Recipe: Tangzhong Chelsea Buns

Recipe: Tangzhong Chelsea Buns



Tangzhong is an ancient Asian bread-making method which pre-cooks a portion of the flour with a liquid. This method increases the amount of liquid that the flour can absorb and creates a structure to the dough. It leads to a super soft bread, which tends to stay moist and fresh for longer.

These Tangzhong Chelsea buns are light and fluffy and deliciously stuffed full of fruit. I know it looks like it, but they really don’t require a great deal of effort - especially if you have a mixer - as most of the time the dough is hanging out in a nice warm bed, rising, whilst you get on with life.

A great tip is to make the dough and filling in the afternoon (up to step 6) and then pop it all in the fridge until morning when a quick roll out and proof will give you warm buns for brunch.


Makes: 12 buns



500g organic strong white bread flour (I use organic no. 4 from Shipton Mill)   

300ml whole milk - use Fen Farm Dairy raw milk if you can!

30g golden caster sugar

1tsp fine sea salt

7g fast action dried yeast

75g unsalted Bungay Butter

2tsp vanilla extract

1 free range egg

Fruit filling

55g sultanas

55g raisins

40g currants

40g mixed peel

40g dried figs

40g natural colour glacé cherries

1 piece stem ginger

150g muscovado sugar

3/4tsp mixed spice

1 orange

1 unpeeled cooking apple

1tbsp grated unsalted Bungay Butter

2tbsp whiskey (or replace with water) 1/2 tbsp of the stem ginger syrup


100g icing sugar

1-2 tbsp whole milk



1. First make the fruit filling. Roughly chop the cherries and figs to about the same size as the sultanas. Finely chop the stem ginger. Grate the apple (skin on). Zest the orange. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. You can store this mix in a sterilised kilner jar for 2-3 months or in the fridge for up to 1 week. Leftovers are amazing in porridge or mixed into apple crumble filling!
2. Now, the Tangzhong. In a small saucepan mix 25g of flour with 125ml of milk, whisking until smooth. Place on a medium heat and continue whisking until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of custard and is 65 degrees c. Remove from the heat and scoop into a bowl and cover with clingfilm, pressing the cling onto the surface of the mix to stop it forming a skin.
3. Use the same saucepan to combine the remaining milk, the butter, and vanilla, on a medium- low heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
4. Wait for the Tangzhong and the milk to cool to around 24 degrees c/lukewarm to touch. If it’s too hot, it will upset the yeast when you mix the dough.
5. Put the remaining flour and sugar into a the bowl of a mixer, fitted with the kneading hook attachment (you can also do this by hand, but it will take a couple of minutes longer). Now add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg, Tangzhong (use a spatula to scrape all the mix off the cling film too) and milk mix.
6. Set the mixer on a low speed until the flour mix has formed a rough, shaggy dough, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the bowl and be smooth and elastic.

7. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place at around 22-24 degrees c. This can be an airing cupboard or pop in the oven with the light on and a shallow tray of boiling water in the bottom. Leave the dough to rise for 1-1/2 hours until roughly doubled in size.

8. At this point you can scoop the dough out of the bowl and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight before proceeding to shape and proof the buns.

9. Lightly flour the counter and roll the dough to a roughly 30cm x 60cm rectangle. Lift the sides of the dough slightly off the counter as you go, to prevent over-stretching the dough. Lay the dough with the long sides at the top and bottom (landscape).

10. Spread 400g of the fruit mix evenly across the dough, right up to the edges. Starting from the bottom, roll the dough bottom to top to form a large, tight sausage roll.

11. Generously butter a 20 x 30cm deep baking tray (it wants to be at least 5cm deep). Slice the dough roll into 12 equally sized buns and place 3 x 4 into the tray, cut side facing up.

12. Cover lightly with cling film and put in a warm place (as at 6 above) for around 2 hours. The buns should have risen and be touching. This may take longer in a cool room. Be patient!

13. Preheat your oven to 180c/170c fan. Pop in the buns and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

14.Mix the icing sugar and milk until a smooth paste and drizzle over the buns.


These buns are best eaten warm with a nice cup of tea.


 Shona x


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