Chelsea Buns for The Secret Garden

April 28, 2014

As a child one of my favourite books was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. The story of two children living in a house on the Yorkshire moors who come together by accident and discover the delights of good food and fresh air. Mary has come from India where she has been spoiled and come to expect everyone to do everything for her. Colin lives in the house and is considered crippled. He has given up on life and stays indoors, a secret in the house. The two children meet and begin their adventures outside, finding a secret garden which they breath life into.

The book delights in good food and while at first Mary is disdainful towards her food, often wasting it, with fresh air she is soon devouring every mouthful. Along with the plants and flowers the children nourish in the garden, we see their appetites growing and they discover the delights of fresh milk, porridge, home made bread and jam and currant buns. Dickon, a child who lives in a small four room cottage nearby befriends the children. The family are not well off, but his mother often sends him out to the garden with a pail of fresh milk and currant buns wrapped in a blue and white napkin for them to share. I suspect these meals were magical, hidden in a secret garden with freshly baked food sitting in the sunshine, they must have been devoured fast.

When I saw that Galina from Chez Maximka and Chris from Cooking Around the World were running a ReadCookEat challenge, I had to join in. The idea is to post a recipe that is based on a book and I decided to make some currant buns for Mary, Colin and Dickon to enjoy in The Secret Garden. I choose to make Chelsea buns as I had never tried these before and they looked lovely. I can see these being unwrapped from that blue and white napkin and devoured.
Chelsea BunsDevoured they were, by my son. I put them in a tin to keep for later and found that all but three had been eaten. I think fresh air had created a hearty appetite in him and these managed to fill the space in his tummy. I have always been wary of making bread and other things with yeast, but these actually worked really well. I shall definitely be trying more bread style baking in the future.

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns

A bun with an inner wrapping of dried fruit and mixed peel.
Author Alison


  • 225 g 8oz strong white flour
  • 200 g 7oz dried yeast
  • ½ tsp fresh salt
  • 15 g ½ oz butter
  • 1 egg
  • 75 g 3 oz dried fruit
  • 2 tbsp mixed peel
  • 50 g 2oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 100 ml milk
  • Melted butter.


  • Place 50g (2 oz) of the flour in a bowl with the yeast and mix with the milk. The milk should be at room temperature.
  • In another bowl rub the butter into the rest of the flour then add the flour and yeast mix and the egg.
  • Knead into a dough, cover the bowl with cling film and leave the mixture to rise.
  • When it has doubled in size knead then roll into a rectangle.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas Mark 5.
  • Mix the dried fruit, peel and the sugar.
  • Melt a small amount of butter and brush over the dough.
  • Sprinkle the fruit and sugar mix onto the dough and then roll the lot up to form a sausage shape.
  • Cut the dough into about nine even parts and seal the edge with water.
  • Place the buns on a baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • The top can be glazed with honey if desired.


13 responses to “Chelsea Buns for The Secret Garden”

  1. Oh, that looks delicious – I love a fruity bun 🙂 I loved The Secret Garden too, I must find a copy as I’m sure my 7 year old would love it too.

  2. Mummy Zen says:

    I loved that book too. These look very tasty and I have some left-over mixed peel that I was wondering what to do with – I think these may be it!

  3. Chris says:

    Oh, I am glad you could join for ReadCookEat. Your Chelsea Buns look good and … I wish I had one right now.

  4. Galina V says:

    Thank you for joining in our challenge, and what a tasty entry! I would happily eat a bun or two or three either outside in the garden, or at home, with a cup of tea. I have never made Chelsea buns, but I should remedy that. They look lush!

  5. Choclette says:

    Oh yes, I loved the Secret Garden too and read it several times. Strangely I don’t remember the current buns. guess I’ll just have to read it again! I made Chelsea buns recently on a baking course, so good but really quite simple. Do keep going with the yeast bakery, it can be so rewarding.

  6. What a fabulous idea for a linky. I love the thought of reacting all those cakes & biscuits from my Enid Blyton days and your Chelsea Buns look delicious!

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