One of my favorite meals in Bath was at Sally Lunn’s, the home of the famous Sally Lunn Bun. This iconic brioche-like creation can be used as a base for butter and jam, (or even better, clotted cream) paired with a cup of tea. It can also be split and toasted for breakfast in place of toast. Since it has only a touch of sweetness, it can also be used as a “trencher” at the base of a savory stew. To be fair, when we saw the word “trencher” on the menu, we had to ask what it meant!
The buns at Sally Lunn’s were bigger and flatter than the ones I made at home. Not having the appropriate rings to create the authentic size, I opted to use muffin tins. The flavor and texture rang true.
There are many recipes on line for Sally Lunn Buns. I took a few ideas from other sources, but primarily followed a recipe from King Arthur Flour. The plus side to these buns is that they are basically a batter bread that doesn’t require kneading. The downside is that the dough is so sticky that you couldn’t knead it if you wanted to! But the end result is a delightful little bun with a tender crumb.
1 cup whole milk
6 TBS butter
1/4 cup sugar ( I put the sugar in a mini food processor to make it more fine, since caster sugar was recommended in some British recipes, but it’s not necessary.)
1 TBS lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
2 large eggs
1 TBS instant yeast
1. Combine the milk, butter, and sugar. Heat until lukewarm, and the butter is melted. Pour into a mixing bowl.
2. If the liquid is very hot, let it cool somewhat before continuing. Over 115-120 degrees is likely to kill the yeast.
3. Add the lemon zest, salt, 2 cups flour, eggs, and yeast. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat for an additional 3 minutes. Dough will be soft and very sticky.
5. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free space for about an hour until almost doubled in bulk.
6. You’ll need two 12 cup muffin tins even though the recipe makes only 18 buns. Lightly grease 18 of the cups.
7. Divide the dough among the 18 cups, filling each slightly more than half full.
8. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes until puffy. Pre-heat oven to 350.
9. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.