This could have been an entry for Sam's fabulous "Fish & Quips" event on the occasion of St. George's Day, to prove that English food is not a joke, but I miserably failed in my time management, despite the fact that I made these fabulous buns ages ago. I never knew that they were something British either, or at least, that they would be, had I stuck to the original recipe. In principle, the dish behind this delicacy are Chelsea Buns which in turn are American cinnamon rolls. I wouldn't be surprised if a similar bun existed somewhere in Polynesia or the deep dark forests of Amazonia in one way or another, as many cultures seem to nurture a similar concept of a yeast dough spread out in a square, topped with stuff, usually dried fruit, rolled up and cut into individual rounds which are then baked separately. In Austria, they are called "Nussschnecken" or "Zimtschnecken", ie nut or cinnamon snails.
My Mum brought a recipe for a very plain variation on this bun, called butter rose: it does without all the fruit and uses nothing but butter (and plenty!) and cinnamon as a filling, and also stacks the buns neatly in a round baking dish to make the individual buns appear as flowers in a bouquet. When she came over, we decided to have a bit of a bake-off and, using the same dough, come up with our own individual flavour variations. Having spotted Hot Cross Buns with apple and cinnamon in the stores before Easter, I saw this as a way to circumvent all that candied peel I so loathe - and what can I say, my version won hands down. Seeing how incredibly easy they are to make, I don't know why they're not a staple in every household, but I am only saying that because I have made peace with yeast dough over these past few weeks... and because my Mum made the dough and all I had to do was stuff it and roll it up!
Bouquet of apple & cinnamon Chelsea buns
500 g plain flour
40 g live yeast
100 g butter
40 g caster sugar
1 medium potato (raw and peeled)
1 generous pinch salt
125 ml milk
For the filling:
150 g butter (melted)
3 apples (cored and cut into small pieces)
3 handful almond slivers
3 handful raisins
Work 1 tsp of sugar into the yeast until the latter liquifies - combine to a smooth paste, then add 5 tbsp of the lukewarm milk. Leave to rise in a warm place, for example your oven (50C, no fan, door ajar).
Combine flour, sugar and salt.
In another bowl, mix melted butter with milk, egg and yolk, then add the yeast mix and the finely grated potato.
Add the dry ingredients gradually. Cover with a towel and leave to rise until it has at least doubled in size (ca. 45 minutes).
Spread on a clean work surface to ca. 60 x 40 cm. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with apples, almonds, raisins and cinnamon.
Roll up lengthways, then cut into 6 cm slices.
Arrange loosely in a round, buttered baking tin, cover with a towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Place in the pre-heated oven (175C) and bake until starting to brown (ca. 25 minutes)
Leave to cool and serve slightly warm.