Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bath Buns

My friends, we have reached another milestone moment! We have reached the last new food item in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!

"Hargrid poured them tea and offered them a plate of Bath buns, but they knew better than to accept; they had had too much experience with Hagrid's cooking" (Prisoner of Azkaban 273).

Bath is one of my favorite cities in England. Initially, I thought that Dinah Bucholz' recipe for Bath buns didn't seem to jive with the sophisticated white-stoned spa town of Bath. After tasting them, however, I can totally imagine enjoying one at a table in the courtyard between the cathedral and the Roman baths. Or perhaps at the cafe across from the Jane Austen museum. Or perhaps I should finish reminiscing and we should make some Bath buns. Again, the recipe comes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. And I have to say ahead of time, that I think there are a couple typos in the book, so hopefully I interpreted them correctly!

You Will Need:
1/4 cup warm water
2.25 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2.5 cups flour
6 Tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup dried currants or dried sweetened cranberries
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water, for brushing
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 Tbs sugar and set aside until the yeast is puffy, about 10 minutes.
3. While that is puffing, Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted. Set aside but keep warm (not hot, or you'll kill the yeast later!).
4. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
5. Whisk the eggs, lemon zest, and orange zest into the milk mixture.

6. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture, the currants/cranberries, and the caraway seeds. Mix well to combine.

7. Knead the dough (in the bowl is easiest) to combine. This dough is CRAZY sticky, so I recommend using a spatula. Ms. Bucholz says to not add any flour unless you really have to. I added 1 Tbs, but I really think I should have added 2 or 3. And unless you live somewhere that's bone-dry, you'll probably need to do the same. Knead for 10-15 minutes.
8. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, and either flip it to coat or spray the top with cooking spray. Cover the bowl and place it in a warmish place to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

9. Hopefully your dough isn't too sticky at this point, otherwise you'll have the same problem I did and dividing it will be a challenge! Regardless, halve your dough again and again until you have 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Leave the buns to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. My dough was still so sticky that the buns spread way out into each other. I also tried making some in muffin tins; those worked with my sticky dough.
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If your buns spread way out like mine, smoosh them back into individual buns. Then brush the beaten egg mixture over the buns (oops, I forgot that part) and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar (forgot that too, but who needs extra calories?).  Bake the buns for 15 minutes until golden brown.

11. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. Though I really recommend eating them warm. And they are best consumed within a couple hours, as they don't keep terribly well.

I have always really hated caraway seeds, so I was really nervous about their presence in this pastry. But they're so good! Definitely the perfect addition to a cup of tea and your favorite Austen novel... I mean Harry Potter book... or perhaps a conversation with your favorite half-giant :) Enjoy!


  1. What is your favorite recipe from this book? I made these tonight (from the book), thanks for posting it so I can pin it! I loved the caraway with two citrus peels. I used golden raisins. Also made a beef stew (not Harry's recipe) with about 1/3 bottle of red wine - Harry would have to use Pumpkin Juice I guess. Appreciated that this recipe isn't so heavy on the butter as others in the book.

    1. Thanks for reading (and for pinning!)! I think my favorite Azkaban recipe is Vegetarian Steak and Kidney Pudding. Delicious. The recipes I made for "Beer" and for "Soup" are also really great, though less directly tied to Harry Potter :)