Mince Pie Chelsea Buns

I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of food blogging here and admit that in the case of some food items, there are existing recipes that simply cannot be beaten.  All you would do is alter them, but you would be very unlikely to improve them.  But, thankfully, they often can be adapted.  Whether it’s that perfect chocolate sponge which can be filled and iced differently or flavoured with a hint of orange or a drizzle of brandy, or a beautifully buttery shortbread which can be made in a number of shapes and thicknesses, or iced and filled with jam, there is always some leeway for evolution.

This recipe is one of those adaptations, and a fantastic way to use up Christmas leftovers.  As you may know, I make my own mincemeat and mince pies every year, but more often than not I make far too much, and with little need for yet more dried fruit in the leaner months of self-restraint it can often end up in the bin.  This is a brilliant recipe for using up that leftover mincemeat, although it would of course work with jarred mincemeat, or even a little crumbled up Christmas pudding.

The buns are pure Paul Hollywood (although I’m always fairly certain these people get a bit of a helping hand with their classic recipes) but it is a ruddy good Chelsea bun mix and it’s also really straightforward, but the filling and zesty orange icing are all mine, so I’m fairly sure I’ve added enough value to make these buns worthy of inclusion in our blog.

As you may have gathered, we’ve had a bit of a busy month, first trotting around Basel and going to my work Christmas party in the Cotswolds, and then working really hard to get finished up with work for the Christmas break and getting the house and fridge ready for a big family Christmas.  But don’t think we haven’t been working on recipes – they just haven’t quite made it here!

Mince Pie Chelsea Buns

Mince Pie Chelsea Buns

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7g (1 sachet) fast acting dried yeast
  • 300ml milk
  • 40g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 25g butter
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 tbsp mincemeat
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 200g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of one orange

Instructions

  1. Mix together the flour and salt, then add the yeast and mix well.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the butter. Put over a low heat and warm until the butter has melted.
  3. Mix the warm milk and butter into the flour mixture, then add the egg.
  4. Put the bowl into your mixer with the dough hook installed, and allow it to knead away for about 20 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, lightly flour the board and knead the dough by hand for around 20 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a bowl and cover then leave to rise for at least an hour (or several if you live somewhere cold) until the dough has at least doubled in size.
  6. Roll the dough out into a large, even rectangle. Melt the 25g butter and spread over the dough using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon and then the mincemeat.
  7. Roll the longest side over and over towards you, as tightly as you can, like a swiss roll. Once you have your long roll, slice into 9 even pieces.
  8. Butter a square or round tin and lay the pieces into it, one cut side down, one cut side up. Cover again with cling film and leave for a second prove for around an hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200c and pop the buns in for around 25 minutes or until golden and baked through. If they're getting too brown, cover with tin foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Once removed from the oven, spread the tops with apricot jam and allow to cool.
  11. Zest the orange into the icing sugar and then add the juice from the orange. Mix together to form the icing. If you think it's a little thick for your liking, add a little water. Drizzle over the buns and allow to set. Or dig in. They will rise up and bake together, meaning you have the joy of pulling apart these sweet sticky buns before digging in. You might wish to have a napkin handy...
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Pesto and Bacon Chicken

We all have one of these pesto and bacon chicken recipes don’t we? Or at least some sort of recipe whereby we stuff a chicken breast with something gooey then wrap it in some sort of porky meat.  Delicious when done well; dry and horrible when done poorly (usually when cooking for someone you want to impress).

This recipe uses homemade pesto, although your can buy your own (but seriously, make ours, it’s really easy and very tasty indeed) and smoked streaky bacon, but feel free to riff with unsmoked bacon, non-streaky bacon or even prosciutto or pancetta.  And you may need a couple of cocktail sticks.  Try not to overcook it though because it will turn dry and horrible pretty rapidly.

Scared yet? Let’s begin.

Pesto and Bacon Chicken

Pesto and Bacon Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • about 3-4 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 2-3 rashers smoked streaky bacon per person
  • 2 cocktail sticks
  • a little olive oil

Instructions

  1. Unless you're preparing this several hours ahead, take the chicken breasts and bacon out of the fridge nice an early - an hour before in a cold kitchen won't do you any harm.
  2. Carefully, slice the chicken open along one side, but not all the way to the edges, so you're creating a pocket. When I say 'carefully, I mean don't cur yourself but also look where you're going. If you can get the slice in the chicken to pass through the middle depth wise, you have more chance of an evenly cooked chicken with the filling in the middle. Bear in mind that's it's to be stuffed too, so you need the right balance between having a pocket big enough to without the stuffing falling out everywhere, and actually making enough room to get lots of pesto in there.
  3. Next, spoon in and spread around the pesto.
  4. Stuff it as full as you like, but it's good to have a decent enough layer which will also let you close the pocket up again with relative ease.
  5. Now, grab your bacon. If the rashers are quite wide, cut them in half lengthways, then start to wrap them around the chicken at a slight angle, so that the next slice can join onto the first.
  6. Using cocktail sticks, skewer the chicken in a way that can take in the bacon and close that pocket you've made. 2 -3 cocktail sticks should be enough, but it's a good idea to count them so you can tell whomever you're serving how many they're looking for to avoid any unpleasant surprises!
  7. Preheat the oven to 180c. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry the chicken on both sides until the bacon is browning and crispy.
  8. Place on a baking tray in the centre of the oven for around 10 minutes (less if you cook it in the pan for a long, long time) and then check one they're cooked through by sticking a sharp knife into the thickest part of the breast to make sure none of the chicken is translucent. Cooking it through should be easiest if the chicken is an even temperature to start with by being out of the fridge.
  9. Serve with sweet potato wedges or pasta and peas and enjoy!
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If you like pesto, you could also try our Salmon and Broccoli Cous Cous Bowl or Pesto Chicken Quesadilla.