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Manon’s Apricot & Cranberry Chai Chelsea buns 

Chai is a blend of spices used to make a milky ‘tea’ in many parts of the world. Here it lends a unique and delicious flavour to the fruity buns.  

Makes: 12 portions

Hands-on time: 45 minutes, plus rising  

Baking time: 20 minutes  

Skill level: Needs skill 

For the chai mix:

1/2 tsp ground cardamom  

1/2 tsp ground allspice 

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp ground cloves 

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger 

For the dough: 

225g semi-skimmed milk  

4 chai tea bags    

500g strong white bread flour  

90g unsalted butter, plus 50g for brushing 

1 tsp of salt 

40g caster sugar 

10g fast-action dried yeast 

1 large egg 

For the apricot jam:

500g fresh apricots, stoned and quartered 

1 vanilla pod  

275g jam sugar 

juice of 1/2 lemon  

For the marzipan:

370g ground almonds 

180g icing sugar  

180g caster sugar 

1 large egg 

1 tsp almond essence  

juice of 1/2 lemon  

For the filling: 

80g dried apricots, snipped into small pieces 

80g dried cranberries  

80g light muscovado sugar 

2 tsp chai mix (above) 

For the icing:

100g icing sugar  

1/2 tsp chai mix (above) 

You will also need:  

Jam or sugar thermometer 

300ml jam jars with lids x 2 

38 x 32cm baking sheet lined with baking paper 

Small disposable piping bag  

Step 1 – Mix the spices for the chai mix and set aside. To make the dough, warm the milk with the chai tea bags in a small pan over a low heat, until just hand hot. Remove from the heat and discard the tea bags. 

Step 2 – Put the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on a slow speed until combined. Add the sugar, yeast and egg and mix for about 30 seconds. Slowly add the milk and mix on the slowest speed for about 1 minute. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then increase the speed by one notch and mix for 5 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. 

Step 3 – Meanwhile, make the jam. Put the apricot pieces, vanilla pod and sugar in a medium pan and cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Mash the apricots a little, then increase the heat and bring to the boil for 5 minutes, until the apricots are soft, and the jam is thicker. It should reach 106°C on jam or sugar thermometer. Reserve 3–4 tablespoons of the jam and place the remainder in the 2 jars. Allow to cool, then seal and store. 

Step 4 – Make the marzipan. Combine the almonds and both sugars in a bowl, then stir in the egg, almond essence and lemon juice. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly, then roll the marzipan into 2 rectangles, each about 20 x 15cm, wrap them in cling film and set aside.  

Step 5 – Mix together the cranberries, apricots, sugar and 2 teaspoons of chai mix to make the filling. 

Step 6 – Lightly punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a floured worktop. Roll it into a rectangle of about 40 x 30cm. Melt the 50g of butter and brush it all over the dough. Sprinkle over the filling in an even layer, then lay the 2 rectangles of marzipan so that they cover the filling. With a longest side closest to your body, take hold of the long edge and roll up the dough away from you and to the centre. Then pick up the edge farthest from you and roll it inwards to meet the other half. 

Step 7 – Trim the ends of the roll, if necessary, then, using a sharp knife, cut the roll along its length to make 12 equal slices. Place the slices in a diamond pattern on the lined baking sheet, ensuring that each slice slightly touches the one next to it. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30 minutes, until well risen or doubled in size.   

Step 8 – Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  

Step 9 – While the buns are still warm, brush over the reserved jam. Mix together the icing sugar and spices with 2–3 teaspoons of water to give a thick pouring consistency. Place in the piping bag, snip the end and drizzle over the warm buns. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.