December 13, 2012

Holiday Cheer - Sally Lunn Bread

By Beth Trissel
Thanks for having me on your blog, Anna Kathryn.
If you enjoy food that connects you with history, Sally Lunn bread is an old Southern Recipe I’ve eaten in the Shenandoah Valley that dates back even farther to England.  From an interesting site called Who Cooked that Up, JJ Wonders says, “Sally Lunn is one of those recipes that’s so old it can be called a "receipt," the name given to instructions in cookery up until several generations ago. The way to prepare and serve it, however, is as varied as the stories about why it is called "Sally Lunn." JJ includes more history and recipes and one of them is from Virginia. Apparently there’s an old house in Bath, England where Sally Lunn may have lived, so check out her site.
From Brooklyn Farmhouse: “Sally Lunn is a sort of white bread, sort of brioche-y, sort of savory, and sort of sweet. It apparently dates from the 1680s. It’s a bit of an oddity, really. Hard to classify. But so delicious. It’s a really easy yeast bread to make and only requires one rise, right in the pan.” More info and recipes are also on this site.
As to the wide variation in Sally Lunn recipes, I noted that with the two listed in the 1950’s publication of Charleston Receipts, a cookbook from Charleston, South Carolina.  And it seems the best way to prepare this historic bread is anyone’s guess. In my ghostly Christmas romance novella, Somewhere  is the Bells Ring, set in the old Virginia home place in the valley, the outspoken housekeeper is making her Sally Lunn.  Maybe it was similar to the recipe below, one of the simpler ones I found.

Mother’s Sally Lunn from Charleston Receipts (submitted by Miss Ida Ravenel):

Mix together: 2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt (set aside)
Add ½ cup sugar to two beaten egg yolks.  Blend dry ingredients alternately with ¾ cup of milk into egg and sugar mixture, then add 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in.  Bake in well greased oblong or square pan, or muffun tins.  For the loaf allow 40 minutes in moderate oven (350).
Now that I’ve learned I’m extremely gluten intolerant, I would substitute Jules gluten free flour, or some other variation of gluten free flour, which adapts well to this sort of recipe.

Blurb for Somewhere the Bells Ring:
Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn’t so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope—until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe—in Bailey and the ghost—before the Christmas bells ring?

For the month of December, Somewhere My Love is available at a bargain basement price in Kindle, Nookbook, and from other online booksellers.

A bit about Beth: Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles.

For more on me, my blog is the happening place:

Happy Christmas and God Bless us everyone


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Beth. Thanks for being here today. I had never heard of Sally Lunn Bread until I was in England and was told I had to buy some, which my daughter and I did. It was really good.

Emma said...

Hi Beth, I have been to Sally Lunn's in Bath! It's an amazing venue - now a museum as well as a being a lovely tea room and restaurant. It's a really really old house - you can see the original roman house down in the basement rooms. It was built on over the centuries (Bath is an amazing place as there is a whole roman town under all the buildings!) . I think there are 7 different floors added on top by following generations, Benedictine monks, and of course Sally Lunn's famous kitchen! They have the original recipes that were found hidden in a secret panel when the building was restored in the early 1900's. A Sally Lunn is actually a large BUN/bread roll rather than a loaf - and they serve you up a whole one split as a sandwich or toasted and hot with sweetened flavoured butters (I Love the cinammon butter). They are basically a form of french brioche - and the reason for that is that Sally Lunn was a french refugee - a Hugenot - called Solange Luyon (we Brits were never that good at coping with French and it got adapted to something we recognised). She escaped persecution from France and came to the UK and got work with a baker in Bath where she shared her recipe for brioche that became a big hit in the UK - even Charles Dickens mentions them in Victorian times! They will sell you one in a cute little box to take home. Delicieux! Now I want to jump on the train and go have one today (we live about 45 minutes from Bath by rail). Bath is an amazing place - so much history and beautiful buildings, defo worth a visit if you ever come to England (the roman baths are fantastic and they have now opened a modern public spa where you swim in a roof-top open pool that is fed with the natural hot spring waters. Here are a couple of links (I sound like the Bath tourist board!!!),intro.htm and

Thanks for reminding me about the good stuff in life! Emma x

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Emma. Thanks for the history. Yep, it was in a box that my daughter and I got it while on a trip to England and France. I think we got ours in Windsor.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Beth, thanks for clarifying what Sally Lunn is. The recipe sounds as if it might taste delicious.

Gerri Bowen said...

Thank you for suggesting a gluten free replacement for the wheat, Beth!

Sandy L. Rowland said...

I love Sally Lunn bread. This version is a bit different from the one I make, but it looks good.
Ah, to go to England and taste the real thing. I can dream.
Fun post. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I love Sally Lunn bread as well. I didn't see it at all when I lived in England, but was introduced to it in Williamsburg, VA. My recipe comes from their cookbook.

Beth Trissel said...

Hello guys :))) Had a crazy day and forgot I was here. Funny thing is I saw a notice on the loop that someone had a post on Sally Lunn bread and thought, 'Weird. I have one of those too. What are the odds?"

Beth Trissel said...

I'm pleased to be here and glad you all are excited about the recipe. Caroline Clemmons introduced me to the gluten free Jules flour and it's great.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

LOL, Beth. Yes, I realized too late that I hadn't mentioned who was blogging. Sorry about that! When I posted it on some other loops, I did add your name.

Beth Trissel said...

:) It all worked out, and it's a busy time of year. Thanks for having me.

Anonymous said...

Can't make the trip to England so I will have to try the bread here.Thanks for the idea it will be a great project for my family.Thanks for the great stories also.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Never had Sally Lunn Bread.
Thanks for the recipe and interesting post!!

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