The original eighteenth-century recipe contained caraway comfits instead of sultanas. These are now unobtainable and, in any case, the flavour of caraway seeds is disliked by many people today. This recipe also suggests flavouring with rosewater and sherry, but this gives the delicious, buttery rich buns a rather unexpected and slightly musty flavour.
Mix one-third of the flour with the beaten eggs, yeast and vanilla in a bowl. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the butter into the remaining flour and work in the castor sugar, so that a stiff paste is formed.
When the yeast mixture has risen, work it into the butter paste, adding the sultanas as you do so.
Butter baking sheets and shake flour over them. Put tablespoonfuls of the bun mixture well apart on the baking sheets. Brush each bun over with the unbeaten white of egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Leave to prove for 30 to 40 minutes or until the buns have puffed up.
©1980 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton