Waterloo Buns


While bearing a strong family resemblance to their older Chelsea bun cousins, what John has created here is instead leavened with sourdough starter; leaves out the often used milk, eggs and lemon peel; and uses marmalade and cream as a glaze, with the spices there, rather than in the dough. As with many of John’s creations, these are named after a battle, as he says, “Each loaf is a small victory for life, crafted with nature rather than against it.”

FROM MIXING TO OVEN: 8½–13½ hours
BAKING TIME: 25 minutes


For the Pre-Ferment

  • 75g/oz/5 tbsp white sourdough starter at 75% hydration
  • 130g/oz/1 cup minus 1 tbsp white bread flour
  • 100g/oz/¾ cup minus 1 tbsp wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour
  • 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup wholemeal/wholegrain (dark) rye flour
  • 190g/oz/¾ cup plus 1 tbsp water

For the Dough

  • 300g/10½oz/2 cups plus 2 tbsp white bread flour
  • 100g/oz/½ cup minus 1 tbsp water
  • 55g/2oz/ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 6g/1 tsp fine/table salt
  • 70g/oz/5 tbsp unsalted butter

For the Filling and Glaze

  • 100g/oz/¾ cup raisins
  • a little water and brandy
  • 40g/oz/3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 50g/oz/scant ¼ cup marmalade
  • 2–3g/about ¾ tsp ground mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
  • 25g/1oz/2 tbsp double/heavy cream


  1. For this recipe, you need a sourdough starter at 75% hydration: a flour to water ratio of 4:3 by weight, or 100g/4oz/¾ cup minus 1 tbsp flour to every 75g/3oz/scant cup of water. The day before baking, cover the raisins for the filling with a mixture of water and brandy, and leave to soak.
  2. The next day, mix all of the pre-ferment ingredients together thoroughly, cover and leave at room temperature for 4–8 hours, then mix the pre-ferment with all of the dough ingredients except the butter. Knead the dough until smooth, then knead in the butter until fully absorbed and the dough is smooth and silky again. Cover the dough and leave at room temperature for 2 hours, giving it a single fold after 40 minutes.
  3. Dust the work surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 30x36cm/12x14in and 5mm/¼in thick. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for 5–10 minutes, then beat the butter and sugar for the filling together and spread this evenly over the dough. Drain the raisins and dot them evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough from a short edge like a Swiss/jelly roll, then dust the outside with flour. Cut this into 12 equal-size slices.
  4. Grease a 30x25cm/12x10in baking tin with sides at least 5cm/2in high, and arrange the dough slices, lying flat and about 1cm/½in apart. Cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 2–3 hours until they are touching and about 5cm/2in high.
  5. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas 4 and bake the buns for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, warm the marmalade in a pan over a low heat until just liquid, then add the spice, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Transfer the buns from the oven onto a wire rack and leave to cool for 5–10 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over them.