Hands down my most popular recipe is for Shropshire Butter Buns and for very good reason. A butter bun is a fine, fine thing. A sweet dough filled with buttery goodness and with a delicious sticky toffee bottom. Back in 2015 when I posted the original recipe it was one that I had cobbled together from memories and snippets on the internet and it’s a recipe that I am pretty pleased with.
I teach people how to make butter buns on my sweet dough course and either they swoon immediately or look at me with an impassive face as they have yet to experience one. Once they have experienced one though I haven’t known anyone fail to be impressed.
Last week, Edward Aston contacted me. Edward had been an apprentice baker some seventy years ago at a bakery in a local town just a few miles away from here at Tom Wedge’s bakery. Edward tells me that Tom Wedge was the son-in-law of Mr Rhodes of Rhodes Bakery in Market Drayton where the recipe for the butter bun originated. Being keen to pass the recipe on Edward has very kindly sent me the recipe that he still bakes regularly for his children and grandchildren.
So here is what Edward wrote to me:
“I have just read your piece on Shropshire butter buns and thoroughly enjoyed it. The café you refer to in Shrewsbury would be Sidolis if memory serves me well. I believe the original recipe came from Market Drayton, Rhodes bakery I believe but sadly no longer trading. Some seventy years ago I was an apprentice baker to the son in law of Mr Rhodes a brilliant baker named Tom Wedge who had his own bakery in Broseley, Shropshire. That bakery is also sadly no longer trading and none of his family is involved in the trade. In view of this I now feel that it is time to make sure his original recipe should be preserved and I can think of no one better to share it with. Your dough and method are absolutely fine but the filling and construction is not authentic. So here goes for what it is worth. For the filling use equal weights of butter and light soft brown sugar. Beat them together until light and very fluffy now add about 20% of the butter sugar mixture total weight of lemon curd and beat well again. You should now have a cream like spreadable mixture. Now to construct the buns, place the dough circle flat and spread the mixture thinly on half of the circle, fold to make a half circle and then spread half of that and fold again to make a quarter circle. To bake place the buns in groups of four to form a circle on the baking tray. This was the traditional way of selling butter buns, in rings of four. I hope this is of use to you and will help to keep this beautiful confection alive. I like you am a great fan of the butter bun.”
How wonderful is that? I was so pleased and felt very honoured to have received such an email. I have spent a very happy morning today filming myself making the buns so that you can all see how I have translated Edward’s note to me and hopefully make the authentic Shropshire Butter Bun for yourself. I agree very much with Edward that we should keep the butter bun alive.
If you would like to watch the video of me making these beauties you can do on my YouTube channel.
For the dough:
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 water
For the filling:
150g unsalted softened butter
150g light soft brown sugar
60g lemon curd
For the glaze:
50g caster or granulated sugar
Warm the milk and the butter together in a pan over a gentle heat. Yeast dies at 55C so you don’t want the water to get too hot.
Place the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Keep the salt and yeast separate as salt can kill yeast. If you are using fresh yeast dissolve in a small amount of the water that you are using for the recipe before adding it to the flour.
Add the egg, warm milk and warm water and mix well. You can now use a stand mixer to mix the dough, knead for 10 minutes or use the stretch and fold method to develop the gluten in the dough. Leave the dough to ferment until it has become light and airy and has doubled in size. This can be at room temperature and take 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
Meanwhile make the filling. Beat the sugar and butter together until soft and fluffy. Add the lemon curd and mix to combine. Set aside.
Make the glaze by placing the sugar and water in a small pan over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for a couple of minutes.
When the dough has become light and airy turn it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 8 large pieces or 12 smaller pieces. I like the bigger bun but you might prefer the smaller size.
Roll each piece into a circle. Place a teaspoon of the filling not each circle. Fold the circle over and seal the edges. Place another teaspoon of filling onto the half moon shapes and fold in half again so that you now have a triangular shape.
Place four of the triangles onto a baking tray (you can use baking parchment on the tray to save the washing up effort) to make a circle and repeat with the remaining triangles.
Leave in a warm place to prove or place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
When the buns have risen by about half preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6, 400F or use the roasting oven of the Aga and bake for 20-25 minutes. depending on your oven.
As soon as they come out of the oven brush them with the simple syrup glaze generously and leave them on the tray for 10 minutes to soak up any excess butter and allow the treacly toffee to stick to the bun. Finish cooling on a wire rack and eat the toffee bits stuck to the tray as a cook’s bonus.
Try both this recipe and my version and let me know which one you prefer or which one brings back happy memories of enjoying butter buns.
Edit: Edward has been in touch to give additional information “Just two small points I would like to offer to make things easier. First, after making the dough balls cover them with a cloth and give them about 10 minutes bench rest. This will make them easier to roll and prevent pull back. The second is the glaze which is improved by the addition of a spoonful of golden syrup which makes the glaze more viscous and offers better coverage with less risk of the glaze being absorbed. Finally a sprinkle of caster sugar used to be added for presentation.”