Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Bun Answer Bonanza

I hope to conclude this bunny rabbit this evening. I wonder what the last word on buns will be…

First of all let me clarify my quibble. This is not a search for the generic bun as such. This is a middle aged woman having a crisis over global semantic changes that have messed with my head.

An example: I go shopping for a toy for a wee boy. I think to myself, “I think I will buy that truck.” I reach out for one and then I suddenly find myself reaching over a chasm where all the lorries have fallen, twisting, turning, ricocheting from one rocky ledge to another, finally bursting into flames so far down I can hardly see them. Lorries are now trucks. There are only trucks. There are no lorries.

OK, so it is not the same with buns. There are buns. But they are not the buns of the ideolect of my youth. The buns that there are are bready spiced or iced bakes that are not what buns used to be when I reached out to eat one in the mid 1980s.

The invasion of the cupcake has been insidious and profound. OK, so other people perhaps would never have called them buns. But, I am willing to suggest that it is not until the last five to ten years that they would have called them cupcakes as a matter of course. Until then, cupcakes were something Americans bought and ate in movies (or should I say films?… before all those melt into a puddle of celluloid). They may have called them fairy cakes, cakes or wee cakes.

Then there were muffins, but we could tell the difference. And even before them were cookies – but they fell tidily into a subset of biscuits. But cupcakes? No. They were not satisfied with lining up next to the buns and fairy cakes. They had to add an inch of icing to everything and subsume their titles so that one day I find myself, without a hint of irony or subliminal intertextual reference saying “Pass me a cupcake” and then thinking… if this had been five years ago, what would I have said? “Let them eat cake?”

So, it is my ideolect that is in crisis. Not the buns/cakes/baked goods in general.

I quizzed the source of my ideolect (the parents) and the concensus there was that a bun is a bun until you ice it. If you put a wee bit of icing on it, it turns into a fairy cake. Sprinkles/gems all fine. If you put a lot of thick icing on it, it is a cupcake. A cupcake is essentially a bun. A naked cupcake is a bun. To us. Phew.

So I went on a research trip to Morrisons, to see what the retailers are selling as buns these days.

Interestingly, one of my uses of “bun” is for a burger bun. Which I do say, but always in the full knowledge that I am using an americanism. I mean a roll. But sometimes I’ll have a burger in a bun, in the same way I’ll have a tortilla with my fajitas, in the same way I’ll have a baguette with my brie. But today, burger buns were on sale as “sliced white rolls”. Yay! Not a bun in sight on the bread aisle.

So, I came across what I don’t think a bun is, but clearly it is:

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And then the traditional hot cross bun. I have to concede: that must be a bun. I don’t really like them. Maybe that’s why I disregaed such things in my subconscious generic definitons.

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Into the cake aisle, and things picked up for me. What a relief to find actual buns who would blend in with the buns of my mind.

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But when it came to my actual generic buns – it turns out they were fairy cakes.

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But … if you slice the top off, add icing and make wings… they turn back into buns!


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I bought the butterfly buns and will be sampling one later on. So, feeling buoyed up with having located some real life buns, still for sale in the 21st century, I was caught up short when I hit the baking aisle:


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And the bun kits? Sadly absent.

I have seen the future, and it is covered in thick icing.


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4 thoughts on “Bun Answer Bonanza

  1. Alison on said:

    I love it! Great reads – all these bun discussions… That loaf is just fancy bread (buin loaf – yeah right!)… I always thought your ‘generic buns’ were just plain cakes and a butterfly cake was one you cut the top off to make wings… I never thought of a naked cupcake as a bun but I like that definition and will never again look at a cupcake the same way!
    Interstingly, when I was a child, bun wasn’t a word we ever really used – it was just cake or cake.
    I guess, as you I think mentioned somewhere, that we all call things different names. Loving your work, Mrs!

    • I think we were in the minority with the bun thing – as a generic term. But at least someone who works in the Morrison’s labelling department shares my definition.

  2. I feel your pain. The American invasion with their obnoxious cupcakes and such when all you want is to celebrate your simple bun.

    • And I have. I have eaten two butterfly buns, as depicted above.
      With a cup of tea.
      Time to generate a new mini-series. I’ve had enough fun bun puns.
      And rhymes.

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