In America, bun is a generic name for bread roll of some kind, either sweet and savoury, whereas British buns are much sweeter and richer. The word has been used since at least the fifteenth century and is derived from French bugne or ‘swelling’, referring to its bulging shape. I remembered when I visted Bath Spa for the first time, walking nearby the Abbey and I could smell a lovely aroma came from alley and they are a lot people queuing for this in the morning. Such a wonderful morning with this. I didn’t know much about this bun until I discovered a story wrote by Albert Jack.
During the seventeenth century, the Protestant Huguenots were persecuted by the Catholic Church and many caught the boat to England. The Huguenots were respected as skilled lacemakers, weavers and merchants, mainly specializing in silk. And they soon became an important part of English society at a time when the English were emerging from the cheerless grip of Oliver Cronwell’s Puritan regime (1649 – 1660). The Huguenots wielded vast influence in terms of business, finance and physical suport for the new monarchy, restored under Charles II (although many Huguenots were to later fight for the Protestant William of Orange against the English king during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which must turn in his grave).
The influence of the Huguenots also extended to British cuisine. One of the new settlers was a pretty young girl called Solange Luyon, who relocated to Bath in Somerset and soon found work at a bakery in Lilliput Alley (a narrow street now known more prosaically as North Parade Passage). Almost immediately she began baking a light, round reacake that became the talk of the town as local would queue up at breakfast time for one of ‘Sollie’s’ cakes. Bath and nearby Bristol both being a hub for travellers, word soon got about and the anglicized Sally Lunn Bun became hugely popular throughout Georgian England. Today the original recipe is passed along with the deeds to the bakery, now known as Sally Lunn’s and thought to be the oldest house in Bath. Visitor can still buy Sally Lunn bun at the tea shop/museum, safe in the knowledge that some things will never change.
I got the recipe from a book that written by Paul Hollywood, I’m sure are this is the original Sally Lunn but I do give it a try and it wasn’t too bad.
- 400g Strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1½ tsp salt
- 40g caster sugar
- 40g butter, softened
- 30g yeast
- 120ml milk
- 120ml water, plus extra for icing
- 50g sultanas
- 60g glacé cherries
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- zest of 3 oranges
- 75g icing sugar
- Put the flour, salt, sugar, butter, yeast, milk and water into a bowl and mix together with your hands. When all the flour has been incorporated tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Put the dough back in the bowl and leave for 1 hour to rest.
- Line a baking tray. Add the sultanas, cherries, cinnamon and orange zest to the dough and, using an electric mixer (blade attachment) or your hands, work it in well. Shape the dough into a sausage shape by flattening out the dough and rolling it up. Place the dough on the baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven, make a water icing. Tip the icing sugar into a bowl, add a little water and mix in well, then gradually add water until the icing coats the back of the spoon. Drizzle the icing over the top of the bread. Cut into slices and eat with lashings of butter. Yum! Yum! Yum!
I will bake the original version from Mrs. Beeton using traditional round tin instead the loaf size, that will be the actual Sally Lunn Bun.