Fuelling Swallows and Amazons fun with bun loaf, a recipe for adventure


Bun Loaf 3 sml

Have you seen the newly remade film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’? I was lucky enough to see this wonderful adaptation during the heady days of summer.  Full of ‘daring deeds of do’ the film brought back nostalgic childhood memories and also fuelled my enthusiasm for some new summer water adventures.

Summer Boaty sml

Its hungry work being a Swallow, more so an Amazon!!! So where can you get all that energy? In a form that’s suitable for a picnic….? The answer comes in the shape of a bun loaf, the classic recipe from the Arthur Ransome book that’s been given the Porridge Lady treatment. Now this isn’t a light weight recipe; it’s not a fluffy, sticky, kind of bun. Instead it’s a hearty, stick to your ribs or sink a pirate ship kind of recipe. It’s a bun loaf that’s made to last for a few days of adventure, as long as it’s safely stowed in a treasure chest (or biscuit tin)

Bun Loaf 2 sml

Swallows and Amazons Bun Loaf


300g Wholemeal Flour

50g Oatbran

75g Butter

75g Brown sugar

1 Teaspoon ginger

1 Teaspoon of cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of nutmeg

1 Teaspoon baking powder

300g of Raisins

100g Mixed peel

1 tablespoon of molasses

250ml Whole milk


  • Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  • Place the flour and oatbran into a deep mixing bowl.
  • Then take room temperature butter, add to the bowl and mix thoroughly with the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  • Add the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and with a big wooden spoon stir in, adding in the sugar too. (I don’t like adding too much sugar to my cakes so if you have a sweet tooth you might want to add more).
  • Add the raisins and mix peel and stir again.
  • Then take a big heaped tablespoon of molasses and a little teaspoon of baking powder and add to the bowl.
  • Pour over the milk and give a final hearty stir.
  • Grease a medium sized loaf tin (about 20cm x 10cm),
  • Then evenly pour in the bun loaf mixture.
  • Young deckhands should ask for the help of an older sailor at this point…
  • Carefully place the loaf tin in the oven.
  • Cook at 180c for twenty minutes then turn the thermostat down to 150c and bake for a further 40 mins.
  • Take the loaf out of the oven and gently insert a knife into the middle of the bun loaf. If it comes out clean the recipe is ready, if not cover with kitchen foil and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked place on a cooling rack, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool for at least one hour.
  • Once cool place in a tin, pop in in your picnic and head out for the high seas!

Bun Loaf 1

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One Response to Fuelling Swallows and Amazons fun with bun loaf, a recipe for adventure

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m just rereading Swallowdale and you have answered a question I was wondering about. Many thanks.

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