Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sally Lunn Bread

Buy my nice Sally Lunn,
The very best of Bunn,
I think her the sweetest of any.

Yes, Sally Lunn Bread. This is a great cross between a sponge cake and a bread. This treat dates back to the 1680's and Bath, England. There are competing stories about the origin of the bread and its name.

An early story involves the name coming from "Soleil et Lune" (Sun and Moon) referring to the golden color on top and white interior. Supposedly, the bread was brought over from France by Protestant refugees fleeing persecution by the Roman Catholics after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. The English bakers who sold the bread bastardized the French to it's phonetic "Sally Lunn."

A competing story is that a French Protestant Huguenot named Solange Lunn found work in a bakery in Bath where she eventually began to make the bread. Customers began to request the "Sally Lunn" bread specifically because of her skill in creating a soft and airy dough. By the late 1700's the recipe had caught on in fashionable circles.

Interestingly, Charles Dickens mentions Sally Lunns in his book The Chimes saying that dreary evenings are "the sort of night that's meant for muffins. . . Likewise crumpets. Also Sally Lunns."

I first experienced this great bread at Colonial Williamsburg about 25 years ago.

Sally Lunn Bread is wonderful when served warm with butter. The traditional treatment is to split them horizontally and slather with butter than replace the tops and slice to serve. This method of serving works best when they are made as smaller buns rather than a large cake/loaf, though.

So, here is a modern adaptation of the traditional Sally Lunn Bread...


1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Shortening
4 Cups sifted All-Purpose Flour (divided)
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Packages Active Dry Yeast
3 Eggs


Preheat oven to 350°F for 10 minutes before Sally Lunn Bread is ready to be baked.

Grease a 10-inch tube cake pan or a bundt pan.

Heat the milk, shortening, and 1/4 cup of water until very warm—about 120°F. Shortening does not need to melt.

Blend 1 1/3 cups of flour with sugar, salt, and dry yeast in a large mixing bowl. Blend warm liquids into flour mixture.

Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Gradually add 2/3 cup of the remaining flour and the eggs and beat at high speed for 2 minutes.

Add the remaining flour and mix well. Batter will be thick but not stiff.

Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 85°F) until double in bulk—about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Beat dough down with a spatula or at lowest speed on an electric mixer and turn into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until increased in bulk one-third to one-half—about 30 minutes.

Bake 40–50 minutes at 350°F. run knife around the center and outer edges of the bread and turn onto a plate to cool.

If you'd like a bit of a sheen to the top crust, brush with egg just before baking. My mama also used to dust the finished bread with a little powdered sugar if it was going to be served with jams or as a sweet for after dinner or with tea.

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