Currant buns close up showing dried fruits with patterned tiles in the background

Currant Buns

I was talking to my grandchildren recently about the bakeries we had in the 1950s and thought I would try to reproduce the currant buns of my school days for them to try.

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when we still had independent bakers, butchers, greengrocers etc. before the supermarkets put most of them out of business. These small bakeries produced a variety of traditional English buns. Nowadays we have a much more limited selection of mass produced buns.

Currant buns cut in half with a glass of milk on the side.

At my grammar school (this was in the days of the 11 plus) we had a selection of buns to buy and eat with our milk at morning break. The cheapest buns at 2d (less than 1p) were currant buns. Although these were called currant buns they contained a mixture of dried fruit and candied peel with a lovely sweet sticky glaze.

The only fruit buns available nowadays seem to be hot cross buns which are now baked all year, not just at Easter and these tend to be spiced. Here is my Hot Cross Buns recipe.

Currant buns had no spice, all the flavour came from the dried fruit. They made a nourishing snack with our free school milk mid-morning.

Ingredients you will need to make these Currant Buns

  • 1 pound 4 ounces / 560 grams / 2 ⅓ cups strong white flour
  • 4 ounces / 110 grams / ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ ounce / 14 grams of quick bake yeast (2 sachets)
  • 4 ounces / 110 grams / ¼ cup butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ pint of milk
  • 6 ounces / 170 grams / ¾ cup mixed dried fruit

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Directions

  1. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and dried yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the butter (which must be very soft), the eggs and about half the milk.
  3. Mix to a soft dough, working in the butter evenly and gradually adding the rest of the milk.
  4. Work the dried fruit into this soft sticky dough – NO NEED TO KNEAD.
  5. Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rise. The time it takes to rise will depend on the temperature of the room.
  6. The dough needs to increase by about one half in size, anything from 1 – 3 hours usually.
  7. Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead lightly.
  8. Divide into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a bun.
  9. Grease two baking trays and place six buns on each tray and cover with greased cling film.
  10. Leave to rise – they should double in size. The time taken again will depend on the room temperature anything from 1-3 hours generally but could be longer.
  11. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C / 200°C fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7 for 15 to 20 minutes. If you cook both trays at once you will need to change shelves half way through the baking time.
  12. While the buns are cooking make the glaze.
  13. In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water, then bring to boiling point over a medium heat. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes to form a syrup. Keep warm.
  14. The buns are cooked when they are well risen and browned.
  15. Remove from the oven and brush over the glaze immediately. Give them two coats – you should use up most if not all of the glaze.
  16. Remove from the baking trays and cool on a wire rack.

Equipment you will need to make these Currant Buns

Along with the essential kitchen items make sure you have some baking trays, a mixing bowl and a wire rack.

Currant Buns

Recipe by Scones Plus More Course: SnacksCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 4 ounces / 560 grams / 2 ⅓ cups strong white flour

  • 4 ounces / 110 grams / ¼ cup caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ ounce / 14 grams of quick bake yeast (2 sachets)

  • 4 ounces / 110 grams / ¼ cup butter (softened)

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ pint of milk

  • 6 ounces / 170 grams / ¾ cup mixed dried fruit

  • Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons of water

Directions

  • Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and dried yeast in a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the butter (which must be very soft), the eggs and about half the milk.
  • Mix to a soft dough, working in the butter evenly and gradually adding the rest of the milk.
  • Work the dried fruit into this soft sticky dough – NO NEED TO KNEAD.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rise. The time it takes to rise will depend on the temperature of the room.
  • The dough needs to increase by about one half in size, anything from 1 – 3 hours usually.
  • Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead lightly.
  • Divide into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a bun.
  • Grease two baking trays and place six buns on each tray and cover with greased cling film.
  • Leave to rise – they should double in size. The time taken again will depend on the room temperature anything from 1-3 hours generally but could be longer.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C / 200°C fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7 for 15 to 20 minutes. If you cook both trays at once you will need to change shelves half way through the baking time.
  • While the buns are cooking make the glaze.
  • In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water, then bring to boiling point over a medium heat. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes to form a syrup. Keep warm.
  • The buns are cooked when they are well risen and browned.
  • Remove from the oven and brush over the glaze immediately. Give them two coats – you should use up most if not all of the glaze.
  • Remove from the baking trays and cool on a wire rack.

Serving Currant Buns

Serve currant buns slightly warm with a glass of cold milk to get the full 1950s experience.

When the currant buns are cold they can be split and buttered, although even cold I prefer them plain. They are best eaten fresh ie: on the day of making but stale buns are very nice toasted and buttered. Left overs can be frozen and then reheated for a few minutes in a hot oven.

Shop bought Currant Buns

I checked out the bakery aisle in Tesco and as I thought the only currant buns or fruited buns they had were hot cross buns. I looked at the ingredients list their ‘finest hot cross buns’ and I was quite shocked at both the length and contents of the list –

Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin], Orange Soaked Fruits (30%) [Sultanas, Raisins, Currants, Flame Raisin, Concentrated Orange Juice], Water, Mixed Peel [Orange Peel, Lemon Peel], Butter(Milk), Emulsifiers (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Mono- and Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Potato Dextrin, Flavouring, Lemon Zest, Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil, Flour Treatment Agent (Ascorbic Acid).

Tesco Hot Cross Buns ingredients list on back of packaging.

Time for more traditional baking

Now I have retired from the tearooms I have much more time to indulge in my two hobbies – quilting and baking! Instead of sticking to tea room favourites I can indulge my love of traditional baking.

Next time I will be making some more traditional buns – Iced Buns!

Happy Baking!

Tanya

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