Revel Buns

Traditional Easter Recipe: Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I passed a law banning the consumption of Hot Cross Buns except during Easter, Christmas and funerals? But today they are common throughout the year. Gone are the days when bakers opened on Good Friday morning until about 11.00 am and then only to sell Easter buns. The tradition of Hot Cross Buns originated in pagan times. Introduced to our shores by the Romans, the bun was said to represent the moon and the cross represented its four quarters.

It is said that Father Thomas Rockcliffe distributed small spiced cakes amongst the poor in St Albans on Good Friday morning in 1361 and the rest, as we say, is history. The Christian church adopted these spiced buns and reinstated the cross with its obvious Easter connotation. Many believed the buns had the power to protect them from evil and would hang them from their kitchen ceilings. (We believe the same about the pancakes stuck to the ceiling since tossing them on Shrove Tuesday!) Others would grind them down to a powder and use them to treat illnesses. It was also rumoured that buns baked on Good Friday would never go mouldy.

The Revel Bun was the forerunner of the now familiar Hot Cross Bun and possibly the type of bun first distributed in 1361. The consistency of these buns is more like a scone but with a yeasty taste. Personally I have never liked scones but I really enjoyed this twist on the scone theme.

Ingredients - makes 16

Generous pinch of saffron strands ¾oz (22g) fresh yeast
¼ pint (150ml) hot milk 1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 lb (450g) plain flour 4oz (125g) clotted cream
Pinch of salt 2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 4oz (125g) currants
4oz (125g) butter  
For the glaze: Beaten egg and caster sugar for sprinkling  


  1. Soak the saffron in the hot milk for 30 mins.
  2. Sift flour, salt and cinnamon into a bowl and rub in the butter.
  3. Cream the yeast with the teaspoon of caster sugar.
  4. When the milk and saffron mixture is lukewarm, strain and gradually blend it into the yeast mixture along with the clotted cream and beaten eggs.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture.
  6. Add currants and mix to a soft dough.
  7. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.
  8. Return to the bowl and cover and allow to stand in a refrigerator overnight until double in size.
  9. Next day, shape the dough into 16 round buns. Arrange on a greased baking tray, cover and stand in a warm place for 15 mins.
  10. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  11. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for 15 mins or until they are firm and golden brown.
  12. Cool on a wire rack, or serve immediately spread with plenty of butter.

(I caught my Official Taster eating the Revel Buns with the remaining clotted cream and some home made blackberry jam. He looked sheepish, but happy.)


Saffron Buns
SAFFRON - for Revel Buns
Dried Fruit