Cottage Museum Good Friday Buns featured in The Target 19th March 14

An understated but delicious local historic recipe for Easter from The Cottage Museum in Woodhall Spa.

Good Friday Buns, an Authentic Taste of Local History from the Cottage Museum, Woodhall Spa.

This month’s recipe is from the archive of The Cottage Museum in Woodhall Spa. I was kindly invited by Patricia Duke-Cox, a member of the hard working team of volunteers at the Museum, to come along and research their archive of Cookery Books and associated ephemera. Well I accepted the invitation eagerly; it really doesn’t get any better for me than the opportunity to look through wonderful old cookery books, recipes and menus. I am very interested in traditional regional cooking and especially Lincolnshire recipes and I feel it is immensely important to preserve not only the recipes, but also the methods of cooking them and equally the family and social history that goes with it.

There were some terrific old menus, my favourite is the one for a Complimentary Dinner given in honour of Lieut. Colonel Sir Archibald G. Weigall on his Appointment as Governor of South Australia. The dinner was hosted at The Bull Hotel in Horncastle on April 6th 1920.

I also found in the archive a Souvenir Programme for Horncastle, Woodhall Spa and Rural District War Weapons Week – For King and Empire dated April 1941. This event was in aid of the War Savings Campaign. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers this taking place.  It appears from the programme to have engaged many members of the community and I should think it was an enormous morale booster. There was a special day for the Royal Air Force, the Army, Ladies and Tradesman, Civil Defence, Farmer’s, Schools and finally the Royal Navy.

The Cottage Museum has been established for over 25 years and is independently run by volunteers. It can be found on Iddesleigh Road , in a rare Victorian Corrugated Iron Bungalow. They have a new Community Archive which is available for anyone who wishes to do any research and they have over 6000 photographic images. You would just need to email them on  or call to arrange an appointment. In addition to their permanent and temporary exhibitions, this year will see a new initiative named the “Combined Wartime Woodhall Committee and Cottage Museum partnership.” This project is asking the community for their memories, knowledge, letters, medals and memorabilia of Woodhall’s fallen 1914-45.

With all the material received an exhibition will be created and open to the public from July 1st until October 2014. If you would like to get involved they would be delighted to hear from you. They open from this Good Friday the 18th April  and then every day until October and Saturdays and Sundays in November. A lot of hard work and dedication is put into running this gem of a museum by committed volunteers and it is vital for people to visit and support them to preserve this treasure trove of local history and learning resources, so please go along for an enjoyable day out.

Along with the menus and old cookery books, was a collection of memories, historical information and recipes from a kind museum donor with family connections to Woodhall Spa. There is a reference to the Monument of The Duke of Wellington which can be found on Waterloo Road which runs down the side of the grounds of The Petwood Hotel, off Stixwould Road. It was erected in commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo by Colonel B Elmhirst of West Ashby Manor. He also arranged for acorns to be planted near to the monument in 1815, in the year of the battle. They have since grown into fine oak trees. It is said that the bust of Wellington had to face in the direction of West Ashby where his roots lay.

The following recipe from the same donor is for Good Friday Buns. These are similar to Hot Cross Buns, but there is no mention in this recipe of putting the symbolic cross on top. I believe it is only right to follow the original recipe as it was intended and there is something very simple and understated about these Good Friday Buns, but equally delicious.

Cottage Musuem Good Friday Buns

(I have preserved the style of the recipe, but given some extra help and advice at the end)
Put 1/4lb of Butter into 2lb of flour and a pinch of salt
Mix one wineglass of thick fresh yeast with 1 ½ pints of warm milk.
Mix with flour ‘til it forms a light batter
Stand in warm place to rise.
When risen work in ½lb Sugar, 1/2 lb Currants, half a grated nutmeg and ½ oz powdered mace.
Knead these well into the dough.
Make into buns
Bake for 15 - 20mins.

Like many old recipes there are not many instructions, such as oven temperatures and a wineglass of thick fresh yeast might be a bit tricky these days.

I would use strong, white bread flour, sieve it with the salt and then rub the butter in.

If you manage to get hold of any fresh yeast about 30g should do it. Then I what I do is put my yeast crumbled up in a bowl, then put my milk in a pan and heat the milk to just blood temperature, put your finger in to test and it should feel only very slightly warm, if it’s too hot let it cool down a bit. When it is the correct temperature pour it on to your fresh yeast, add a pinch of sugar to get it going, whisk it with a balloon whisk, cling film and leave it for ten minutes to start bubbling and “waking” up. If you put your milk on too hot it will kill the yeast.

Once you have mixed your yeast and flour, cover your bowl with either greased cling film or a damp cloth and leave it to rise. If you use dried yeast in a sachet, use two 7g sachets. Mix your flour and salt together, then rub in the butter, make a little well in the middle, put in your dried yeast and then pour in the just warm milk and mix all together. You don’t need to premix your yeast with the milk beforehand, so it cuts out a process.

When your dough has risen and you have worked in your fruit and spices and lightly kneaded together, divide the dough into buns, put them on a greased and lined baking trays, cover with greased clingfilm and leave to prove for about another half hour or so until they have risen up again.

I leave a gap of about a half inch when putting them on my baking tray and they should be touching when they have “proved” sufficiently. I do this as once they have baked they will be all joined together in a proper batch.
Pre heat your oven if it is fan to 220c to begin with.  Take off the clingfilm and bake for five minutes to kill of the yeast and get them rising well, then turn down to 180c and bake for another 10mins. Every oven is different so you need to keep a close eye on them. With fruit and sugar having been added they can burn really easily. They should be a nice golden brown colour and when you tap the bottom they should sound hollow. When you are happy that they are baked get them out of the oven and cool on cooling racks.  Enjoy with a bit of butter on.

Perhaps this recipe will become one of your family’s traditional Easter dishes.  By baking this old recipe for Good Friday you will be connecting in a real way with our local food history.

If you would like to contact The Cottage Museum in Woodhall Spa please don’t hesitate to do so on 01526 353775 or for more information please visit

Sadie Hirst is an award winning baker and member of the British Society of Baking. With her Husband Russell they a have a multi award winning butchers shop in Woodhall Spa. She is a keen collector of cookery books and is especially interested in historic local recipes and regional specialities. For all of Sadie’s previous recipes please visit



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