In my book you can never have too many recipes that involve mincemeat. I adore mince pies, of course. And this mincemeat crumble tart is now an annual highlight of the post-Christmas season. But this week I also hit upon the idea of using the mincemeat in Chelsea buns. Because mincemeat basically is Chelsea bun filling, isn't it? But with nice little crunchy nuts. And rum. I also added some grated apple, inspired by the same combo in the crumble tart.
I was really pleased with the results - they were really quite delicious. The fruity, spicy filling, the sticky glazed top, the sweet, soft bread - it all came together beautifully. They tasted like Chelsea buns, rather than mince pies, so they'd be perfect for anyone with mincemeat fatigue. (Not me, obviously, but Mr 'Splorer was looking less and less impressed every time a tray of mince pies was whipped out of the oven.)
As a starting point for the buns, I used the recipe for cinnamon rolls from our fantastic bread course at Cambridge Cookery School. If you can judge the quality of a cookery workshop on how well used the recipes are a year later, then I think our splattered, dough covered recipe sheets speak volumes. The recipes really work (even without expert supervision) - I really must go back for another one of their courses.
Mincemeat and apple Chelsea buns
25g fresh yeast*
425g plain flour
45g caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
a pinch of salt
40g soft butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 small apples
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons caster sugar
Crumble the yeast into the flour. Heat the butter, milk and caster sugar until it's warm but not hot (just above blood temperature). Add the egg. Add to the flour with the spice and salt. Mix and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for five minutes. It will be quite a sticky dough, so you might need to use more flour, but only add as much as you need. Put it back in the bowl. Cover it and leave to rise for an hour.
Peel and grate the apples finely. Give it a bit of a squeeze to get rid of the juice.
Gently transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Cut it in half. Roll half out into a square, about a centimetre thick. Spread over half of the butter and then the mincemeat and apple. Sprinkle on half of the sugar and spices. Roll up like a Swiss roll. Cut into 8 slices and put on a baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Leave to rise for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Heat the milk and sugar together until the sugar melts and brush the glaze over the buns.
* If you don't have fresh yeast, you can use 14g dried active yeast. It will need to be activated and the way we did it at the cookery school was to put it in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of golden syrup and a splash of warm water. Then you cover it and leave it until bubbles appear on the surface.
These are best the day they are made, but you can perk them up for a few more days by heating them up in the oven before eating.