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Catholic Recipe: English Pope Ladies


  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • currants or dark raisins
  •  Glaze
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Details

  • Yield: 12 buns
  • Prep Time: N/A
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin: England

Much of the charm of these buns comes from their ladylike shape. They are said to be named after the mythical Pope Joan (around 858 A.D.). Pope Ladies are a traditional New Year's treat in England.


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes. Heat milk, butter, sugar, and salt to warm (105-115 degrees).

2. Combine 2 cups flour, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and 1 egg in bowl. Mix thoroughly.

3. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth - about 10 minutes.

4. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place until double - about 1 hour.

5. Punch down dough. Divide into 12 equal balls about 2 1/2 inches across. Cut each ball in half. Flatten one of the halves and shape into an oval for the body. Divide the other half of dough in two; make a round ball for head. With remaining dough make pencillike ropes 4 inches long. Cut in half for 2 arms. Press head and arms to body. (There are no legs.) Press raisins or currants deeply in place for the eyes and nose. See drawing.

6. Let rise in warm place until double - about 30 minutes. Make glaze and brush on buns.

7. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven about 15-20 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe Source: Festive Bread Book, The by Kathy Cutler, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1982
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