Iced Finger Buns

Published by Amy

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Super simple in concept but super delicious in taste. Iced Finger Buns are sweet yeast buns, topped with sticky icing. A real British classic!

Iced Finger Buns recipe from Baking with Granny. Sweet yeast buns, topped with deliciously sweet, sticky icing.
Iced Finger Buns from Baking with Granny. Traditional UK recipe for easy buns, topped with sweet, simple icing. A British classic.

There’s some bakes that are almost too simple to work but somehow they do. And not only that, they are somewhat iconic. Iced Finger Buns are certainly one of those bakes.

A classic sweet dough, topped with a layer of icing; talk about the simple pleasures in life! But when it comes to the perfect mix of sweet and carbs, Iced Finger Buns have it nailed.

Always my first choice of treat from a bakery, it seemed fitting that I’d give baking them a go. Plus the kids love them too, so I knew they’d be a big hit with our entire household.

My personal favourite way to finish a Finger Bun is by dipping the just-iced buns in some desiccated coconut. The kids however love anything with a coloured icing (pink or yellow are the classics for iced buns) or with some sprinkles attached.

And if you want to go all out glutton, slice the bun in half and fill with some freshly whipped cream! Suddenly a simple unassuming bun becomes the bake of your sugar-coated dreams.

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that I’ve used the same sweet dough that is in one of our most popular recipes; Cinnamon Buns. It is sweeter than your standard yeast dough but whoever said this was a health food?

These Iced Finger Buns do take a bit of time to prepare, purely due to the rise times…but don’t let that put you off! They really are minimal effort, with maximum gain, with only the pain of waiting through in-between stages holding you back. And even then, that’s surely the perfect excuse to have a cuppa and maybe make a tray bake (or two) while you wait?

"First time I’ve made iced buns and definitely chose the right recipe to do. Easy to make and are delicious! Definitely be baking more... Thank you!"
Faye
Close up of an Iced Finger Bun. Soft doughy bun, topped with sticky pink icing.

Ingredients:

Milk
Whatever milk you have to hand will work fine – I’ve had good success with dairy & soya. But if you are buying some just for this recipe, definitely opt for full fat. Lets not be doing things by halves!

Butter or Margarine
Either will do and it’s personal preference to which you choose. I opt for margarine as a way to omit the dairy but just be sure to use a block margarine if you decide to use margarine too – the spreadable kind has a higher water content and will make your dough less predictable to work with.

Plain Flour and Strong White Flour
The best of both worlds in this dough! Plain flour is a nice light flour which lends itself well to the texture of these Iced Finger Buns. But the combination of strong white flour & it’s additional gluten helps to maintain the real doughy consistency.

Caster Sugar
The dough is definitely on the sweeter side and that is thanks to the sugar. You could change to Golden Caster Sugar for a more caramel-y taste, should you desire.

Easy Yeast
There’s a few options out there for yeast but easy is by far, well, the easiest! Plus it’s packaged in perfect amounts.

Free-range Eggs
These will help your dough bind together and the yolks will give the dough that lovely golden colour. I don’t tend to stress to much about the size of eggs, as long as they’re free-range.

Icing Sugar
Without this, we’d just have some plain, sad looking buns. Add some colour, top with sprinkles…whatever your heart (and sweet tooth!) desires.

Iced Finger Buns, traditional British cake. Made with a sweet yeast dough, topped with easy water icing.

Granny's Top Tips

• For uniform sized buns: Weigh your dough after it’s first rise, before dividing that number by 12. Then simple weigh out each bun as you come to shape them.

• I recommend using a metal baking/roasting tin for this UK recipe for Iced Finger Buns. Having experimented with different types of trays, tins and dishes, I find a metal tin to be the best for an even bake. This Masterclass one is my favourite and what you see in the photos.
It is of course possible to use a ceramic dish, however you may need to adjust your oven temperature and baking time to ensure the buns in the middle are baked through.

• This recipe for Iced Finger Buns make buns that are a generous size. If you prefer your buns to be smaller, simply divide the dough into 18, or even 24 buns.

• For extra indulgent buns, why not slice them in half and filling with jam & cream? Or top the icing with some desiccated coconut, or rainbow sprinkles?

UK recipe for Iced Finger Buns, traditional British cake, found in bakeries across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Iced Finger Buns from Baking with Granny. Sweet bread finger rolls, topped with sticky icing.
Iced Finger Buns recipe from Baking with Granny. Sweet yeast buns, topped with deliciously sweet, sticky icing.

Iced Finger Buns

5 from 15 votes
PRINT RECIPE
Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 buns

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small pan, warm the milk & butter/margarine until it's lukewarm (not hot!) and the butter/margarine is melting.
  • Meanwhile, sift the flours into a large bowl. Gently mix the sugar and yeast through to combine. Add the milk mixture and stir in a little, before adding the eggs too. Mix until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
  • Transfer the dough to well-floured surface, and using well-floured hands, knead the dough for around 10 minutes.
  • Place the dough into a oiled bowl (to prevent it from sticking) and cover with an oiled piece of cling film, or a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a draught-free location for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  • Lightly grease a large baking/roasting tin (I use a 35cm x 24cm one) and dust it with a little flour. Set aside.
  • After your dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back. Divide your dough into 12 even-sized balls, before rolling each between your hands to create a sausage shape. Place the sausage-shaped buns into your prepared tin, in two rows of 6, with a little space between each (they need room to grow!). Cover loosely with lightly greased cling film or a damp tea towel.
  • Leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until they look light and puffy.
  • Once the buns have completed their second rise, bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180°c (160° for a fan assisted oven or Gas Mark 4) for 15-20 minutes until golden in colour and have a hollow-like sound when gently tapped on top.
  • Allow the buns to cool in their tin before icing. To ice the buns, mix 200g of icing sugar with a little cool water (start with a teaspoon of water and gradually add more as needed - it's easy to add more water but not easy to correct too much). Add a little pink food colouring if you wish. You want a thick gloopy texture if you intend to spread the icing, or a slightly thinner consistency if you intend to pour the icing or dip the buns.

Notes

For full ingredient explanations and substitutions, please see the Ingredients information above.
See more tips for success in Granny's Top Tips above.
Tried this recipe?Tag @bakingwithgranny or use the hashtag #bakingwithgranny!
Iced Finger Buns recipe from Baking with Granny. Sweet yeast dough, topped with icing.
Iced Finger Buns recipe from Baking with Granny. Sweet yeast dough, topped with icing.

Originally published in January 2020. Updated in September 2023.

38 Responses

    1. Hi Kathy.
      We are based in the UK and so our recipes follow the metric system which is used here. If you Google a “recipe converter” you should be able to change the ingredients to your preferred values.

    1. 5 stars
      Yes it can, I make all mine in a kitchen air, do dry ingredients first but only half the sugar, then add the butter and the eggs and finally the warm milk with the other half of the sugar and instant yeast, ive tried multiple recipes and this one is half way thru it’s first proofing, xx

    2. 5 stars
      Love this recipe. They taste amazing.

      Only trouble I have is when they rise they don’t hold the finger bun shape. Does anyone have any ideas?

  1. Hello, I’ve only got fresh yeast at the moment. Will that work for these buns and if so, how do I adapt the recipe? Thanks

    1. Normally 3 x the amount of instant yeast = fresh yeast (14 x 3 = 42g). I haven’t tried but don’t see why it wouldn’t be OK?

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely fantastic! It’s my first ever baking iced buns and I have chosen the perfect recipe. The result is awesome, it inspire me to bake more. Thank you so much xx

  3. 5 stars
    First time I’ve made iced buns and definitely chose the right recipe to do. Easy to make and are delicious! Definitely be baking more…. thank you! :)

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely perfect Iced buns Best recipe I have used and will only use from now on. I sliced them open and added strawberry jam, plus used ‘Sugar and Crumbs’ strawberry milk shake flavoured icing sugar for the topping and they were delicious. Thank you

  5. 5 stars
    First attempt at baking any kind of bread like dessert. So glad I came across this recipe as I’m not very good at following cooking instructions! Haha
    Couldn’t believe it actually turned out perfect – fluffy and delicious.

    Thank you baking with granny for sharing your wonderful recipe

  6. Hi, I was wondering if these would work if I mix these and let them rise, then pop then in the fridge and bake them the next morning?

  7. 5 stars
    These came out perfect! Soft and fluffy buns! My kids were intimidated and overwhelmed by the size of them but once I cut them in thirds they were demolished piece by piece :-)

  8. I had the same problem and kept adding flour till it was very sticky rather than gloopy. Fortunately it rose beautifully…

  9. I found it very sticky too. I added in a little more strongbflour until it was still soft but easier to handle.

  10. I’ve made these twice and had the same problem:the first time they rose the second time they didn’t and I had to try to rescue them-another knead and more yeast. Okay but with slightly stodgy results.(Nothing goes in the bin in my kitchen if it can be rescued! LOL)

    I’m going to try using a lot less liquid this time but the same amount of yeast and flour. I’ll let you know how I go.

    1. But I should add that the first batch were delicious. I’ve been looking for a recipe for these half my life since I left Scotland. They are exactly what we used to buy from the tuckshop at high school.

  11. 5 stars
    I found the dough wet to begin with, but with a lot of kneading flour, and silicone mat, and a bit of faith they have risen well and taste amazing. I used golden castor sugar and super quick yeast. Lovely.

  12. Hi, someone did ask earlier, but no reply. I’m assuming you can put dried fruit eg. Sultana’s, raisins in these. 1) would they need soaking at all? 2) What quantity would you reckon?

    Ta.

    1. Hi Eve. You can absolutely add some dried fruit! Sultanas would be my preference and no need to soak. And I would say 100g is a good place to start, but you can of course add more/less, depending on how fruity you want your Iced Finger Buns to be.

  13. How to stop the icing on top falling off or disappearing if having the next day (was placed in the fridge) that is what I want to know?

  14. 5 stars
    Delicious! My Grandson said they looked like shop ones! However I agree with several other bakers, the mixture needed a lot more flour, it was far too sticky to knead, but the end result is well worth the wait.

    1. I made them today with our bread maker, wet ingredients first then dry, dough setting – then sliced them up and resumed recipe from step 7. Did require some extra sprinkling of flour midway through the bread maker cycle because it was quite wet, but they turned out very well!

  15. The texture of the buns is perfect,but they are way too sweet. 140g sugar is very high for this amount of dough. Other recipes use anything from 10g (lowest I found) to 55g (highest I found), which seems much more reasonable. After making these, I did them again with 35g sugar, and they were fabulous.

    Aside from that though, these are great. Reduce the sugar and you have the perfect iced bun. I’d have given it 5 stars if not for the sugar.

  16. 5 stars
    Made these for the first time yesterday and they were a success!
    I used my stand mixer with dough hook to knead them after giving it all a good mix with a spoon to begin with. I probably let the butter melt a bit too much in the warm milk so the dough was initially very loose but it firmed up ok on the first rise and was easy enough to shape after that so don’t panic if you have a loose, spreading mass at first!
    Because I didn’t read it properly, I had already divided them into 16 balls instead of 12 so I went with that and they actually came up quite a nice portion size so I’ll stick with 16 buns in future.
    Thanks for the recipe, Amy – another little taste of my childhood :)

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Hi! I'm Amy

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Hello, I’m Amy, the voice-behind and creator-of Baking with Granny.

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