My husband was ever so, ever so excited when he found out the name of this week’s bake. “Bath buns! Bath buns!” he would exclaim, excitedly, for days when I walked in the room. For you see to him, it conjured the image of buns one ate in the bathtub, an amusing thought indeed. Alas, these traditional English sweet dough buns have a different point of origin.
Named after the town of Bath in the UK, they have strong historical providence dating as far back as 1763, Jane Austen herself writing in a letter 1801 that she had a habit of “disordering my stomach with Bath Bunns”. It is a straightforward enough sweet dough, but the distinction for the Bath Bun for me is the sugary crusted top. One can buy sugar crystals for a refined look, or for a more rustic approach (as I had to employ as no sugar crystals could be found to purchase), simply mix castor sugar with a tiny amount of water and mix with a fork until it clumps together to the lumps you need for the bake.
Week three of the challenge, 49 more to go!Print
A recipe for traditional English Bath Buns.
- 500g plain flour
- 30g fresh yeast
- 185ml lukewarm milk
- 120g butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 80g castor sugar
- 100g chopped mixed peel
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch ground cinnamon
- grated rind of ½ lemon
- 80g raisins
- 1 egg yolk, beaten, for glazing
- 60g sugar crystals OR 60g sugar mixed with splash water to form clumps for topping.
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Cream the yeast with a little of the milk, pour into the well in the flour with remaining milk. Sprinkle over a little flour and leave in a warm place for 15 min until frothy.
- Add the melted butter, eggs and sugar and beat all together to form a dough.
- Work in the chopped peel, salt, cinnamon, lemon rind and raisins.
- Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until smooth. Shape into small buns and place well apart on greased baking trays. Leave to rise again in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Brush the buns with beaten egg yolks, sprinkle with sugar crystals or sugar clumps and bake for 15 minutes.
Keywords: bath buns