Lassy Buns (Molasses Buns for those not acquainted with the vernacular of Newfoundland) are one of those treats your grandmother gave you when you went to her house after school. Well, the grandmothers of yesteryear did. Don's mother usually had a good supply of these distinctly molasses-flavoured buns on hand at any given time and the boys (little and big) always enjoyed eating them when we went to Nan's. She would often send up half a dozen or so when she baked and not only did the boys go for them, so did I. My mother never made these sweet molasses buns and they were new to me when I was first married.
Lassy Buns can be found throughout the Atlantic provinces but we Newfoundlanders are sure they belong to us. For years molasses from the West Indies was traded for Newfoundland codfish and became a kitchen staple in every home. During my grandmother's time, molasses was used to sweeten tea, breads, cookies, puddings and buns. It was used as a spread on bread, as a sauce for puddings, and as a syrup over pancakes and toutons (fried bread dough). Many traditional Newfoundland recipes trace their roots back to molasses as a main ingredient.
Molasses Buns can still be found in almost any good bakery and in grocery stores that carry locally baked items. Lassy buns can be made plain or with raisins, with or without spices. I like them any way they are made, though I don't ever recall Nan Gill making them with raisins.
I've asked Nan several times for the recipe for her Lassy Buns but she tells me she hasn't made them in such a long time she can't remember how she put them together. I should have gotten the recipe years ago. Here's my recipe, and although they are good, anyone in the family eating them will tell you they're not Nan Gill's buns. I sent a few down to her a couple of months ago and wondered how she liked them. She told me they were too dark and strong. I was a bit taken back at that statement as she likes the store-bought buns which are as big and dark and heavy as a hockey puck. But she did manage to eat every one of the buns and a few weeks later she commented on how good they were. It's true, mine are darker than hers and I've included the spices which I don't think Nan used. Anyway, you'll find as much variety in a Lassy Bun as there are in the people who make them.
These buns are sweet and spicy and full of molasses--almost a hybrid of a cookie and a biscuit. They can also contain raisins for a Lassy Raisin Bun. I've not added the raisins in these as I like them plain. They're good just as they are or can take a pat of butter or a spoonful of jam. Don eats them like a cookie but I like them buttered. (We're like Jack Sprat and his wife.) They're great in a lunch box or make a great snack with a tall glass of milk or a cup of tea. (I just ate two for my breakfast.)
3 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
¼ teaspoon cloves, optional
½ cup molasses
½ cup butter
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients together, mixing well. Lay aside.
In a small microwave-proof bowl, combine molasses, butter and milk. Microwave 40 seconds or until butter is starting to melt. Stir until everything is combined. The mixture should not be hot. If it is let cool. Add egg and vanilla and beat together until combined.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the molasses mixture. Gently mix until everything is combined in a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and gently knead 3 or 4 times to bring the dough together. Pat dough out into a rectangle or circle about an inch high. Using a well floured biscuit cutter cut out the buns and lay on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. You may have the buns touching for soft sides or leave a little space between for crusty sides.
Bake 12-15 minutes.
Makes about 20 small buns or 15 medium.
½ cup of raisins may be added to the batter for Lassy Raisin Buns.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Combine well. Set aside.
Heat butter, molasses and milk together just long enough to start melting the butter. Mix with egg and vanilla.
I like to place the buns close together. They will rise and fill in the pan while baking.
Mmmmm....first bun out.
A little butter or jam tops off the bun. I like a bit of butter.
Store Lassy Buns in an airtight container.
Lassy Buns waiting for a cold glass of milk or cup of tea.