Last updated on March 12th, 2021
Sally Lunn is an 18th century bread made from flour, yeast, milk, and eggs. I love it for toast, French toast, and for simply topping with good butter and homemade strawberry jam. It’s certainly an easy bread to make. The only special equipment you’ll need is a stout spoon! My video and printable recipe for this luxurious loaf:
Sally Lunn (Batter Bread): The Video Recipe
Click the “play” arrow to watch the video. And please forgive the occasional critiquing from Tiger the Cat. She’s the most judgmental feline you will ever encounter.
Historical notes, per Wikipedia:
There is little historical evidence for Sally Lunn as a person. The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1798 uses Sally Lunn as an example during a discussion of foods named after people—”a certain sort of hot rolls, now, or not long ago, in vogue at Bath, were gratefully and emphatically styled ‘Sally Lunns'”. But it is not until 1827 that a historical person is described by a correspondent of William Hone using the pseudonym “Jehoiada“, who says she had sold the buns on the street “about thirty years ago”. A baker called Dalmer had bought out her business and made it highly successful after he composed a special song for the vendors, who sold the buns from mobile ovens. The earliest evidence of commercial production is an 1819 advertisement for the Sally Lunn “cakes” sold by W. Needes of Bath, bread and biscuit maker to the Prince Regent.
And there you have it. Nobody seems to know why the bread is called “Sally Lunn!”
History Update: I found this comment from reader Lucinda Russell to be most informative:
Thanks for the lovely recipe and the not-inaccurate story of Sally Lunn. As you say, “she” was not a real person. My degrees are in history, and I put them to good use working in various museums and historic sites, including those of the US National Park Service. I conducted classes in historic cookery, and researched the origins of Sally Lunn.
Before it reached the city of Bath, England, it was a French bun, known as “Soleil et Lune,” the sun and the moon”. The sun was the golden outside, and the moon was the pale inside. When the lovely bread crossed the Channel, arriving in Bath first, girls were hired to hawk it in the streets, calling out, “Soleil et Lune”. Neither they, nor their clientele knew the French, and thought they were saying “Sally Lunn”. Undoubtedly, this is what the girls were actually saying. And so the legends of a girl named Sally Lunn grew. Nowadays, even respectable cookbooks with excellent recipes for the treat tell “her story”. I have made it many times, and folks are impressed.
Bread Pans for Sally Lunn
You can bake this Sally Lunn in a common 9×5-inch bread pan. I used a 13-inch pain de mie (i.e., “Pullman”) pan, simply because I wanted to create a perfectly rectangular loaf. Another option is to divide the batter between two 8×4-inch pans.
The pain de mie pan is an old-fashioned French bread pan that comes with a lid. The lid stops the bread dough from forming a crown as it rises in the oven. If you own such a pan, you might like to try my recipe for French Sandwich Bread. Click here to view it.
Whatever bread pan you use, I hope you’ll bake yourself a loaf of Sally Lunn. And if you do, I hope you’ll let me know how the bread worked out for you! xKevin
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And here’s the printable recipe:
Sally Lunn (Batter Bread)
- 1/2 cup warm (110-115°F) milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup warm (110-115°F) water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry (or instant) yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- softened butter or vegetable spray for greasing the bread pan
- In a small pot or microwave safe bowl, heat the milk and butter together on the stove top or in a microwave oven. When the butter melts, set the mixture aside and allow it to cool to 110-115°F. The mixture should feel warm (not hot!) to the touch.
- Meanwhile, in a quart-size glass measure, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. When the milk mixture has cooled sufficiently, add it and the eggs to the yeast mixture. Whisk briefly to combine.
- Tip 3 1/2 cups flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center of the flour, and then add the liquid ingredients. Stir vigorously, with a stout spoon until a thick, smooth batter develops. If the batter seem soupy rather than thick, go ahead and stir in the extra 1/2 cup of flour. Cover the bowl with cling film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume -- about 2 hours.
- Use a spoon or spatula to gently deflate the batter. Then pour the batter into a 9x5 loaf pan or a 13-inch pain de mie ("Pullman") pan. Cover loosely with lightly-greased cling film. If using a loaf pan, let the batter rise until it forms a crown approximately 1 inch above the rim of the pan (about 45 minutes at room temperature). If using a pullman pan, let rise just until the batter reaches 1/2 below the rim (about 45 minutes), and then slide the lid on. Halfway through rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake in the preheated 375°F until the bread is done -- usually 45 minutes. Unmold and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing.