Sally Lunn—a buttery, plate-size brioche bun served split, toasted, and crowned with cinnamon butter, lemon curd, or welsh rarebit (among other toppings)—has been a delectable staple in the ancient English town of Bath for centuries. Stories of the bun’s origin abound. One version states that it was created in Paris sometime before 1845, and that its name derives from _soleil et lune _(”sun”, for the bun’s golden top; ‘moon’, for its pale underside). In Bath, however, they say that in the 1680s a young French Huguenot refugee named Soli Luyon came to town and went to work in a local bakery, introducing Bath to the brioche-type breads of her native land.
Three centuries later, in 1995, a local chef named Julian Abraham bought the old bakery—along with Soli Luyon’s supposed original recipe. With business partner Jonathan Overton, Abraham has since turned the place into Sally Lunn’s Refreshment House and Museum, one of the quaintest restaurants in England (which is saying something) and the only museum in the world (we think) dedicated to a bun. The waitresses wear copies of Sally’s Georgian frock and gaily toss out bits of bun history. They”ll also show you the cellar museum, where you can see what was (perhaps) Sally’s kitchen.
Two years ago the partners opened another restaurant in Windsor and relocated the bakery to larger premises on the outskirts of Bath. There, master baker Robin Bryant produces some seventy thousand golden buns a year, using the same ingredients listed in that old recipe.