Zimbabwean Buns

By Rutendo

Want to bake buns/bread? That is definitely music to my bread loving ears and I cannot wait to get you started. Bread baking is not that hard per se, but it can be intimidating and I can tell you from experience that it is easier than it seems. I did make the buns in the pictures and that was my third try. First time made little rock buns, second time they were slightly burned and third time was the charm. Even if you have never opened a packet of yeast don’t worry about a thing, you’ve got this. Starting with the simplest recipes is the key to learning and gaining confidence that’s why this recipe is for you. You will have seriously good buns and loaves to rival your local bakery, even after the third try!


  • 3 and ¾ cup all purpose/plain flour (self raising flour does not give you the same results. You can also substitute with bread flour. The 3 cups of flour will be mixed in and the ¾ cup is for kneading the dough).
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (make sure your yeast is up to date and if your yeast has been exposed to heat it may not work well in the product).
  • 1 cup luke warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • Flour/water mixture (roux) 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water to make.


  • Start by making the roux. In a small pot, mix 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water then heat the mixture on medium heat and stir continuously until it forms a thick mixture. Remove from heat and mix thoroughly the mixture until it looks smooth and sticky. Leave the mixture to completely cool to room temperature and set aside for later use.
  • In a bowl, mix 3 cups flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Make a well in the centre and add melted butter, lukewarm milk and egg and mix well. Add the roux ( flour mixture from step 1) to the dough and mix well. Use the remaining ¾ cup flour to to dust your surface regularly as you knead the dough for about 15 minutes. Add more flour if it is too thin. The dough itself is very sticky so add flour to the surface as you knead until it becomes smooth and elastic. (While kneading, if your dough is rough and dense the buns will not be great. The end result will be hard rock stones). 
  • Put a tsp of cooking oil in a clean bowl and put the dough to completely coat it with oil then cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp kitchen towel, put in a warm place and allow to rise for an hour. (I switch the oven on for 2-3 minutes then off to create the warm environment for the dough to rise). 
  • Punch the dough and knead for a minute to get rid of air bubbles. Divide dough into twelve sections and shape into tight balls then place in a greased baking pan/tray. Dust hands with flour while shaping to avoid dough sticking to hands. 
  • Place the little balls 1-2cm apart and cover with clean damp kitchen towel or greased plastic wrap. Again put in a warm place and allow to rise for about 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 200°c and bake for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned. 
  • As soon as they come out of the oven brush with sugar water syrup to glaze.

Photographs provided by Rutendo

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