Black Bun

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

black bun as its alternative name Scotch bun indicates, is a Scottish institution, a festive cake eaten at Hogmanay. Originally this cake belonged to Twelfth Night but moved to the secular festival of New Year when religious reformers banned Christmas as a festival.

Although the ‘bun’ has a long and puzzling history, the name ‘black bun’ only came into use in the early part of the 20th century. The recipe for it which was given by Meg Dods (1826) was entitled Scotch Christmas Bun. This was originally made with bread dough enriched with spices, dried fruit, eggs, and brandy and then wrapped in a plain casing of bread dough. Meg Dods said that it was made by all the leading bakers in Edinburgh in the weeks before Christmas and exported in sizes up to 16 lb (8 kg) to other parts of the United Kingdom.