Lemon Love Buns

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Tender and buttery, with a crunchy sugar crust, these yeasted buns deliver an unexpected and refreshing jolt of citrus. The citrus essence elevates them beyond ordinary dinner rolls to something special: tea or breakfast rolls, perfect for spreading with homemade preserves (we recommend raspberry highly).

25 mins
20 mins
3 hrs 45 mins
16 buns
Lemon Love Buns


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to form a cohesive dough.

  2. Knead the dough, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth, soft and supple; avoid adding too much flour, as this will make the buns tough and dry. If you're using a stand mixer, knead for 2 minutes with the flat beater, then switch to the dough hook and knead for an additional 5 minutes.

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy, though it probably won't have doubled in bulk.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it into 16 pieces (about 1 1/2 ounces or 43g each).

  5. To make round buns, simply round the pieces into balls. To make hearts or knots, see our illustrated blog post for complete instructions.

  6. For soft-sided round buns, place them in a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. For knots or hearts, space the shaped buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

  7. Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until they're nice and puffy; when you press a finger gently into a bun, the resulting indentation shouldn't spring back.

  8. While the buns are rising, combine the egg white and water, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  9. Brush the risen buns with the egg white mixture, and sprinkle with coarse or pearl sugar.

  10. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, or until they're a light golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container (a plastic bag is fine) until ready to serve.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Can you replace the lemon oil with grated lemon peel? Of course. Use the grated peel from 1 medium-to-large lemon.
  • We originally printed a version of this recipe, Lemon Buns, in our May-June, 1996 Baking Sheet newsletter. Since then, we've amended it to use either lemon oil or Fiori di Sicilia flavor, an Italian citrus-vanilla flavoring that we use in place of vanilla in all kinds of treats, from sugar cookies to pound cake.