Sweet, sticky and fluffy Chelsea buns, filled with cranberries, orange zest, pistachios and marzipan. These buns will make the perfect Christmas morning breakfast or brunch! You can make them on the day, or chill them overnight and bake the next morning.
This post have been updated with new photos and text on 30/11/2020
What makes these orange and cranberry Chelsea buns so good?
This recipe really puts classic Chelsea buns into the corner, especially around Christmas. They are soft and super fluffy, moist and slightly gooey in the middle. With the filling made of fresh and dried cranberries, marzipan, orange zest and pistachios, these buns are definitely not lacking the festive flavours!
Tips for baking fluffy buns
- Check you have the right type of yeast- I always mention this, because it is super important! Check that you are using the right type of yeast, i.e. if the recipe calls for 'dried fast-action yeast', use exactly that. If you are using any other type, make sure to follow the instructions on the packet, as it may have to be activated first. Also, make sure your yeast is still in date!
- Go easy on the flour- Don't be tempted to add much more flour than the recipe calls for. It is a sticky and soft dough, but it will smooth out once it's been mixed/ kneaded .
- Slice the buns with dental floss- Yup, that's right. Use unflavoured dental floss instead of knife to slice perfectly even buns.
- Use the largest baking tray you can find- this will apply if you want to shape your buns into a Christmas tree. The buns will also puff up and expand as they prove, so they will take up a lot of space.
How to roll and shape the dough for these buns
Start by rolling the dough into a rectangle, roughly about 30 x 40 cm big. Don't be afraid to touch and handle the dough, or to stretch it a bit, if needed.
Once your rectangle is rolled, grate some chilled marzipan all over the surface. Chilling the marzipan makes it much easier to grate it, so make sure to do that.
Next, add the cranberries, orange zest and pistachios. Sprinkle the additional sugar on top, and get ready to roll! Just like with my twisted cinnamon and hazelnut bread recipe, start with the longer edge facing you.
Roll the dough tightly into a sausage/ log shape all the way up. Slice the log into half, then each half into a quarter. Each quarter then needs to be sliced into 3 pieces, leaving you with 12 pieces of dough/ buns in total.
You may have noticed that the tree is made out of 11 buns. That extra one is a treat for the cook! Arrange the buns into a Christmas tree shape on your large baking tray, leaving some space between the buns. Cover them with some kitchen foil and allow them to prove again.
Can this recipe be made ahead?
You can prepare the buns up to a step 5 in the recipe. Simply place the sliced buns arranged into a tree shape on a baking tray in your fridge overnight. The next day, take them out and bring to room temperature, before placing in the oven.
This dough is not suitable for freezing, so try to avoid doing that.
How to store these buns
These orange and cranberry buns are best served fresh, on the same day they were baked. However, if you have any left, simply place them into an air tight container. They can be kept there for up to 2- 3 days, but they will become less fluffy and more dry in texture.
As always, thanks for tuning in to today's post. If you try making this, or any other of my recipes, I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below, it always makes my day to hear your feedback.
Orange and cranberry Chelsea bun tree
- small saucepan
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment
- rolling pin
- baking paper
- large baking tray
- large bowl
- 275 ml milk any type
- 50 g butter cubed
- 450 g strong white bread flour
- 7 g dried fast-action yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 50 g golden caster sugar + 3 tbsp
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp oil for greasing
- 200 g marzipan chilled
- 1 large orange zested and juiced
- 100 g fresh cranberries
- 100 g dried cranberries
- 40 g pistachios chopped
- 3 tbsp apricot jam sieved
- 150 g icing sugar
- 1 large egg beaten
- Using a small saucepan, warm up the milk until hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add cubed butter. Swirl the saucepan a little bit, to encourage the butter to melt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of a freestanding mixer, mix the flour, yeast, 50g sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- When the milk is lukewarm, add it to the bowl with dry ingredients and mix in freestanding, electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment on a low speed to make a sticky dough. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for further 5-6 minutes, until your dough is smooth and stretchy and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. If making by hand, tip the dough onto your work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Transfer the dough into a clean, lightly greased large bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, until it doubled in size.
- Line large baking sheet with baking parchment. Tip the dough into floured surface and roll to rectangle about 30 x 40cm. Grate the marzipan over the surface and scatter over the orange zest, cranberries (reserve a handful of dried and fresh cranberries for later), half of pistachios and 3 tbsp caster sugar. From one of the longest sides, tightly roll up the dough into a sausage, pinching the dough together at the other end to seal the open edge.
- Using large, sharp knife, or flavourless dental floss, divide the dough into half. Divide each half into quarters, then divide each quarter into 3 pieces. You should have 12 equal pieces of dough. Turn them all cut side up and arrange on a baking sheet in a tree shape, using one piece for a trunk and leaving space between each bun for them to expand. Make sure the pinched edge on the outside of each bun is facing towards the centre of the tree, otherwise it may unravels as it cooks. You should have one bun left over (bonus bun for your efforts!), bake it along side. Cover the sheet with cling film and leave to prove for 30- 40 minutes, or until doubled in size and just touching.
- Heat the oven to 180 C (170 C fan). Lightly brush the buns with some egg wash and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- While the buns cook, heat the apricot jam with 2 tsp of water until runny, then set aside to cool a little. Mix the icing sugar with enough orange juice to make thick icing and transfer it to a small disposable piping bag or a plastic sandwich bag.
- When buns are cooked, cool them for about 5 minutes then brush over with the apricot glaze. Snip the corner of piping bag and drizzle over the buns. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and cranberries, and leave the icing to set for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- This recipe can also be baked in an ovenproof dish, without shaping it into a Christmas tree.
- You can make this recipe ahead. Follow the recipe all the way up until step 5. Once the buns have been sliced and placed on a baking tray, simply transfer them into fridge for overnight. Bring the buns to room temperature the next day, before placing them in the oven and baking as per the instructions.
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