Just in time for Bank Holiday Weekend baking, and to celebrate the general release of Coop Knits Whitby sock pattern, it’s the first instalment of the Golden Yorkshire sock club recipe series in collaboration with Rachel Coopey and The Knitting Goddess. Enjoy!
As regular readers of the blog will know, Whitby holds a dear place in my heart and we often return to visit my Mum and take in some of the bracing North Sea air it offers throughout the year. With its Gothic cliff-top Abbey and smugglers snickleways and alleys, it is easy to see where Bram Stoker took his inspiration for Dracula which he wrote when visiting.
One of the first stops when we land in the town is at the bakers, Botham’s of Whitby. Established in 1865 by Elizabeth Botham and still owned by the family today, Botham’s sell Yorkshire delicacies I am hard pressed to find elsewhere; deliciously fruity Yorkshire Brack, small containers of potted beef with freshly baked white baps to serve them on, and what is possibly their most famous invention, the Whitby Lemon Bun.
We could get into a very long discussion about what constitutes a ‘bun’ and whilst the small sponge fairy cakes will always be ‘buns’ to me, it is also perfectly acceptable to use the term ‘bun’ to describe these sweet, bready confections topped with a thick layer of icing. Iced finger buns are a commonly seen treat in the window of bakers throughout the UK but it is these round lemon topped buns which are particular to Botham’s. I am not a regular bread baker, but the recipe is really easy and a great way to have a go at bread making.
My version includes a sprinkling of juicy sultanas, just like you would find in the Botham’s bun, but feel free to leave them out if they’re not to your liking. The key to making these as delicious as possible is to keep the icing very thick – you want a good topping on there – and serve them sliced in half with a disgracefully generous layer of butter washed down with an entire pot of tea. I’m planning on making a second batch to nibble over the coming days as I get my second Whitby sock off the needles!
Whitby Lemon Buns
(makes 8 generous buns or 10 smaller sized)
For the buns:
250g strong white flour
250g plain flour
125ml warm* water
125ml warm* milk
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast (approx. 2 tsp from a pot)
2 tsp fine sea salt
50g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
50g unsalted butter cut into small cubes
50g sultanas (optional)
Vegetable oil for greasing
For the icing:
150g icing sugar
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Lightly oil a large bowl and leave to one side.
Sift both flours with the yeast and salt into a separate mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the sugar, butter, milk and egg, then use a wooden spoon to bring everything together gradually adding the water until you have a soft, sticky dough.
Dust a clean worktop with flour and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. If you have a Kitchen Aid you can pop it in there and use the dough hook to do the hard work for you.
Once kneaded thoroughly, add the sultanas and work them through by hand. If using a Kitchen Aid, remove the dough before adding the sultanas otherwise they will be worked to a pulp by the hook.
Transfer to the lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature the dough may take a bit longer or shorter to expand.
Lightly oil a large baking tray and leave it to one side.
Once the dough is ready, dust the work surface with flour once again and knock back the dough – this is just a quick knead to take it back to it’s original size. Now divide into 8 or 10 even-sized pieces and shape into a round smooth bun.
Place the buns on the oiled tray approximately 2-3cm apart to allow room for spreading, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 30-60 minutes until they have doubled in size once more. Whilst you wait for them to prove, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
When the buns have expanded again, pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden – they should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of them – then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Once completely cooled, sift the icing sugar and mix in the lemon juice to give a thick icing with a spreadable but stiff consistency – add either a little more lemon juice or icing sugar until it’s just right. At this point I also like to add the zest of half a lemon but leave it out if you think things might be getting too lemony. Use the back of a metal spoon to smooth a thick-ish layer over the top of each bun and leave to set.
These are best eaten within 24 hours of baking but if you omit the icing you can pop them in the freezer, then defrost and ice them as and when desired.
* The milk and water should be slightly warmer body temperature; too ht and the yeast will die, too cold and it won’t activate – use your little finger to test the temperature.
Disclaimer: A version of this recipe first appeared as part of the January instalment of The Knitting Goddess & Coop Knits sock club 2016 and is based on Paul Hollywood’s iced bun recipe.