Chelsea Buns (British Cinnamon Rolls with Raisins) Recipe

British Bites

Classic british dishes updated for the modern American cook.

Chelsea Buns (British Cinnamon Rolls with Raisins) Recipe

[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

Sharing the same name as a famed London neighborhood, these buns are glazed with sugary icing while they're still warm to make them especially sweet. They are like a cinnamon bun but have a less gooey, more sticky property. If you have less of a sweet tooth, simply disregard the final step of icing them—they will still be sweet, just less tacky.

Chelsea buns are great at any time of day, but they really shine as a mid-morning snack. The sweetness will easily get you to lunch, but they're not too heavy. To counter the sweetness a nice hot mug of strong tea is ideal—a good quality Earl Grey would be great, but even a strongly steeped PG Tips could do the trick. Traditionally these rolls are made with currants, but if you don't have any of those, raisins work perfectly well. Personally, I think a combination of golden and dark raisins is the way to go.

If you're having people over and want to make these buns the night before, you can roll them, slice them, and place them in the prepared dish the night before. Let them rise and come up to room temperature before you bake them.

  • Yield:makes 8 buns
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours 30 minutes


  • For the Dough:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the Icing:
  • 4 tablespoons confectioners sugar


  1. 1.

    In a large bowl combine the flour and salt, then make a well in the center. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into the center of the well. In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 cups milk over medium heat until the butter has melted and the milk is just warm. Allow to cool for 2 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Pour the milk into the center of the flour well. Mix gently with a wooden spoon then add beaten egg. Mix until a dough forms. Knead with hands for 5 minutes then place in a clean bowl, and coat with thin layer of vegetable oil. Leave to rise in a warm place, covered with a clean dish towel, until roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  3. 3.

    Press down dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface. Roll dough with a rolling pin into a rough 8- by 13-inch rectangle with the large edge running parallel to the counter's edge. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Brush dough with butter, making sure to leave a 1-inch border along the top edge. Add raisins and brown sugar on top of butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Gently roll away from you to form a 13 inch-wide tube. Use a thin, sharp knife to cut the tube into 8 equal pieces.

  4. 4.

    Butter an 8- by 11-inch baking dish with remaining tablespoon of butter, then place rolls in buttered dish. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Let the buns rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 30 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

  5. 5.

    Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup milk and the confectioner's sugar in a saucepan and whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Pour over Chelsea buns while still warm. Serve warm.