Sally Lunn, the way I remember it
This year, for the first time, we took a two week holiday in one place. Long enough to unpack clothes and settle into a routine. It was bliss, and I’ve made a mental note to do it again.
The greatest joy I gained from slowing down during this holiday was taking time to experiment. My daily ritual included painting, writing, and hanging out in the kitchen – mostly with yeast. Yes, yeast : ) The stuff of bread, pizza dough and Sally Lunn.
After quick success with pizza dough, and a breakfast conversation reminiscing about my favourite childhood treat – Sally Lunn – I was spurred to swim deeper into baking water.
Sally Lunn – according to wiki – is a large bun or teacake made with a yeast dough, usually served warm with butter. Originally recorded in 1780 in the spa town of Bath in southwest England. A deeper dive into google reveals two things – A, no-one really knows where this bun originated from and B, it has a long-standing place in the hearts and tummies of New Zealanders.
Sally Lunn featured prominently in my childhood. Saturday lunches were a European spread from the Dixon Street Deli while Sundays were all about morning tea and Sally Lunn… that moist sultana dough topped with buttery coconut icing. Until my late teens, when we visited the ‘supposed home of Sally Lunn’ in Bath, I was under the miss-conception that it was called ‘Sally Bun’. My nana was named Sally and I assumed ‘Sally Bun’ was the nickname my Dad had given the treat that he used to enjoy with his mum as a child. Due to both the nickname and my fond memories, this bun holds a nostalgic place in my heart.
Further googling revealed what I was searching for –
a recipe for Sally Lunn – adapted from a traditional English recipe – by the late Virgil Evetts.
I followed his recipe – having now learnt that baking is all about following the recipe – and lo & behold, it worked. I baked two Sally Lunns baring very close resemblance to the bun of my childhood.
Returning from holiday I was relaying our adventures to a friend and mentioned the Sally Lunn experiment. His eyes lit up and we shared our memories of this bun of the past… lamenting the absence of Sally Lunn in todays bakeries. I went straight back to our kitchen and followed the recipe again – this time delivering the freshly baked bun to my friend.
So here it is, the recipe of morning-teas-gone-by, accompanied by a mood board inspired by nostalgia.
Sally (Kate) Lunn
Adapted from a recipe by Virgill Evetts – the only change being the omission of zest of a lemon in the batter and I tsp lemon juice in the icing. She really is very easy. It just requires a little planning ahead so you make and consume it on the same day. If you do find yourself with leftovers, it makes the very best base for bread and butter pudding!
2 teaspoons yeast (or one sachet)
50gms melted butter
1 cup raisins
Dissolve yeast in a little warm water with a pinch of sugar - wait for it to start foaming (5mins - or more I discovered - depending on all manor of environmental factors!)
Beat together milk, cream, butter, eggs and yeast. Combine with flour, raisins and lemon zest. Knead into a smooth, elastic dough/batter (this is easier done in a mixer, but I managed by hand just fine).
Place dough in a large bowl, cover with glad-wrap and leave to rise until doubled (again timing depends on how warm the environment. I made the first back a a steaming hot day in January and the rising was impressive!)
Punch down and form into either 1 large or 2 small rounds on a greased or non-stick oven tray (I made two buns both times, one bun would be MASSIVE!) Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again for around 30 minutes.
Bake on a lined tray at 190c for around 20-25 minutes, until golden brown in colour and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Allow to cool on a cake rack.