bun'. Richard's wife continued to run the Bun House after his death. From son to son, the business continued until it closed in 1839 when the property reverted to the Crown and all the equipment was auctioned off. 

The Chelsea Bun House.

The Chelsea Bun recipe and product we are familiar with today are remarkably similar to that produced when the Bun House was at the height of its business. Except perhaps today, we'd expect our Chelsea Buns to be fresh and not stale - a criticism expressed by Jonathan Swift, when he wrote in A Journey to Stella (Tuesday 28th April 1711):

"A fine day, but begins to grow a little warm and that makes your little fat Presto sweat in the forehead. Pray, are not the fine buns sold here in our town; was it not Rrrrrrrrrare Chelsea Buns? I bought one today in my walk. It cost me a penny; it was stale, and I did not like it" 

But wait....these are called 'Pimlico Buns'

Yes, these Chelsea-style Buns are moving up a level, changing their name but retaining their close association with a traditional bake. 

Kitty Tait in 'Breadsong' (2021) refers to a 'next level' Chelsea Bun. I've adopted her basic formula, adapted it and, dare I say it...I think I might have improved on it! That's for you to decide. 

Either way, they can't be called 'Chelsea Buns' because they're not...so, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls....I give you....

But, instead of being always 'Made in Chelsea', they're two miles up the road..  and, never 'Baked in Pimlico'. 

The Pimlico Bun is best eaten fresh. They do not have a long shelf-life. You may wish to scale the formula down. 



We start with the dough...

500 gms strong white bread flour

200 gms lukewarm whole milk

80 gms caster sugar

10 gms crushed sea salt

127 gms unsalted butter

2 eggs

7 gms instant active yeast

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. 

Knead until you have a soft and silky dough.

Place in a slightly-oiled bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

Then we move on to preparing the fruit...

75 gms sultanas

75 gms raisins

50 gms dried cranberries

1 teaspoon garam masala

120 gms boiling water

An Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea bag

zest of one lemon - sprinkle the chopped zest over the top of the apple 

Add the dried fruit and the tea bag to a large bowl. 

Stir in the boiling water and the garam masala

Cover land leave overnight


Prepare the following: 

1 very thinly sliced apple, peeled and cored
50 gms melted unsalted butter
50 gms soft brown sugar
1 level tablespoon of ground cinnamon
chopped zest of one lemon

One deep-sided roaster/tray/dish lined with parchment paper. 

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a rectangle, abut 1 cm thick. It should roll out to about 35 cms by 25 cm. 

Paint the top side with the melted butter. 

Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the butter. 

Lay out the apple slices and then drain the fruit. (remove the tea bag and throw away along with any remaining infusion liquid)

Sprinkle the fruit over the dough. 

Roll tightly along the long side so you have a 'swiss roll' of dough. 

Measure the dough and then cut it into twelve equal pieces. 

Place each piece flat side upwards into the tray, keeping the open edge inwards and abut 1 cm apart from the next spiral. 

Cover and place in a warm spot for 45 - 60 minutes to allow them to double in size. 

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C and bake for 15 minutes. Finish off for the final 5 minutes at 190⁰C. Bake until golden brown. If you find the fruit is burning, place a sheet of parchment paper over the top as a shield. 

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray. 


After they've been out of the oven for about 10 minutes, brush over with a glaze made from a boiled mixture of 

50 gms water
1 tablespoon apricot conserve

When they've cooled drizzle an icing mixture over the buns made from 100 gms icing sugar and 1 tablespoon water which has been stirred into a paste.

Allow to cool before dividing and eating....

Your 'Passport to Pimlico'.....Pimlico Buns. 

And from the taste testers?

Happy baking 

And for printing?



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