Pan Buns for Fifty!


I awoke last night to the sound of rain pummeling the roof. It was a welcome sound as we south shore Nova Scotians in Shelburne County have been experiencing drought conditions recently. It’s still raining, mid-morning as I write. Some folks in town have been without water since the end of June. Glenn and I are lucky to still have water in our well, but it is getting low.

We’ve been invited out for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner this evening and my plans to make a large Grilled Veggie Salad have been foiled by current weather conditions.  It’s most definitely not a day for firing up the BBQ. So I’ve been thumbing through my ragged old notebook (filled with recipes and clippings collected over time) trying to decide what to make for Georg and Harry’s gathering.

I’ve finally decided on a recipe given to me at least 25 years ago by a dear friend from my Yukon days, Heather Alton. Perhaps this recipe, Buns for Fifty, was passed along from grandmother, to mom, to daughter … or; maybe it originally came out of an old, self-published church cookbook. It kind of has that feel to it.


  • 6 C lukewarm water
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 T baking yeast
  • ½ C white sugar
  • 1 C softened butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 C unbleached white flour
  • 4 – 6 additional cups of unbleached white flour


  1. Dissolve 1 T of sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes until the yeast gets soft and bubbly.
  2. Combine the soft butter and ½ C of white sugar and beat, using a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to beat using the mixer on a low setting. Pour in the yeast/water mixture and add 6 cups of flour, one cup at a time, while continuing to mix.
  3. Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time mixing by hand until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with flour and knead for 15 – 20 minutes, adding flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil a large bread bowl and place the dough inside the bowl, rolling it around until it is lightly coated with the oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a warm draft-free place to rise, until double in bulk (about 1 ½ hrs). I place my bread bowl in the oven with the internal oven light turned on. The heat from the light bulb makes the oven a perfect warm and draft-free spot for rising bread dough.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a rope about 3 inches thick. Cut each rope into 10 equal sized chunks and form these chunks of dough into round, bun shaped balls. Line cookie pans or round cake pans with parchment paper and place dough balls on the pans so they are close but not touching. Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter and let rise for 25 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the buns on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top.

Yield: 60 dinner sized pan buns