National Afternoon Tea Week: Michael Topp, Head Pastry Chef at The Royal Crescent Hotel


About Michael:


Michael’s love for pastry began when he was very young while baking with his gran during the summer. He fell in love with it and knew at a young age that it was what he wanted to pursue as a career. He left school at 16 and started an apprenticeship at Homewood Park Hotel, close to his home in Frome.  When a commis pastry position came up at Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe, Michael applied and got the job which resulted in training under some amazing chefs and pastry chefs. After eight years of service, working his way up to Pastry Senior Sous Chef, Michael left to take on the role as Head Pastry Chef at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.  Michael is very proud to work at such an iconic British hotel where he can showcase his skills in creating the perfect afternoon tea.

Michael’s Secret to Afternoon Tea:


Michael loves working with fresh seasonal fruits, particularly local Somerset strawberries during the summer months.  He also enjoys blending floral tones into the cakes, such as violet and lavender - served alongside a pot of freshly brewed loose leaf tea.  When it comes to the famous jam or cream debate, Michael is team Devon and believes clotted cream acts as a sturdier base to then smother on the strawberry jam.  One of the popular elements of the hotel’s afternoon tea is the Bath Bun, a spiced and sweetened soft roll filled with a sugar cube and topped with nibbed sugar. As the name suggests it originates from the city of Bath.  Here is the recipe and instructions:

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa - Bath Bun recipe:


Makes 10 buns


333g Strong flour 

33g soft light brown sugar

10g mixed spice

7g salt

83g soft unsalted butter

8g fresh yeast

33g candied mixed peel

216g milk 

33g currants

10 Sugar cubes

Jar apricot jam

100g nibbed sugar 


In a stand mixer, using a dough hook, mix everything apart from the currants until it forms a soft dough. 

Continue to knead the dough on the stand mixer at medium speed for around 10 minutes until the dough becomes glossy and elastic. The dough should start to come away from the side of bowl into a smooth dough. Now add the currants and continue to knead on low speed for 1 more minute. 

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover. Leave to rise somewhere warm until the dough doubles in size.

Turn the dough onto a clean surface and divide into 50g balls.

Roll each 50g piece of dough into a ball and turn upside down.

Once you have rolled each ball once push a sugar cube into the top of each ball and then turn back up the other way so the smooth side is up and the sugar cube is underneath.

Re roll each dough ball tightly so you have neat dough balls.

Transfer onto a baking tray spaced apart and cover lightly with greased cling film.

Leave to prove for an hour or double in size.

Bake on 160c for 15 minutes until golden brown. 

When cooled glaze the top of the bath bun with apricot jam and then dip in the nibbed sugar.

Warm back in the oven for a couple of minutes and serve. Enjoy!


The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa,

16 Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1 2LS
01225 823333