This Iced Bun recipe comes from the Highlands of Scotland in the late 1800s and it is a traditional family recipe passed on down the generations. These buns are simple to bake and yet delicious when made, the only thing to remember here is to chop the walnuts up small to sprinkle evenly over the top, this improves the look and taste of the iced buns over using large, uneven chopped nuts. To see more Scottish Highland Recipes read this section Highland Regional Recipes.
The bun mixture in the original recipe method says it is to be ‘divided’ into balls, it therefore requires it to be a stiffer mixture than a ‘cake’ batter – meaning the resultant buns are slightly heavier than a lighter ‘sponge’ cake. This recipe probably developed at the end of the 1800s using baking powder instead of an earlier bun recipe calling for fresh yeast as the leavening agent, making it once closer to the texture of bread. This ‘new’ ingredient baking powder or baking soda, at the end of the 1800s, saved time in the kitchen, but it somewhat altered the results of the older recipes which used yeast.
Inverness Iced Buns Recipe
Makes 6 iced buns
- 120g (8 tbsp) honey
- 120g sugar
- 120g butter
- 320g plain flour
- 70g chopped walnuts
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 130g icing (powdered) sugar
- a little cold water
Grease a 6 bun tin or a large 6 muffin tin with butter.
In a heavy based saucepan gently melt the butter, then add and stir in the sugar to dissolve, then add and stir in the honey. On a low heat mix everything together until the honey combines with the dissolved sugar and melted butter (this takes a few minutes). Once melted allow to cool for a few minutes off the heat.
In a large mixing bowl sift in the plain flour and the baking powder, make a well in the centre and stir in the wet ingredients from the saucepan. Then mix in the beaten eggs and the ground almonds.
This mixture should be a slightly stiff one that can be rolled in your hands (almost like bread dough) into balls – add in some extra plain flour to achieve this consistency if needed.
Break the bun mixture up and roll it into 6 equal sized balls. Put each ball into one of the greased bun or muffin tray wells. Then cover the tray, a good idea is to put the tray into a plastic bag and fold over the end to seal. Leave covered somewhere warm for 30 minutes for the bun mixture to settle down.
Preheat the oven to 180C
After 30 minutes uncover the tray and bake in an oven at 180C for 15 minutes, or until golden and baked. A skewer pushed into the centre of a bun should come out clean and hot.
While the Inverness Buns are baking mix together a little cold water and some icing (powdered) sugar until a smooth paste is made – it is remarkable how little water you will need, just a few drops – it should not be too wet or too dry but pliable enough to spread with a knife over the buns when they have been allowed to cool. If exposed to the air for too long it will dry out, just add and mix in a few extra drops of water when needed.
Once the buns are baked turn them out onto a cooling wire rack and leave to cool – do not try to ice warm buns. Once cooled spread over the top some of the icing, then sprinkle over some finely chopped walnuts. Serve or keep the Inverness Iced Buns in an air-tight cake tin – they are best eaten on the day of baking.
Iced Buns (Grannie MacRae’s recipe from Inverness)
A recipe from ‘Grannie MacRae’ by Jennifer Howie. “My grandfather (Grandpa MacRae) was the meal miller in Inverness and his wife (the famed Grannie) was in service before she was married; so with access to fresh oatmeal for use and trade, and years of experience in service she was a good cook.” Mrs. J Howie.
Ingredients: 3oz honey; 2oz sugar; 2oz margarine; 4oz plain flour; 3 tbsp chopped walnuts; 4 tbsp ground almonds; ½ tsp; baking soda; 1 egg
Method: Melt the honey, marg and sugar together on the hob, but DO NOT boil. Sift together flour and baking soda then, sifting a second time, add then to the wet ingredients along with the nuts and egg. Mix well and divide into balls which will fill Queen cake tins. Fill each Queen cake tin full. Bake at 350F / 180C / gas 4 for about 15 minutes until golden. When cool, mix 4oz icing sugar with a little water to make icing ice the buns; topping with 3 tbsp chopped walnuts.