Buns are almost universally popular and have been for centuries. Variations are numerous with regional varieties taking on their town’s name, Bath and Chelsea being obvious examples and add some intrigue as to the nature of the bun…Others take their name from their ingredients, currant buns for example don’t leave much to ponder.

Good for a snack, especially if out enjoying the sunshine on a walk or cycle, I asked Vanessa to share her best bun recipe. Her toffee buns are sweet and perfectly chewy and light - the perfect combination!

We often think of the fast food culture as being a recent thing, but women who joined the male work force in Britain’s factories in the 19th century increasingly relied on convenience food such as pasties and pies and buns. Today is no different. Most people who are working rarely find the time to bake from scratch on a daily basis, but as I’m not keen on buying commercial buns, I was keen to come up with an easy recipe reminiscent of traditional 19th century British buns. I took my inspiration from a late 19th century housekeeping book. It’s a delicious recipe and well worth taking the time to bake.

I vary the nuts depending on what I have in at the time. Pecans are a firm favourite, walnuts and hazelnuts work equally well, in the case of this recipe I simply used up all the leftover nuts I had in the pantry.

One of the secrets to successful baking is using the right flour. I cannot stress this enough; for toffee buns I like "00" flour as it has good mid-level proteins making the dough robust enough to handle with the strength to hold stiffness too.

To get the sugar to caramelize you need to get the heat up high so use a good heavy gauge sponge tin a cheap lightweight one is a false investment. A proper one will pay back two fold not only will the tin last and last but it will bake much more evenly so that the middle is properly baked (this is why the professionals use good tins). For this recipe, it makes sure that the buns in the middle are caramelised.

You will need 2 x 9” heavy-gauge sponge tins.

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


Simply put all these into your basket: La Cloche, Gilchesters Organic White Flour 1.5kg, Dough Scraper, Scoring Knife and a sachet of Lev. Then in the checkout use coupon code JULYCLOCHE. We will do the rest, apart from making your first loaf that is.

Recipe: Vanilla Toffee Buns


About 4 hours before you want to bake take the milk, and butter out of the fridge, and your eggs (if you keep them in the fridge that is!)

Add all the dough ingredients into a bowl together and mix on a low setting on a stand mixer with dough hook. Gradually turn the speed of the mixer up to its highest setting for about 15 minutes and then turn down for about 5 minutes or until the dough is fully developed. You can tell that it is fully developed as it will become elastic and if you stretch it the dough will become transparent.


Cover the bowl and leave for 2 hours on the side then transfer into the fridge. This gives the dough time to really develop a more complex flavour.

In the meantime mix all the filling ingredients together for the cinnamon paste, cover and set to one side.


Butter and flour your cake tins then remove your sweet dough from the fridge. Turn the dough out gently onto a work surface dusted with flour and roll out to about 55cm long and 35cm wide. The dough should be about 8mm thick. Spread a thin layer of the cinnamon paste over the dough leaving a 2 cm strip along the long side without any filling. Brush this with egg wash. Starting at the wide end covered in the paste gently roll the dough evenly into a long log towards the egg washed end. Keep going until you roll up the egg wash to seal the buns. Dust lightly with flour.

Mix together all the ingredients for the nut topping, then transfer to the base of the buttered and floured cake tins. Then using a sharp knife cut the log into 12 equal slices and pop them into the cake tin on top of the nut mixture. Leave to prove for about 45 minutes. Brush with the egg wash.


Preheat the oven to 200C and then drop the temperature as the buns go in to 175C place the tray in the oven for about 15 - 18 minute until they are golden and the toffee is caramelised.

Don’t leave these in the tin for very long as they will start to set – but - don’t burn yourself either as the sugar is very hot. Leave them for about 2 minutes to cool a little then turn them out on to a cooling rack and leave to set with the nuts and toffee facing up.

360g whole milk
2 free range eggs
1 tsp Ndali Vanilla powder
650g Mulino Marino Type"00" Soffiata
18g (2 sachets) organic dry yeast
75g soft brown sugar
10g super-fine salt
7g Diax
zest of either an orange or a lemon
75g slightly salted butter


60g unsalted butter
120g soft brown sugar
10g ground cinnamon
15g Mulino Marino Type"00" Soffiata Nut


300g nuts (pecans or 150g walnuts + 150g Hazelnuts)
100g unsalted butter
60g granulated sugar
60g soft brown sugar

Egg wash (beaten egg)

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