Jane Austen's Favorite Bath Buns

Bath buns
Elaine Lemm
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Proving: 2 hrs 45 mins
Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
260 Calories
10g Fat
37g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 260
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 35mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 46mg 4%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 104mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Bath Buns are a lovely sweet enriched yeast dough bun synonymous with the city of Bath in south-west England. Bath is also the city of Jane Austen, the world-famous author.

Jane Austen was only too familiar with Bath Buns. She often found it necessary to sneak them surreptitiously into her room to augment the rather meager meals given by her well-meaning but rather stingy Aunt Leigh Perrot, according to the Jane Austen Society.

Here she addresses her sister, Cassandra

"Your going I consider as indispensably necessary, and I shall not like being left behind; there is no place here or hereabouts that I shall want to be staying at, and though, to be sure, the keep of two will be more than of one, I will endeavour to make the difference less by disordering my stomach with Bath buns; and as to the troyle of accommodating us, whether there are one or two, it is much the same:"
Jane Austen to Cassandra, 1801.

This modern recipe uses caraway seeds and crumbled sugar to create a lighter version of the famous bun. Serve them warm, split and spread with salty butter and you will understand just why Jane loved them so much. 


  • 115 grams (about 4-ounces) unsalted butter

  • 450 grams (about 1 pound) all-purpose flour

  • 7 grams (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) instant yeast

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 4 tablespoons superfine sugar

  • 230 milliliters (about 1 cup) lukewarm milk

  • 2 large eggs, preferably free range

  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

For the Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon milk

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the Topping:

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large baking bowl, rub the butter into the flour. Once you have created a crumbly mixture, add the yeast on one side of the bowl, the salt and sugar on the opposite side (it is not good for the yeast to come into direct contact with the salt). Stir thoroughly.   

  2. Add the milk to the lightly whisked eggs, and pour this into the bowl with the caraway seeds.  

  3. Then, using either your hand or a wooden spoon, mix really well to create a sticky dough.

  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes (you can do this part in a mixer with a dough hook if you have one).

  5. Put the dough to rise in a large, covered bowl until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

  6. Once the dough has doubled, tip back onto the floured surface and flatten lightly into a round. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, roll each into a ball and place onto a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper or a nonstick mat.​

  7. Cover the tray with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 to 45 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas 4.

  9. Generously brush the risen buns with the glaze, then bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven). The buns should be golden brown plus light and hollow when tapped on the bottom. 

  10. Remove from the oven and then place the buns onto a cooling rack. Paint on the milk and sugar coating while still warm and immediately sprinkle on the caraway seeds—you may want to gently press them into the glaze to prevent them from slipping off. Repeat with the sugar bits.

  11. These buns are lovely eaten warm, cut and spread with salty butter. 

Recipe Tags: