Double Chocolate Buns

Small Cakes | 6th October 2011 | By

 When is a bun not a bun? Who knows, it all gets rather confusing. Some might call these American muffins, some cupcakes or maybe even fairy cakes. For me a bun is generally something sweet and yeasty, a cupcake is a sweet cake with some sort of icing, a muffin is a less sweet cake without the icing (unless it’s an English muffin and then it’s a type of yeasted bread roll) and a fairy cake is a more refined and probably smaller version of a cupcake; it seems these are often used interchangeably. Going by my definition, these buns are somewhere between a muffin and a cupcake: they have no icing, but are sweeter and smoother in texture than a muffin.

Now we’ve got that one cleared up, I want to say a big thank you to C of Cake, Crumbs and Cooking – do check out her baking blog if you haven’t already done so. Quite some time ago she had a giveaway for the Great British Bake Off: how to bake the perfect Victoria sponge. I was the lucky recipient of the book and it was waiting for me when I got back from holiday – nearly a month ago now. Along with many of you, I’ve been following the Great British Bake Off (via iPlayer) with great interest and enjoyment, so I was doubly pleased to get this book. As it happens the book only features one recipe from each of the contestants, but it does contain the technical challenges as well as a handful of really good step by step “how to make” items such as the perfect Victoria Sandwich. Most of the recipes come from Linda Collister, who wrote one of my favourite chocolate books Divine, but as far as I can see, have nothing to do with the programme. This book formed my bedtime reading in September and there are lots of recipes I want to try. However, with time being at a bit of a premium but wanting to make a start, I plumped for these quick and easy double chocolate buns.


These “buns” were smooth, not too sweet and all together quite delicious. They were moist, light and had a nice crunch of white chocolate. CT managed to sample a few (he always does) and thought they had a melt in the mouth texture and a treacley flavour but without the cloying quality that those sorts of cakes sometimes have. The book stated these were best eaten the same day, but they were just as good three days later.

How do you define buns, muffins etc?

Double Chocolate Buns
Yields 15
A light but moist cake with a smooth texture and crunchy bits of white chocolate that are quick to make and quite delicious.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 125g unsalted butter
  2. 125g of molasses sugar
  3. 2 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
  4. ½ tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade)
  5. 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
  6. 50g cocoa powder
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. 1 tsp bicarb of soda.
  9. 250ml mixture of crème fraîche and low fat Greek yogurt.
  10. 100g white chocolate - chopped
  11. a little icing sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Cream butter with sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat in eggs, one by one.
  3. Add vanilla extract and beat some more.
  4. Sift in dry ingredients and mix in alternately with crème fraîche and yogurt.
  5. Stir in 100g chopped white chocolate.
  6. Spoon into 15 muffin cases.
  7. Bake at 180℃ for 20 minutes.
  8. Place onto a rack to cool, then dust with icing sugar if desired.
  1. Can use all crème fraîche or all yogurt instead of a mixture of both.
Adapted from The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake by Linda Collister
Adapted from The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake by Linda Collister
Tin and Thyme


  1. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    I think of a bun as a sweet yeasted bread, a muffin is made by taking a dry ingredient mixture and adding a wet ingredient mixture to it, a cup cake is made from a creamed butter and sugar mixture with flour folded in. I have no position on fairy cakes!

    But your bun/muffin/cupcakes look absolutely sublime!

  2. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    Well, I’m with you regarding what constitutes a bun, cupcake, fairy cake, etc. I often make muffins when I need to make something quickly before the girls come home from school – these buns could be on the menu for tomorrow!

  3. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    I think I agree with you on the definitions, Choclette.

    These little cakes look good, whatever they are!

  4. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    When I think of a “bun” I think of the pastry cream buns, or hot cross buns. These look like muffins to me, but I’m no expert. I’d happily chomp away on them, whatever they are 😀

  5. Leave a Reply

    Karen S Booth
    6th October 2011

    You know I have strong feelings about this topic! LOL! Muffins to me are ONLY the yeast raised ones that are split open and slathered in butter, the ones Americans call English muffins! These look like BUNS to me and I love them! Buns that are yeast risen are called BREAD buns or by their name such as iced buns, Cornish splits, currant buns Sally Lunns etc!! What ever the name may be, these look divine!

  6. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    It doesn’t matter what they are called, they look yummy!
    I think a bun should have yeast, but I spent some of my childhood in Lincolnshire and fairy-buns and butterfly-buns were what we had at parties, (not fairycakes or butterfly cakes). So depends where you’re from, but what’s in a name, a chocolate bun is always sweet

  7. Leave a Reply

    Dom at Belleau Kitchen
    6th October 2011

    yeah, bun for me is always more bready but then those darn Americans have ‘biscuits’ which are essentially scones… who knows… the only truth is if they tasted good, which quite clearly they did!!

  8. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    Jennifer – Glad I’m not too far off then 😉 Do let me know what you think of them if you do make them.

    Suelle – thank you, it’s good to get confirmation and whatever these are, they are very good.

    Catherine – thank you. That’s what I thought buns were too.

    Karen – ha ha, it’s great to have some strong feelings. I do remember you having a rant on your blog about it. A bit of controversy gets things going 😉

    Oxslip – thank you. I did wonder if this might be a north south divide think.

    Dom – it’s all very confusing, but ultimately you’re right, what’s in a name.

  9. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    To me a bun is a northern (being a northerner transplanted to the south) fairy cake. A fairy cake is the same as a bun and a cup cake is an American fairy cake! But what’s in a name – these buns look so lovely and choclately!

  10. Leave a Reply

    A Trifle Rushed
    6th October 2011

    Ooooh! I just bought the book today, but ended up teaching so haven’t had time to try anything yet! One I know which recipe to bake first!
    I think a bun is a plain little cake, a fairy cake is the same but with icing, glacé or butter and some sprinkles (100s and 1000s no less) on it. A cup cake is larger, brasher and often over decorated!

  11. Leave a Reply

    6th October 2011

    I think of a bun as something heartier – yeasted dough not baked in a case, while muffins are slightly more moist and dense and cupcakes/fairy cakes are a little lighter. But who cares really? When something looks as yummy as this you can call it what you like!

  12. Leave a Reply

    Baking Addict
    6th October 2011

    I am impressed they lasted 3 days. I’m with you on the definitions. Would you recommend the book then? I’ve had it on my amazon wishlist for ages.

  13. Leave a Reply

    Working london mummy
    6th October 2011

    they look lovely. Interesting discussion, it does seem to vary from region to region what things are called. Still these look yummy and very chocolatey rich!

  14. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    7th October 2011

    good question – buns for me are small and yeasted but whenever we have plain cupcakes, E always calls them buns which confuses all my family – so maybe it is different in Scotland

  15. Leave a Reply

    7th October 2011

    I like the word “bun” for little cakes as it sounds so British to me, and if they have a different texture to a muffin then it’s fine by me!
    These chocolatey buns are gorgeous!

  16. Leave a Reply

    8th October 2011

    MCB – thanks, I think regional is the key to this. Actually I’m pretty sure they are called buns here in Cornwall too.

    A Trifle Rushed – ha ha, you have strong opinions about cupcake decorations, I like it. Hope you are enjoying the book.

    LittleLoaf – thank you. It is quite useful to know that we are all talking about the same thing, but ultimately you are right of course.

    Baking Addict – hard to say about the book as it depends what you are looking for. I was enjoying it, but I’ve now bought Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet which I think is brilliant.

    WLM – to make the grade, chocolatey rich is a bit of a must really 😉

    Johanna – I think this discussion has revealed that the naming of buns is indeed a regional thing. I’ve learnt something anyway.

    Laura – thank you. Yes little is another good definition – so many to choose from 😉

    Gloria – thank you.

    Chele – as a white chocolate fan, you’d love these.

  17. Leave a Reply

    8th October 2011

    Thank you so much for the lovely link! I’m really glad to hear that you’re enjoying the book so much – so am I! These look like a great way to dip your toe into the book too!

    I would say a muffin is something made by mixing wet and dry ingredients, a cupcake is a creamed mixture, generally larger than a fairy cake, which I consider to be made in a bun tin, rather than a muffin tin, in terms of size and decorated with buttercream or coloured icing. A butterfly cake is a fairy cake with buttercream and wings, and a bun is a fairy cake with a plain water icing, perhaps decorated with smarties or a piece of Cadbury’s flake, or a cherry. A bread bun is what it says, and not a sweet item – usually used for sandwiches.

    Apparently all of these terms mean something very specific for me!!!

  18. Leave a Reply

    8th October 2011

    I just have to say I’ve never used duck eggs for baking! Have you? Do u think it makes a difference with the result? Lovely buns too! X

  19. Leave a Reply

    Mozart's Girl
    10th October 2011

    Just found your lovely blog – how did I miss this?? Thanks so much for all your comments on mine, too. What a subject. I would have once interchanged the words ‘bun’ & ‘fairy cake’…muffins (except for the english pullapart & toast kind) didn’t exist when I was a child (I’m only very nearly 45 btw, not ancient!) Nowadays, I would agree with you – my husband will often say he picked up a bun at the coffeeshop – he means something yeasted & iced, probably a danish pastry, chelsea bun or similar. That would be my thought too…a roll is the same, but savoury! Muffins, now, are the huge craggy multi-flavoured sweet American creations with a mushrooming top – really a breakfast/brunch/morning food. Cupcakes are equal or more quantities of swirled uber-sweet frosting than cake. It’s all about the decoration. All about. No one really cares about the cake beneath, despite what they may say…it’s the sprinkles, the sparkles, the sugar flowers, the artfully crafted miniature recreation of the Titanic (or whatever!) Fairy cakes are the British children’s birthday party equivalent. Smaller.Shallower. Often iced with glace icing and decorated with silver balls.The one that most of us born here remember…and they, sadly, look a little pathetic now beside the towering pastel ice-cream swirls of their American usurpers…but I secretly still love them! I can’t sell them, though…people would look at them and label them ‘cupcakes that went wrong’!! Happy Monday xx

  20. Leave a Reply

    Lady Chutney
    10th October 2011

    My copy of the British Bake Off book arrived this morning. I have had a quick flick through and was a little disappointed there weren’t more recipes from the show but I am going to have a cup of tea and read it now. I feel I ought to have one of your lovely buns with me while I do it.

  21. Leave a Reply

    Jill @ MadAboutMacarons
    15th October 2011

    loved your definitions and yes, I’ve always been confused between fairy cakes and cupcakes, although I’d say that cupcakes have far more dressings on top – so much that at times, it’s about as much as the cake underneath! The rest are the bald versions.

    These buns look delicious and ideal if not too sweet. Now, if we add something wet to it like banana or orange, does that make them muffins? 😉

    Great post.

  22. Leave a Reply

    16th October 2011

    Mozart’s Girl – thank you for your very kind comment. Have really been enjoying hearing what people have to say about this subject and there are some very strong views.

    Lady Chutney – yes, it would have been nice if they’d featured all of the recipes. Have you made anything from it yet?

    Jill – ha ha – shall remember your definition now – anything with no icing is a bald fairy cake 😉

  23. Leave a Reply

    27th October 2011

    At the end of the day, if it’s delicious, why debate? 🙂 If it’s good, eat it! And, these look GOOD! I am a muffin, cupcake, or bun gal! I love them all. I have this fave place in NY for cupcakes though. I love it. I must try these though.

  24. Leave a Reply

    29th January 2015

    Hello Choclette,

    I just made your buns and they turned out extremely light and very, very good. The only thing about them is that they lacked a bit of sugar. I know you described them in your post as not overly sweet, and that was one of their attractions to me, as I don’t like things with too much sugar. But even to my taste it really missed a little bit of sweetness.
    As I can’t find mollasses sugar around here I used the same amount of muscovado instead. Do you think that it can be a good replacement product, or would you suggest something else?

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette Blogger
      31st January 2015

      Thanks for trying them out and sorry you didn’t find them quite sweet enough for you. You can always increase the sugar if you prefer it sweeter and soft brown sugar either light or dark is fine.

  25. Leave a Reply

    21st June 2015

    Hello Choclette,

    I made the comment just above, and since then I made your buns several times, only adding a little bit more of sugar. And they really are the chocolate cakes that I enjoyed the most in a very, very long time. So I just wanted to thank you again for sharing this recipe with us, and for all the recipes you bring to us in your blog.

    • Leave a Reply

      22nd June 2015

      Thank you for your kind words Marie, they are very much appreciated. I’m glad adding a bit more sugar made the difference for you. I think it’s time I made these buns again to remind myself what they were like.

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