Venetian Raisin Buns

raisin buns
Raisin buns appear in some of my sweetest childhood memories. Every now and then, Mum would buy me one at the local bakery. I was then allowed to have it for breakfast the morning after, slathered with jam. Small or big, round or long, I loved them to bits. That sort of breakfast was (and still is) truly unbeatable.

These raisin buns are far from fancy. They are just bundles of buttery, milky dough studded with raisins and glazed with some egg wash to make them golden on top. And yet, they hit all my soft spots, not least because they are never too sweet and can act as a vessel for some moreish toppings – butter and jam, surely, but also ricotta and honey, or even cheese and ham.


Raisin Buns

Makes about 18 small buns

100 g  ( 2/3 cup) raisins
250ml (1 cup) whole milk, plus more for brushing
85 g (4 tablespoons) liquid malt (rice or barley)
300 g (2 cups) strong while bread flour
200 g (1 1/2 cups) plain white flour
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 g (1 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
50 g (3 ½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, for brushing

Soak the raisins in warm water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan. Once steamy, add the malt and whisk until dissolved. Set aside momentarily.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, Make a small well on a side and place the salt inside it. On the opposite side, make another small well and add the yeast. In the centre, make a larger well and add the soft butter, cubed, and the warm milk with the malt. Start working all the ingredients with a wooden spoon at first, then with your hands. If the dough feels too dry – it should be soft but not sticky – add a tablespoon of milk at the time until it reaches the right texture. It might need none.

Tumble the dough on a floured work surface and stir in the raisins. Work them into the dough, then start kneading energetically for about 30 minutes, stretching and throwing the ball of dough until the surface is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can do all this in a stand mixer, first with the paddle and then with the hook attachment on.

Place the dough in a clean bowl. Cover it with cling film and leave it to rise and double in size – the exact time depends on the temperature in the room, it generally takes from 1 ½ hour to 2 ½ hours.

Take the dough and divide it into 16 to 18 smaller balls. Stretch them slightly and tuck the edges under. Place them, folded side down, on two baking trays lined with parchment. Cover with clean tea towels and leave to rise for 40-45 minutes.

Close to baking time, preheat the oven to 240°C/465°F/gas mark 9, and set the rack in the middle. Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of milk and use this to brush the top of the buns. Bake the first batch for 8-10 minutes, until deep golden on top, and then proceed with the second. Allow the buns to cool on a rack.

Once cooled, you can store them in a plastic bag, though they are best eaten straight away or within 3 days.






  1. martina May 21, 2013

    I did this as soon as I read this post in the morning…lovely! Very glad I give them a try. thanks for the recipe, it's perfect! Love those tulips, too. Martina

    • Valeria May 24, 2013

      Oh so glad you liked them! I have to say, it took me a while before getting them the way I like –the first time they turned out a bit dry, but now I am quite pleased with the recipe. those tulips are wild from the park, could you believe it? 😀

  2. journeycake May 24, 2013

    Bellissime le tue foto, e magistralmente scritta la tua pagina, davvero brava! Bello a volte trovare un linguaggio così curato e nello stesso tempo non pretenzioso. Complimenti. simo

  3. Catarina October 14, 2017

    Those look amazing! I don’t have liquid malt (nor maple syrup for that matter), can i use honey instead? Probably in less quantity than if using the malt..? Grazie

    • Valeria October 14, 2017

      Hi Catarina, you can replace malt with honey, sure! I’d go for a runny, mild-tasting one for these. Hope you like them! x

      • Catarina November 1, 2017

        The whole family enjoyed them! 🙂 Instead of honey I ended up using, what we call in Portugal, água-mel (honey-water perhaps?). I don’t know if you have this honey by-product in Italy.. It’s the result of washing honeycomb in order to retrieve its residual honey (therefore it’s less sweet and more runny than honey). I will, for sure, try more of your recipes 🙂 (oh, I added lemon and orange zest and the house smelled wonderfully, like I had baked panettone).

  4. Pamela October 24, 2017

    Where does one find the malt? If at all possible I always prefer following a recipe to the letter at least the first time or two until I get a real feel for it until I see if there is anything that might suit my personal taste better. That was in a different life though. In this lifetime fate won’t allow me eat anything with gluten. Believe me, this is NOT by choice but ONLY due to medical necessity. Look out if they ever create the treatment or medication they keep saying will allow people with gluten intolerance to occasionally consume gluten again. I’ll probably knock old ladies over getting to some of the foods I haven’t had in DECADE or more. At least its FAR easier now to do baking gluten free than it was at my diagnosis. 12 years ago not ONE item was in normal grocery stores. However, even though items exist doesn’t make them edible. I’ve tried some wretched GF items. It’s just easier to go without than eat some of it. Recipes are easier overall with “all purpose” substitute This brings me to the first question. Has anyone tried doing this GF yet using GF Bread Flour substitute? King Arthur Flour does one of the very best on the market.

    Next question, some family members – NOT raisin fans. I’m included in that but not so much as it used to be. As a kid I DESPERATELY wanted to like raisins because (only a kid would do this) I loved the little red boxes other kids had in their lunches. I know, silly, but I just could NOT learn to like raisins. Is there anything else that works as well giving the same sort of feel or “taste” the raisins do? I think its the sweetness of the raisins. As odd as it sounds I never have liked very sweet foods. Probably the only kid in the state that didn’t. I do NOT like sickening sweet Halloween Candy Corn or Wilton’s recipe for buttercream and the icings all women made in my childhood BEFORE the cans of premade frosting arrived. Every woman, including my mother used to make a disgustingly sweet frosting to put on almost every cake. I think this is one reason red velvet cake became so insanely popular, everyone loves it because the cream cheese frosting isn’t nearly so sweet as what they all used to make. My great-grandmother (my Memaw)(who was also my babysitter along with my great-grandfather) noticed I always scraped the icing from my cake. So….she introduced me to German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. I knew there was a reason I loved that woman more than any other human on the face of the earth. Fifty years later its STILL my favorite and the only cake that when its “in the house” I won’t share and will not stay out of it until it’s gone. Now its the only sweet I’ll cheat just a little bit on my GF diet, not the entire cake it used to be. Having to go GF put a damper on enjoying this cake. I have discovered a GF that tastes like the original yet. It’s so depressing. Well, they’re my 3 issues, where to find the malt, has it been done GF and is there a good substitute for raisins? Any thoughts on these? Many thanks!

    • Valeria October 27, 2017

      Hi Pamela, thank you for your comment. As far as malt goes, you can swap it with a mild-tasting honey in this recipe, or else with rice syrup. Instead of plain flour, use your trusted all-pourpuse gluten free flour – I’ve never tried to bake these GF myself, but it should work. Instead of raisins, you can use chocolate chips or other chopped dried fruits like dates. Hope this helps, let me know!


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