Buns in the oven

This post relates to something very exciting that happened recently, but I’m actually writing it to begin a baking series. It was a significant birthday recently, and my Grandma gave me a book of recipes which she was given from her mother, which she thinks may have come from a couple of generations before that, roughly 1880. It’s written in an old school textbook which is falling apart and held together with string. Some of the writing is very difficult to read, and it uses measurements that we don’t have anymore, such as a gill, and twopence worth. Most of the recipes have no oven temperature and few have a baking time. I’ve decided to take on the challenge and try to make each of the recipes, checking that they work, and tying them down to a few more specific instructions!

It was difficult to decide on the recipe to begin with, but an opportunity presented itself that answered that question for us. A few weeks ago now, I found out that I’m pregnant (!) which is very exciting as we’ve been trying for a while and were beginning to get a bit frustrated. We found out we’re expecting back in March, and so it’s only been recently that we’ve been able to share that news with our friends. Over the years we’ve met a lot of people and stayed connected so we wanted to share it with them as well, and decided that the best way to suit us- or I guess, specifically me- was to do a baking related post. Cue a picture on social media of our 12 weeks scan surrounded by buns in the oven with the tagline “I’ve been busy baking”.

It made perfect sense that the buns in question should be out of my great-great…grandmothers recipe book. There were a couple of slight hiccups. I had to google how much a gill of milk it (142ml) in case it ever comes up! And I forgot that they would have used fresh yeast rather than instant so there was a slight overspill as I left the mixture for the first rise…

However the extra yeast evened out by the time it came to baking so you couldn’t tell by the taste or texture of the finished product, and they were delicious. I haven’t really had to make any changes, I’ve just clarified a few points, so here it is!

Only joking! Here is the revised recipe:


3 gills (425ml) milk

1tsp caster sugar

0.5 lb (225g) plain flour

1oz fresh yeast, or 1 sachet instant yeast

Mix the yeast and sugar together in a small bowl and add the lukewarm milk. Stir and then strain the mixture into the flour and beat well together. Cover the bowl with paper or a clean tea towel and leave to rise for one hour. In another large bowl put:

1.25lb (560g) plain flour

0.25lb (115g) butter

2oz (60g) candied peel

2 eggs

0.25lb (115g) sultanas

0.25lb (115g) sugar

When the dough in the first bowl has risen beat it into the dry ingredients, with the eggs thoroughly mixed, and beat for about five minutes until well combined. Leave the dough to rise for an hour then shape the mixture into 12 buns and leave on a greased tray to rise for another half an hour.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190*C for 15 minutes until golden brown. Mix 150g icing sugar with 3-4 tbsps milk to form a thick paste. When the buns have cooled brush the icing thickly over the top to glaze them. Store in an airtight container.

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