How They Made It: Scottish Cream Buns with Fiona
Welcome back to our occasional series, “How They Made It,” where we explore the food and drink of Outlander. This month we’re hoping that Fiona can turn Roger’s head with Scottish Cream Buns. Slainté!
A little crush
The way to a man’s heart is though his stomach, or so the saying goes. Alas, that didn’t work out for Fiona and her crush on Roger. In Voyager, Diana described her as being an excellent cook and baker, trained as she was by her grandmother, Mrs. Graham. Our beloved Roger didn’t see Fiona’s crush and, try as she might, Fiona just didn’t stand a chance when Bree entered Roger’s life. But she did try, fussing over him and baking special treats in hopes of being noticed. In Season 3’s “Of Lost Things,” we see Fiona bringing in a tea tray laden with what I’m sure were freshly baked scones. Another treat she might have learned from Mrs. Graham and baked for Roger would be Scottish Cream Buns, light and lightly sweetened buns filled with fresh whipped cream. Perfect for an afternoon snack or dessert when you’re trying to impress.
The internet failed me
I searched online, but couldn’t find an actual history for Scottish Cream Buns, so I don’t really know when they came about. There are versions of cream buns from all over the world. Basically, they’re a treat made from an enriched bread dough (i.e., yeasted dough with egg and butter added, like brioche). After being baked and cooled, the buns are split and filled with cream. I actually was looking for a recipe for Swedish Semlor (a similar bun, flavored with cardamom) for my son-in-law when I happened across this Scottish version, a lucky find, to be sure. In any case, I could envision Fiona making Scottish Cream Buns for Roger, placing them carefully on that laden tea tray…one look at the recipe and I knew I had to try them also.
Scottish Cream Buns
- kitchen scale
- stand mixer fitted with dough hook
- baking sheet
- Silpat or parchment paper
- pastry brush
- fine mesh sieve (for dusting)
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1/2 cup water (4 fl oz, 118ml), lukewarm (100-110°F)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup milk (4 fl oz, 118ml), warmed (see Recipe Notes)
- 1/3 cup butter (2.5 oz, 75g), unsalted, melted (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 4 cups flour, all purpose (20 oz, 480g), plus more as needed to get desired consistency
- 1/3 cup sugar (2.5 oz, 66g)
- 1 tsp salt
For Simple Syrup Glaze
- 1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz, 100g)
- 1/2 cup water
Topping and Filling
- Powdered/confectioner's sugar
- Freshly whipped cream, unsweetened
- Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the lukewarm water, yeast and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Allow the yeast to rest for a few minutes, until it begins to foam (called “proofing the yeast”).
- In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the milk, melted butter and the beaten egg together. Add to the yeast mixture.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, 1/3 cup (2.5 oz, 66g) sugar and salt together. Add to the milk mixture.
- Combine and knead the dough with the mixer fitted with a dough hook until it’s smooth and slightly sticky. Roll the dough into a ball, then place in a covered bowl and let rise on the counter (or in a cool oven with the light turned on) until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- Shape the dough: After the dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 12 or 18 pieces (see Recipe Notes), either by eyeballing it or by weighing the dough and dividing by 12 or 18 (my preferred method, but I’m a sucker for precision). Shape each piece into a round ball, and place onto a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven (don’t turn it on yet) to rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. You can put a large cup of boiling water in the oven to keep the buns from developing a hard crust. Once doubled, remove the buns from the oven and preheat it to 350ºF (175ºC).
- Bake the buns: Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, prepare the simple syrup glaze by combining equal amounts of sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook just until it starts to boil and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. (see Recipe Notes)
- Remove the buns from the oven and brush them with the glaze while they are still hot. Place on a rack to cool completely.
- When cool, cut bun almost all the way through at an angle, fill with unsweetened whipped cream and dust with confectioner's sugar.
- Serve and enjoy!
Making an impression
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first bit into my freshly made and filled bun. It tasted like a cross between challah (a Jewish egg bread) and a glazed doughnut – lighter in texture than challah, heavier and less sugary than the doughnut. In other words, utterly delicious. Pair it with tea, or maybe a wee dram of a Highland scotch, like Glenmorangie, and you’ve really got yourself a treat.
Scottish Cream Buns are really quite easy to make, and I heartily encourage you to do so… you’ll definitely impress people! And if you know some of the history behind them, please comment below. I’d love to know!
What’s your go-to treat when you want to impress?
Discovering Outlander after Season 1 first aired, Tammy quickly went down the rabbit-hole on social media and podcasts and found a world of like-minded fans who not only tolerated her obsession, but encouraged the madness! She combined her Outlander-inspired interest for scotch whisky with her continuing passion for baking and storytelling in her blog, Scotch & Scones…Explorations in a glass and in the oven. Joining the staff of Outlander Cast as the resident baker has brought Tammy full circle, from a podcast fan to a contributing writer. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @scotch_scones, and find her on Facebook at @scotchandsconesblog.