The Colston Bun


This sweet bun is ingrained quite heavily with Bristol’s history. The name, Colston, may be familiar to some of you raised in Bristol, or the area local to it. To those who may not recognise the name, Sir Edward Colston was a merchant venturer known in the city of Bristol for his philanthropic gestures, notably including his donations towards schools and other causes. Colston has become divisive in more recent times as a result of the fact that the main source of his income was heavily related to the slave trade. As such, the bun, along with Colston, has fallen out of favour. Sir Edward Colston has some notable establishments named after him in Bristol, and there has been much discussion about the possible renaming of these to match present day values.

As rare as it may be to find one of these from bakeries now in Bristol, the recipe is still public knowledge. The buns are made of dough supplemented with dried fruit, candied peel and sweet spices. The bun comes into two size categories. The first of which is a larger ‘dinner plate’ with eight wedge marks on the surface, and the other is smaller with the intention of staving off hunger.


Ingredients for one share-sized bun:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
2 tbsp demerara sugar
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup warm soya milk
2 tbsp vegan margarine, melted
Margarine for greasing

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice

3-4 dried apricots, chopped
1 cup mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, figs, blueberries)
Zest from ½ lemon
Juice of ½ a small orange



Soak the dried fruit in the orange juice for about 20 mins then strain, keeping the juice.

Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl with all the spices and soaked fruit and zest and mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the warm milk, orange juice and the melted margarine.

Mix everything together to form a dough. (If it’s too dry, add a little warm water; if it’s too wet, add more flour).

Knead on a floured surface for at least 5 minutes until the dough is springy.

Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size (this should take about one hour).

Knock the dough back by kneading it for a few seconds.

Dust a baking tray with flour.

Use a little flour to help you shape the dough into a smooth round loaf.

Place on the baking tray. Flatten it down a bit,

With a sharp knife, score the top of each loaf into eight pie-shaped sections, so that the sections can be more easily broken off.

Cover the tray loosely with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for about 20 mins.

Heat oven to 180°C.

Bake for 20 mins, then cool before eating.

(recipe courtesy of