"Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella and went through the wood to the bakers. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns" The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
The currant buns mentioned in this classic children's tale are a classic of the English kitchen. When Beatrix Potter was writing about the buns in the early 1900's, buns would have been yeast based and bought from the local baker who would make a batch of buns to bake in the already hot oven after baking the day's bread. Or as here, so easily baked at home.
They are as loved today as they were when Peter Rabbit and his pals enjoyed them. They are so easy to make and super-delicious when eaten slightly warm with lots of butter. You will find Currant Buns served as a tea time treat a morning snack with a cup of tea or coffee, in a lunch box and even toasted by the fire as a winter treat too.
- 12 oz plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 2 oz cold butter (cut into tiny cubes plus extra for greasing)
- 1 oz caster sugar
- ½ tablespoon fast acting dried yeast
- Tiny pinch salt
- 100ml milk mixed with 100 ml of tepid water (mixed together)
- 2 oz currants*
- For Glazing:
- 2 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon cold water
Sift the flour into a large baking bowl. Add the butter cubes and quickly rub together using your fingertips to create a sand-like texture. Add the sugar and the yeast and stir, finally add the tiny pinch of salt. Stir again.
Add the mixed milk and water and using a dinner knife draw the mixture together to form a loose dough. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead to create a soft, smooth dough. The dough is ready when pressed it springs back.
Spread the dough using both hands and tip the currants onto the surface. Roll the dough up and knead again to incorporate the currants through the dough.
Place the dough into a clean, lightly greased (use a little butter) cover with a tea cloth and place in a warm (but not hot) place and leave the dough to rise until doubled. Do not rush this process, a slower rise always results in a better finish. This should take about 1 ½ hours.
Once the dough rises, gently tip it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to smooth the dough out again.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, grease lightly with s little butter and put to one side.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (each piece should roughly weigh 60g each but there is no need to be too exact, these are homemade buns). Place onto the baking sheets.
Cover once more with a tea cloth and leave for approx 20 minutes for the buns to rise once again.
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7 (lower slightly if using a fan or steam oven).
Place the baking sheet into the center of the preheated oven and cook for 12 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes then move to a cooling rack.
While the buns are cooling, place the apricot jam and water into a small saucepan (or microwaveable bowl). Heat the melt the jam slightly then mix to form a loose glaze.
Paint the glaze over the surface of the buns using a pastry brush.
The buns are super-delicious when eaten slightly warm spread with butter. Also good cold, and if a day or so old, then toast and once again spread with butter.
Store the buns in an airtight container, they will keep for at least 2 days but as mentioned above may need toasting.
Notes on Making English Currant Buns:
* If you can find them, use tiny, soft sweet Zante currants, they are readily available but if you can't find them, use ordinary dried baking currants.