I know there’ s a lot of fancy, swirly bread round here. Knots, and rolls, and babkas. Swirly bread is one of my absolute favourite things to make, but today I’m sharing something a little more simple, but still super delicious - a Boston Bun. I did a little crowd sourced research on Instagram, and discovered that, although it is called a Boston bun, nobody from Boston has ever heard of it - I have no idea where the name came from, but I do know it’s super yum, so lets just go from there.
The Boston bun is essentially one big brioche bun, filled with raisins, and topped with icing and covered in coconut. They are a bakery staple back home - we always used to get them as a special treat from the supermarket for being good and not standing up in the trolley while Mum and Dad shopped. Turns out it’s called two different things in New Zealand which is super weird - from what I can gather, anyone from the South Island or Wellington calls it a Boston Bun, while anyone further North calls it a Sally Lunn. This is one of the few things I can think of where things have different names throughout New Zealand. It’s strange.
Anyway, this is super simple to make, and doesn’t require any fancy folding or knotting or even rolling out of the dough. It starts with a basic enriched dough, which has some raisins kneaded through it. After the first rise, it gets patted into a disc and popped into a ring from a springform pan or a cake tin, which removes the need for any fancy shaping, and makes the bun rise nicely within the confines of the pan. Once it has baked to a fluffy, golden brown bun, it gets loaded up with a vanilla icing, and covered in shredded coconut. It’s essentially just fruity bread with icing, but it’s crazy easy and perfect for morning or afternoon tea treat with a cup of tea or coffee.
A few wee tips:
- The first rise for this can be done overnight if you like - you may just have to increase the second rising time by 30-45 minutes to account for cold dough, but this is a great option if you want to serve it for morning tea or breakfast!
- If you don’t have a stand mixer this can be done by hand - bring the dough together in a bowl, then turn onto a surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth, then incorporate the raisins.
- If you don’t have a ring to bake this in, you can do it in an 8” cake tin too. Just make sure you lightly butter it, and place a parchment paper circle in the bottom.
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Answers to your baking questions
Over the years, many of you have asked me questions about:
- baking in grams
- adjusting oven temperatures
- what kind of salt to use
- and many more!
I've curated and answered them all for your easy reference in this frequently asked questions post!
Boston Bun (Raisin Brioche Bun with Coconut Icing)
- Yield: Makes One 8 inch bun (serves 6-8) 1x
Boston Bun (Raisin Brioche Bun with Coconut Icing)
- 180g (¾ cup) whole milk, lukewarm
- 50g (¼ cup) sugar, divided
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 400g all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 100g Butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 175g Raisins or sultanas
- 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Vanilla Bean Frosting with Coconut
- 180g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- 375g powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-4 Tbsp Whole milk
- Desiccated Coconut to finish (I used threaded for the photos but finer tastes better to me)
- Place the lukewarm milk, 1 Tbsp of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the flour, salt, and remaining sugar, and mix briefly to combine.
- Add the milk mixture, egg, butter and vanilla to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. Add the raisins and mix for a minute or so to combine. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and finish kneading the raisins in by hand. Shape the dough into a ball, and then place into a lightly buttered bowl (I use my stand mixer bowl to save dishes), cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately an hour.
- Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface, and knock back the dough. Grease an 8 inch ring, such as the ring from a spring form cake pan, and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Pat the dough into a disc, and place inside the ring on the baking sheet. Gently pat the dough to the edges of the ring, making a flat disc. Cover with plastic wrap and rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffy. In the last 20 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c.
- Brush the surface of the bun with egg wash. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the surface of the bun is golden brown, and an internal temperature measures 200°f / 95°c. The bun should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
- Remove from the oven, let cool 10 minutes, then remove from the ring and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool Completely.
ICING AND ASSEMBLY
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, vanilla bean paste and salt until pale and creamy. Sift in the powdered sugar, and mix on medium speed until well combined. If needed, add milk a tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy, and a spreadable consistency.
- Spread the icing on the cooled bun, then cover generously with desiccated coconut.
- Slice and serve with butter if desired. Best eaten on the day it is made, but leftovers can keep in an airtight container at room temperature.
Hi Erin, this looks delicious! I’d never heard of this until recently. I am curious about something. A lot of online references refer to this as a “spiced” bread, but the recipes I’m finding don’t seem to use much spice. It sounds like in NZ your experience was that they were more like this, a sweet bread. I wonder what kinds of spices they used to use.
Hi! I'm not too sure! The ones we had never had spices, they were made as I've written the recipe here. I would assume it would be like a brown sugar cinnamon situation!
Hi, I'm a Thai in NZ. My husband really loves this kind of bun, thanks for sharing the recipe, sure I will give it a try.
Hiii! I hope you enjoy!!
Hi again Erin,
I made the bun last night possibly a bit thick.
I haven't put the icing on yet, we cut a sample piece for checking the taste and ohhh !!!! we both love it.
Thank you so much
Do you think that you could make this recipe as small buns? If so, any tips on when to divide into buns and baking time?
I used to get the most amazing little brioche raisin and slivered almond buns at the markets with a little egg washed and crunchy sugar top, I might try to replicate them!!
Hi! I think you could but I haven't tried it sorry! You would divide after the first rise 🙂
Made this today and it tastes amazing. We all loved it. I remember my parents buying these for us when I was a little girl too. I will definitely be making this again, it was very simple to do and the dough rose really well. Icing nice and simple too.. thanks for the recipe.
Hi! I am so happy you loved it! x
I made this yesterday during Nz lockdown.. this is absolutely incredible! A childhood fav! Love love love. I shared the loved and dropped some of it in a couple Neighbors letters boxes!
Thank you for sharing such easy and amazing recipes! 😋
I made this Boston Bun as a school holidays boredom buster with the kids. So delicious! My son said it’s better than a bakers delight tea bun.
Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and improving my baking repertoire.