Homemade Spelt Belgian Buns with Lemon Icing
These spelt Belgian buns are made in a bread machine and topped with the most divine, lemony-sour icing known to man.
Belgian buns are popular in the UK. You can’t walk past a bakery without turning to look at their magnificence. They are invariably huge; so big they are virtually impossible to ignore, and even harder to eat a whole one yourself (and coming from me, that’s saying something). Take a look at this lush Belgian bun from my favourite high street bakers. We have nothing like this in Sweden, and sometimes, I miss the UK so much.
My spelt Belgian buns are a little more on the modest side. Not so big that you feel 10lbs sliding on to your body but big enough to satisfy you.
What are Belgian Buns?
From what I can deduct, Belgian buns have diddly squat to do with Belgium. If any of my readers are from Belgium, I would love a little clarification. They perhaps do exist but aren’t called Belgian buns. A bit like “Swedish meatballs” that bear absolutely no resemblance at all to what we actually eat here in Sweden.
Seriously though, Belgian buns are just Chelsea buns, but with a luscious lemon icing and a glacé cherry. I am quite sure that isn’t going to help anyone very much, but if I were to describe these spelt Belgian buns, I would say that they have a similar texture and swirl to a cinnamon bun, minus the cinnamon (and plus the raisins).
Despite their wide availability in the UK, there are very few recipes for Belgian buns. So, I went with what I thought would work, trying to replicate the flavours I remember. And if I say so myself: a job well done. We certainly weren’t disappointed.
These Belgian buns can be made with spelt or regular white all-purpose (plain) flour. The dough can be prepared in a bread machine or using a stand mixer.
If you liked these, you will love my other sweet bread recipes:
Homemade Spelt Belgian Buns with Lemon Icing
Dough (see note 1):
- 150ml (⅔ cup) milk
- 50g (¼ cup) butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7g (2 tsp) dried yeast (see note 3)
- 400-450g (3⅓ - 3¾ cups) white flour (see note 2)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 25g (1¾ tbs) butter (melted)
- zest of one lemon
- 100g (3½ oz) raisins or sultanas
- 200g (7 oz) icing sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- touch of milk (if needed)
- glacé cherries
- Add the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla to your bread machine pan. Then add 400g (3⅓ cups) of flour, and the remaining dough ingredients. Take care to keep the yeast and salt separate as much as possible. Set your machine to make dough.
- On a very well-floured surface (the dough will be very sticky) work in just as much flour as you need to make a soft, pliable, but still a little tacky, dough.
- Add the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla to your stand mixer bowl. If the butter is straight out of the fridge, it won't combine with the other wet ingredients too much, but that's okay.
- Then add 450g (3¾ cups) of flour, and the remaining dough ingredients. The dough should be sticky, but if you need more flour, just add a little at a time. Be careful: too much flour will result in dry bread.
- Switch to a dough hook (if you have one) and allow the mixer to knead the dough for around 10 minutes, just until soft. The dough will still feel a little tacky to the touch, but will be able to slowly drop off the hook.
- Cover the dough and leave to proof (until it has doubled in size - usually about an hour).
- When the dough is ready, knock it back, and form into a rough ball.
Continue for both methods:
- When ready, line or grease two large baking trays and pre-heat the oven to 190°C / 375℉.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle shape (aim for about 45cm x 55cm as a rough guide).
- Melt the butter and then brush it all over the dough.
- Sprinkle your raisins over the top (leaving about ½ inch all the way round the edge), and then sprinkle over the zest.
- With the shorter side in front of you carefully roll the dough, making sure you pull it tight as you go.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into thin slices (you should get 14-18 buns, depending on how big they are).
- Pinch any edges together and use your hands to shape them into circles (they will already be round, but might need a little more shaping).
- Place them on the baking tray with plenty of space between.
- Bake for around 10-14 minutes, just until golden. Do not overbake - they are ready when the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Too much cooking will result in dry buns.
- Remove them from the oven, pop onto a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.
- Combine the icing sugar with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Gradually add more until a thick icing comes together. If it is still too thick, add a touch of milk (very small amounts at a time).
- Spread over the buns and place a glacé cherry on top of each one. Enjoy!
- I have made the dough using both a stand mixer and bread machine with identical results. I have not made the dough by hand, but I see no reason why you couldn't do so!
- You can use spelt or regular flour for this recipe (just use the same amount).
- In Sweden we have something called dried yeast. It is used both in warm liquid and allowed to proof, and it is also added directly to flour. I am aware that the US has two options for dried yeast, and I believe dry active yeast is the most similar to our dried yeast.