This month’s WTSIM revolves around all things gloriously yeasty. My contribution is my first attempt at a British treat, the humble Chelsea bun.
Like Harold Crick, the familiar taste of a Chelsea bun, sticky with sugar and plump with dried fruit, can sometimes feel like a life saver. Not to be giving too much importance to baked goods in the day to day tribulations of life, but it’s good to stop and smell the cinnamon every once in awhile.
When B and I watched Stranger than Fiction, I marvelled at the fact that it wasn’t just a movie that exceeded my expectations due to the clever writing and wonderful acting, but here was a character, Ana Pascal, whom I kind of also identified with. Having dropped out of college, she goes about life the only way she knows how : following her passion for baking and feeding people; bringing cookie-crumbed smiles to their faces. (And is it just me who thinks that it’s incredibly romantic to receive a bunch of ‘flours’ from a guy?)
People sometimes ask me how I got into the whole cooking thing. To be honest, there was no direct path or eureka moment. No blinding bright light; no bag of sugar that rained down from the sky. And no big plan, I’m afraid. Give me a simple life and a peaceful death, as the Sundays might say. I’d always loved to cook and bake, for others. When I graduated from uni, I fell into it on a full time basis and thought I would see where it could lead from there. Several years down the track and I’m still enjoying it. There are some aspects of the industry I don’t completely agree with but I’m sure everyone gets a bit of that, in whatever job they’re in. And occasionally you will taste the bitter sting of someone’s angry words when mistakes are made, but all you can do is try the best you can even if that’s not always considered good enough.
So yesterday, I found myself cracking 130 eggs, to be mixed with 5.6kg of sugar and the juice of too many hand-squeezed lemons for some tarts. I also used about 9.3kg of Valrhona chocolate in preparation for a special dessert – and that’s barely 50% of the task completed thus far! It’s currently an adventure of calculator-driven proportions.
Despite this, crazily enough, I can still come home after a long week and feel like doing a bit of baking on my days off. Hence my blog, and these buns. I didn’t grow up with Chelsea buns, but I did have quite a few glazed hot cross buns and raisined snails as a kid, and Chelsea buns seem to be a combination of these. According to Sue Lawrence, whose recipe I used, these buns originate from The Chelsea Bun House in Chelsea (hence the name), and were so popular during the eighteenth century that there were often long queues of people waiting to buy these buns.
They are pretty easy to whip up. All you really need is a bit of time to let the dough prove. The result is not so much life changing, rather life affirming, which should be a good enough reason to try making these at least once