Butter Buns

Butter buns

These are the buns that I dream of. I do actually dream about them. When I was young you could buy these from an Italian family bakery that had shops in Shrewsbury and other local towns. They were my all time favourite cake and one that I would choose every time I saw them on their stainless steel platter. The memory of the taste has stayed with me and when the café doors were closed for the final time, it remained just that, a memory. Many times in recent years I have thought about how I might go about making them, but I couldn’t get my head around how you might layer the bun and enclose all that buttery goodness.

A few weeks ago a lady contacted me asking if I had the recipe for the Shrewsbury Butter Bun. Before she contacted me it never occurred to me that  the butter bun was a local phenomenon. Of course, now I realise it is.  A few weeks prior to this I found out that a friend’s husband had family connections with the café and I was considering whether she might think I was mad if I asked her if he knew the secret to the butter bun. The two things happening so close together felt like fate and I knew that it was time I got my act together and found out how I could go about making the butter bun.

I haven’t asked my friend’s husband. I thought it best not to ask him to reveal family secrets. But I did find an entry for butter buns on the internet which revealed the folding technique. At last, the answer to all my dreams. I can’t find the link again, which is frustrating, but if I do I will post it here. I have used the recipe that I teach for all my enriched dough recipes on the bread making course. It’s a recipe that can be adapted for a fruit bun, chelsea bun, iced finger etc.

I have trialled these twice now, with success each time. I was frustrated with the first batch that all the sugary butteriness oozed out during the baking. With the second batch I tried sealing the bun with a little milk to prevent the leakage. I now realise that you just can’t seal them, and this is the point. All that sugary, butteriness gathers in the tray and encrusts the bottom of the butter bun. May it ooze for all its worth, enough of the filling manages to stay in to create the delicious buttery layers.

These little beauties are now going to be one of the choices for students to make during the enriched dough part of the bread making course so that I can share the butter bun love with as many people as possible. I urge you to get out your flour and make some as soon as you possibly can.

Makes 10 buns

Lightly grease two baking trays. Oven temperature, 220°c, gas mark 7 or the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga.

For the buns
300g strong white flour (bread flour)
250g plain white flour
10g fine salt
7g easy bake yeast (instant yeast) or 10g fresh yeast (the fresh yeast can be dissolved in a little of the warm water that you will be using for the recipe)
50g caster sugar
150ml warm milk
150ml warm water ( I add boiling water to cold milk and that way both get warm, just make sure that the liquid is only hand hot or you will kill the yeast)
50g butter
1 egg

For the filling
100g softened butter
150g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste or extract

For the glaze
50 ml milk
50g caster sugar

Method

In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt, yeast and sugar. Pour in the water, milk, egg and add the cubed butter. Mix together well ( I use my hands like a claw) and then tip out onto a work surface (no extra flour needed) and knead for about 10 minutes until feeling smooth and elastic. You can of course use a free standing mixer to do all of this for you. The dough will be sticky during the kneading process, which is fine. Better sticky than dry.

Form the dough into a ball, and place into a bowl and leave to rise until double the original size, covered with a large bag or lightly oiled clingfilm. With all of the sugar, milk, egg and butter this dough will take longer to rise than a bread dough. In a cool kitchen expect this to be about two hours, less in a warm kitchen.

In a bowl mix together the softened butter, caster sugar and vanilla paste for the filling.

Place the sugar and milk for the glaze in a small pan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in volume, take it carefully out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a sausage shape and cut into ten equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Take one ball and roll out thinly into a circle. Place a teaspoon of the filling mixture in the middle of the circle. Fold over the circle to create a semi-circle. Flatten the dough over the butter and press the seam down well. Place a second teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the semi-circle. Fold the dough over to create a triangle. Flatten again and press the seam well (See pics below). Place onto a lightly greased tray and repeat with the other balls of dough. Leave to rise for 20 -30 minutes. Place on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga, or onto the middle shelf of an oven preheated to 220°c, gas mark 7 for 15 minutes until golden.  Glaze the buns whilst hot with the sugar and milk using a pastry brush. Leave to settle on the tray for ten minutes, in this time they will have sucked back up some of the sugary butteriness that has oozed out, and then lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Butter bun fold, stage 1

Butter bun fold, stage 1

Butter bun fold, stage 2

Butter bun fold, stage 2

Butter bun fold, stage 3

Butter bun fold, stage 3

Print Friendly

43 responses to “Butter Buns

  1. These sound wonderful. Though I note you don’t mention how many calories per bun……….

  2. Just my kind of thing. And as buns, and rich, buttery Italian buns to boot, not unlike the Ligurian michette I made the other day.

  3. These sound ridiculously good. Dangerous, though – I’d eat far too many. Funnily enough there was an Italian baker near where I lived many years ago that made a sort of buttery bun. I’ve no idea if the recipe came from Italy or England but I seem to remember that they had a bit of a hazelnut flavour about them.

    • I like the sound of the hazelnut flavour. That may be an idea for a bit of recipe development. They are dangerously good and my stomach doesn’t approve quite as much as my head does. But they are worth it.

  4. Well I have bookmarked and will give these a try for sure. The name alone has me feeling quite giddy; I can hear them calling to me gently, but steadily. I’ve just posted about a lost bun in our area, two local buns lost and found 🙂

  5. Oooooh, they look so good. Really rustic and wholesome. And at first when you mentioned the ‘folding’ thing, I thought ‘Oh no, too difficult’ but that is quite do-able! Yum. xCathy

  6. Hi Kath–Those buns look beauteous! Such a sheen. I like your tip about combining the boiling water with cold milk to achieve warm for both. Looks like a great recipe for your class.

  7. Pingback: Evening Class 3rd November 2015 | Veg Patch Kitchen

  8. I love butter buns! I’ve been looking for a recipe for these for so long!
    My parents & grandparents grew up in Shropshire and have been pestering me to make some. These worked beautifully, thank you for sharing this.

  9. Last week I found the most gorgeous butter buns after years of searching, the shop is called Hignetts in Pontesbury 3 miles from Shrewsbury I am now left wanting more but unfortunately I live 40 miles away.

    • Thanks for the heads up, I will take a detour to try them one of these days. You could always try your hand at these and then you could have them whenever you want without the trip. Let me know if you do.

    • Higgies is AMAZING. I’m coming back to the UK soon and will be heading there for their butter buns. Then George’s fish and chip shop round the corner.

  10. How long do you suggest leaving them to rise in the first stage?

    • Hi Sam, It will depend on a number of factors, how warm the liquids were when you added them. A warm liquid will make the yeast work quicker, but make sure it is only warm. Yeast is killed at 50 degrees celsius. If your kitchen is warm the dough will rise faster too. Enriched dough takes longer to rise than a bread dough because of the sugar, butter and milk in there all slowing the yeast activity down. I would say that if you have a kitchen of about 20 degrees celsius and you have used warm (not hot) liquid it will take about one and a half hours for the first rise. It should double in size. If you have added cold liquids and you have a cold kitchen it will take longer, but it will develop a better flavour. You could also make the dough the night before you want to make the buns with a cold liquid and pop the dough in the fridge overnight. This will give the dough lovely flavour development. Fetch it out in the morning and it should have started to rise and be almost ready. Allow it to come to room temperature and get on with the rest of the recipe. I hope all of this makes sense and that you end up with delicious butter buns.

  11. I grew up in Shriewsbury and Butter Buns were an after school treat at Sidoli’s, sadly no more. There was a bakery in Welshpool that did them, closed too now. Looking forward to making these fof a New Year treat. Thank you for the recipe.

  12. These look amazing! I’m trying to translate some terminology in my head from that side of the pond to this (USA). Would your “easy yeast” be the same or similar to our “instant yeast” or “quick rise yeast” as opposed to the regular variety do you think? I’m also not familiar with “strong white flour” as we’ve just go the regular sort and bread flour.

    • Hi Tandaina, I am glad you have found the recipe. Sorry about the confusion, easy bake is the same as instant yeast. It is the yeast that you can add without hydrating first. Strong white flour is flour with a higher gluten content than plain or all purpose flour so bread flour would be the one to use. Please let me know how you get on. Best wishes Kath

  13. ‘Butter buns’ also go by the name ‘sugar buns’. You can find them at a small bakery chain called Catherine’s with shops in both Bridgnorth and shifnal if you are local to Shropshire. Coincidentally I introduced my boyfriend to these sugary messy treats only yesterday!

  14. Vermeulen’s in Ellesmere sell them as honey buns. Delicious.

  15. Hi … So glad I found your post have been looking for years for a recipe for the butter bun… almost so that I stated to think I had dreamed it up . I went to collage at Radbrook in the eightys and they were made fresh every day to sell in the refrectory . A very popular breakfast treet yum yum

  16. Pingback: Talk at WI Norbury | Veg Patch Kitchen

  17. I’ve known these as Tywyn buns, still a big hit there, local bakery sells out by 10am. Going to give these a go!

  18. I made these for the first time last night and my friend said they were the best he’d ever had (& he’s even had 1 from Hignetts!). I felt very proud. Thank you very much for the recipe! I will definitely making them again!

  19. Maybe it’s a Shropshire thing because DeGrays cafe in Ludlow used to make the most amazing butter buns too. Unfortunately it closed and took the recipe with the closure. Moo King forward to trying out this recipe though 😀

  20. On the subject of “Tywyn buns”, I’ve been searching for authentic ones for many years having never forgotten them from childhood holidays during the 1960’s. I have been back a few times over the years; work occasionally takes me there; and there is a bakery that sells these Butter Buns, and lovely they are, however, I think the original Tywyn buns had honey in the filling which took them to another level!. Maybe the “Tywyn filling” substitutes honey for the castor sugar?
    There were two places that sold them, the “Dorothy Café” in the main street was one and I think they baked them out the back, but for the very best ones we used to go to Ivor who had a bakery down a pathway at the side of the church where you could stand just inside the doorway and watch him and his assistant at work. Ivor was also the church organist if I remember correctly. I have posted this information in various places over the years but so far I have found no one who remembers Ivor and his very special Tywyn Buns.

  21. Hi, well inspired by your recipe here, I will have a go myself at the weekend. My biggest challenge is that I’ve recently been diagnosed as coeliac so I need to make gluten-free enriched dough and the available flours are not great to work with! I’ll keep you posted,

    • Oh no Steve I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis, although having the diagnosis is good as it enables you to get better. It will be a challenge to recreate them with gluten free flour but I am very interested in how you get on. Keep me posted.

  22. Hello there!
    I have also been dreaming for years about very similar buns that we used to buy in the Spar bakery in Machynlleth on family holidays… this was at least 40 years ago!
    Until now I had failed to find a recipe to re create them but these look so similar! Do you think it would work if I fill them with honey instead of the vanilla mixture? I’m going to experiment!
    Thank you for posting this!

    • Hi Victoria, please to bring back happy memories. I haven’t tried mixing honey and butter (instead of sugar and butter), but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let me know how you get on.

  23. ohhhh! I’ve just seen the above posting from Steve!!!
    How wonderful !!! 🌞😀 The Spar must have got them in from Tywyn!!

  24. I used to buy honey buns ifrom TO Eilliams n Whitchurch, Shropshire – they were butter buns with honey. I live 10 mins from Hignetts in Pontesbury and they are the best I’ve tasted! Tip, if you want to sample the butter buns, get there early as they sell out very quickly! I will be trying your recipe! Thank you! 😀

Leave a Reply