“‘Eat,’ Jon told him. ‘There’s no knowing when you’ll have another chance.’ He took two buns himself. The nuts were pine nuts, and besides the raisins there were bits of dried apple.” -A Storm of Swords
The Elizabethan buns look cute, if a little strange, but they taste very good. The sherry gives them an innate sweetness that is only increased if you have a bite with a raisin in it. I was fairly unimpressed when I first tried them, but found that the more I ate, the fonder I became of these little buns. And if you imagine yourself to be on the Wall, facing down dangerous threats and overwhelming odds, they’re even better.
Check out this entry in The Cookbook for another historical recipe, as well as a delicious modern version!
Elizabethan Buns Recipe
Take flower & sugar & nutmeg & cloves, & mace, & sweet butter, & sack, & a little ale barme, beat your spice, & put in your butter, & your sack, cold, then work it well all together, & make it in little cakes, & so bake them, if you will you may put in some saffron into them or fruit. -Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, 1604
My Changes: I kept the original recipe pretty much intact, and just added the pine nuts, raisins, and apples to match the description in the book.
- 4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and mace
- 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup sweet sherry, warmed
- 1 Tbs. yeast
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried apples, chopped small
Dissolve the yeast in about 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. While that is dissolving, melt butter into the warmed sherry, then let cool so as not to kill the yeast. Mix together the flour, sugar, spices, and dried fruit and pine nuts. Work in the yeast mixture, then the sherry/butter mixture, and add as much more sherry as needed to make a light, firm, elastic dough.
Knead for around 5 minutes, then leave to rise for a few hours. Shape dough into buns on baking sheets, and leave them to rise again. Bake ~20 minutes at 400 degrees F.