Belgian buns, 19th century


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For



Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

These are George Read’s Belgian buns from his 1854 book, The Complete Biscuit and Gingerbread Baker’s Assistant. Unlike modern Belgian buns, these buns are rather like rock cakes.


  • 80 g ( oz) blanched almonds
  • 85 g (3 oz) butter
  • 225 g (8 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125 g ( oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 75 g ( oz) currants
  • 40 g ( oz) candied citrus peel
  • zest of ½ lemon, grated
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash


Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cut the almonds in half with a sharp knife and then in half again. Reserve some of the almonds to decorate the top of the buns.

Rub the butter into the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and knead until the dough comes together. Fold in the almonds, currants, citrus peel and lemon zest.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and roll each into a ball. Place on the tray and push down a little. Brush the buns with the egg wash and place a few pieces of almond in the middle of each one.

Bake for 40 minutes until the buns are golden.