Muskoka Chelsea Buns

Muskoka Chelsea Buns

These Muskoka Chelsea Buns are a popular sweet treat in my part of Canada – the Muskoka region of central Ontario. They are sweet, sticky yeast rolls, with a brown sugar, cinnamon and raisin filling. Delicious!

In a few short days, Canada will be celebrating one of those milestone birthdays – her 150th! I guess as far as countries go, she’s a bit of a youngster still, but regardless, it’s a big deal here and we’re celebrating our great country a little more than usual this year :)

I thought it only fitting that I did a little food celebration of my own. I started thinking about uniquely Canadian food, but I’ve already shared my peanut butter version of our Nanaimo Bar and of course, my homemade Authentic Canadian Poutine.

So I decided to start with something that’s unique to my little part of Canada, here in Muskoka, Ontario. In bakeries all over Muskoka, Chelsea Buns are a standard offering. They are part of the food fabric here and definitely worthy of our celebration.

For the uninitiated, Muskoka Chelsea Buns are probably best described as sticky buns meets British-style chelsea buns. British style chelsea buns feature currants and dried mixed fruit. I imagine somewhere along the way, someone decided to ditch the dried fruit and currants in favour of raisins and maraschino cherries and then, in a moment I highly respect as a sweet-loving baker, decided to bathe the whole thing in a sticky brown sugar coating.

And so, as I imagine the story goes, they popped up in some small bakery and caught on. And others made their own version and before long, these Muskoka Chelsea Buns became a nostalgic part of the “summers in Muskoka” experience that Muskoka has so long been known for.

Muskoka Chelsea Buns

Cook’s Notes for Muskoka Chelsea Buns

There’s really no definitive way to make a Muskoka Chelsea Bun, so go with what you like. I think maraschino cherries are liked by most and they are a nice and pretty addition. Raisins are great too, but you can certainly omit if you’re not a raisin lover. As for the nuts, I enjoy chelsea buns both with and without nuts. If you’d like to add some, sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecan in to the bottom of the pan with the cherries, so they end up on the top when you invert the buns after baking. You could also use pecan halves and lay them out in a pretty pattern. Your call.

As noted, these buns will end up inverted at the end, so remember that the pretty part is at the bottom as you’re preparing them. So be sure to add the stuff you want on the top to the bottom :) Likewise, when cutting the rolls, be sure to place the cut side down in the pan.

As for pan size, this recipe is best made in a 10-inch springform pan. Since springform pans are not usually very well sealed, parchment lining is not really optional here, as you definitely want to keep the ooey gooey brown sugar sauce with your buns and not have it leak out.

Despite the parchment lining, I like to place the springform pan on a baking sheet while it bakes, just in case!

Muskoka Chelsea Buns

Muskoka Chelsea Buns

Muskoka Chelsea Buns

Course: Snack
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: Muskoka chelsea buns, Muskoka style sweet buns
Prep Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 11 buns
Energy: 424 kcal
Author: Jennifer

Sticky buns, with a brown sugar, butter filling and raisins. Topped with maraschino cherries and nuts, if you like. The type of Chelsea Buns you'll find in the Muskoka region of central Ontario.




  • 3 cups + all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg


  • 1/2 cup butter cold
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins (if using)
  • 6-8 maraschino cherries (if using)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pecans chopped, or walnuts(if using)


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water, milk and butter until too hot touch. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm (about 120F).
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a kneading hook, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour, the white sugar, salt and the instant yeast. When the milk mixture has cooled enough, add to the flour mixture, along with the egg. Mix until combined. Start adding additional flour in small increments and knead until you have a smooth, moist (but not sticky) dough. Remove dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a 10-inch springform pan by lightly greasing, then lining completely with one sheet of parchment paper, The parchment should completely cover the bottom and most of the sides. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and cold butter. Cut the cold butter in to the brown sugar using a pastry cutter or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbs.
  5. Remove 1/2 cup of the brown sugar/butter mixture and scatter it on to the bottom of your parchment lined pan. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of hot tap water over-top and stir to combine in to a bit of a sauce. It will have bits of un-dissolved butter, but don't worry about that. I doesn't need to be smooth. If using cherries and/or nuts, scatter them on top of the bit of sauce. Set aside

  6. When dough has risen, remove to a floured surface and roll in to a 11x16 rectangle. Even scatter the remaining brown sugar/butter mixture over the dough, then, starting with the long edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Trim both ends slightly to even up, then slice the dough log in to 11 equal-width slices. Place each slice, cut side down, in to your prepared pan, on top of the sauce and cherries/nuts, if using.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Cover pan with a clean tea towel and set aside to rise until puffy and almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

  9. Place pan with rolls on top of a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until deep golden and hollow sounding when tapped. You may want to check at the 30 minute mark and if already well browned, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.

  10. Remove from oven and immediately invert on to a piece of parchment paper. Immediately, loosen the side of the springform pan and remove, then remove the parchment paper and discard. Allow to cool completely before eating (to avoid a gummy dough). If you like you can re-warm. Serve with a bit of butter, if you like.

Tags from the story


    • Hi Marilyn, I use a springform rather than a regular pan because these ones rise quite high. I would worry they would spill out over the edges of a pie plate. If yours is extra deep, you could always give it a try.

    • Hi Brenda, I usually trim the ends, then measure the whole width and divide by 11. It works out to be about somewhere around an inch and a bit wide for each piece.

  • My family has had a cottage in Bala for 3 generations and a Saturday morning run to Don’s for a chelsea bun is part of my memories. I now live very far away but I will be making one of these in fond memory of those lovely summer mornings. Thank you for this!

  • This is so Canadian, Jennifer, and you are the perfect person to do justice to these scrumptious buns. Wow – so perfectly delicious!
    I just discovered lately that the butter tart was first created in Barrie and there is a shop called Sweet Oven Butertarts that you must visit the next time you’re in town. First-rate!
    Thanks for making me smile with these :)

  • I just made this! I’ve never had anything so good. All the Chelsea buns of my past pale in comparison. Absolutely fantastic.

  • Happy soon-to-be 150th! These look so divine, I just might have to travel up north…and east to grab some from your local bakery. I love how you’ve shared a localized recipe and I can’t wait to try it.

  • These look so mouthwatering that I just want to run to the kitchen and get going. My bread/bun making can be a bit hit and miss. I think I’m too careful and treat the dough too kindly. But with your easy to follow instructions I should hit the jackpot this time! Yum, who doesn’t love a sticky bun?

  • This recipe reminds me of the Chelsea buns we bought at Waites Bakery, sadly not there anymore, many years ago when we visited our cottage on 3 mile lake.

    • Hi Margaret and yes, these are just like Waite’s Bakery! I was raised on Waite’s chocolate iced donuts :)

  • Very pretty and I can see why people love these in Muskoka, I can just imagine walking past a bakery, taking a whiff of these and making a 180 to promptly enter and buy them. I shouldn’t be left alone with these buns:)

  • Hi Jennifer,
    This recipe is a favourite in our house for cottage Sundays just north of you in Parry Sound. I see the spring form recipe is a little different from the loaf Chelsea recipe. Do you think I could use this recipe and bake them in a pan? Not all eleven in one loaf pan of course. Thanks Jennifer for your advice. I made your rhubarb/ strawberry cobbler in my cast iron last week- spectacular!

    • Hi Mary Lou and so glad you enjoyed the cobbler! I wanted to try my hand at a round-type Chelsea bun (ala Don’s Bakery in Bala :), but this is very similar to the loaf recipe, just bigger. For loaves, I would cut 12 rounds and do 6 in each of two 8×4 loaf pans. Cooking time would probably be a tad less, but not much.

  • YUMMY! I could devour SO much of this with a bucket of coffee :) I know you visited my part of Canada (hopefully you will again soon). So many delicious dishes when I think of Canada. Poutine definitely has to be on the top of the list. And a spicy Caesar. And here in NL? Hmmm…love fish n brewis on Christmas Eve drizzled with molasses. That sweet/savoury/salty combo gets me every time. I have it only once a year and it’s SO good! Have you had?

    • Thanks Dawn and no, I didn’t try fish n brewis when I was in Nfld. Sound great, as I am a sweet/savoury/salty lover as well. Next time, for sure :)

  • Thank you for posting this recipe. It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to give it a go. I live in Gravenhurst and must say I have been know to frequent Henrietta’s in Dwight a time or two!

    Its great to find recipes posted by a Canadian! Keep up the good work — your recipes at great!

    • Thanks so much, Donna and yes, Henrietta’s is a frequent stop for me, too :) I must say how lucky you are to have handy access to Gravenhurst Bakery’s donuts though, too. I have made many a drive to Gravenhurst just for their chocolate dipped donut!

  • I’m with Chris – I would drive up to see you if you promise to make these! (I’ll bring pie!) We could trade baking classes. You must have some amazing bakeries in your area. Mine seem to be more like the grocery store type. These are gorgeous, mouthwatering and must be finger licking good!

    • Thanks Tricia and yes, we do have some wonderful small, independent bakeries here, for sure. So many great treats!

  • Oh my goodness, these look wonderful! I’d travel to Muskoka, just for a pan of these delicious rolls. Muskoka must also be quite famous for it’s wonderful aroma, if all the bakeries are making these wonderful chelsea buns!

  • I’ve never heard of this treat before, but it definitely looks up my alley and like the perfect accompaniment to my cup of coffee!!

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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