Pop Culture

How to Bake Belgian Buns from 'The Great British Bake Off'

The technical challenge gave contestants their final head-scratcher moment.

November 29, 2021
Photo by Paul Hollywood

Just as the tryptophan wore off on Friday morning, home cooks and bakers everywhere gathered around to watch the finale of ‘The Great British Bake Off’. “You’re going to have to use your baking knowledge on this one because we’ve taken out most of the method,” said co-judge Paul Hollywood. For the technical challenge, the three remaining contestants—Chegs, Crystelle, and Giuseppe—needed to make one dozen Belgian buns filled with sultanas, which are a type of dried fruit similar to raisins or currants, and lemon curd. Belgian Buns are often compared to Chelsea Buns, which generally contain a brown sugar filling, dried fruit, and apricot jam.

But what are Belgian Buns as seen on The Great British Bake Off, anyway? According to Paul Hollywood:

“A Belgian bun is like a Chelsea bun, but with icing and a cherry on the top and filled with homemade lemon curd and juicy sultanas. The trick to a perfect Belgian bun lies in the roll – you want it tight, but not too tight. The roll needs to give the dough room to expand during proving, so that the buns rise outwards rather than being forced upwards, and so that the end of the roll stays stuck in place.”

For perfect GBBO-worthy buns, the goal is to get the chewiness from the dough, the tartness from lemon curd, and the sweetness from the icing. Crystelle noted that the key to making a good Belgian Bun is rolling and kneading the dough excessively to thoroughly work all of the glutens. The result will be a softer, springier roll that is quite flexible.

When judging, Paul and co-judge Prue Leith looked for a good lemon curd, a thin dough rolled into several spirals, and buns that were not massively overbaked (sorry Giuseppe). In the end, Crystelle was awarded first place in the technical challenge, which was a first for her after 10 weeks of competition.

Did you watch the finale of 'The Great British Bake Off'? Let us know in the comments below!

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Former Food52 Staff Editor