Venetian Raisin Buns

raisin buns raisin_buns-3
Raisin buns appear in some of the 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.

You see, 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 their top golden. And yet, they hit all my soft spots, not least because they are never too sweet, and become the perfect vessel for some moreish toppings – jam, surely, but also ricotta, honey, and even butter and ham.

The recipe I’m sharing here is part of this month’s instalment of Italian Table Talk, which is dedicated to the rituals of breakfast. Find it alongside Emiko‘s cherry crostatine, Jasmine‘s cosy torta margherita, and Giulia‘s classic Italian cornetti.


Raisin Buns

Makes about 18 small buns

100 g /3 ½ oz/ 2/3 cup raisins
250ml /8 ½ fl oz/ 1 cup whole milk, plus more for brushing
85 g/ 2 ¾ oz / 4 tablespoons liquid malt (rice or barley)
300 g /10 ½ oz / 2 cups + 2 tablespoons strong while bread flour
200 g / 7 oz/ scant 1 1/2 cups plain white flour
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 g / 0.12 oz/ 1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
50 g /1 ¾ oz/ 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. Alison May 20, 2013

    I am right there with you, and could so identify with all of this post. It's reassuring to know that some of us have had the same food walk. Here in Vermont it is finally warming up and we are making the switch from porridge to fruit and buns for breakfast. I'm looking forward to adding these to our rotation. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

    • Valeria May 24, 2013

      Thank you, Alison. Vermont must look gorgeous by now, I long for visiting in the summer sometime!

  2. Emiko May 20, 2013

    This Italian Table Talk series has been so interesting for discovering eac other's personal breakfast habits! We, it appears, are two peas in a pod with our muesli and porridge and being so hungry in the morning (I fully understand your fear of blood tests). I only didn't reveal one thing: my love for raisin bread! I love it for all the same reasons. Am very curious about your grandmother's pagnottelle made with polenta – do you have a similar recipe? x

  3. Regula May 20, 2013

    I've always been a big fan of breakfasts, I love eating them in courses very much like the english do. First yoghurt, oatmeal or muesly, fruit, then protein in bacon and eggs and then toast with marmelade. All washed down with a black earl grey, this sets me off for the day. Of course the daily ratrace doesn't allow for long breakfasts so now it's just oatmeal and a pureed apple with some almonds for me.
    Lovely buns, I'm sure I'll like them!

    • Valeria May 24, 2013

      See, fry up has never appealed to me. I like a good brunch with toast and poached egg over spinach or mushrooms from time to time, or a seedy bagel with salmon, or pancakes, but bacon has never ever appealed to me. I'll take soda bread/scone with clotted cream or porridge any day instead 🙂

  4. Francesca P. May 20, 2013

    Che luce splendida in queste foto, i miei più vivi complimenti… 🙂

  5. 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? 😀

  6. 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

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      Grazie mille, Simo! Piacere di averti nel mio spazietto 🙂


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