Hogate’s Rum buns ラムバンズ

japanese cake

We had a lobster dinner at a restaurant one evening with my wife’s friend of 40 some years and her husband. He is a true Washingtonian (born and lived in Washington for his entire life). He reminisced about other lobster dinners he had, particularly those that included rum buns at the now-closed seafood restaurant in Washington water front called Hogate’s. We weren’t entirely sure whether, for him, the lobster was a side dish for the rum buns and he considered the buns the main focus of the meal. My wife and her friend also spent some time at Hogate’s. It was the “go to” place for office luncheons and parties for many years of their early careers. The rum bun was an institution. No meal at Hogate’s was complete without it. I suspect some people went just for the buns. Our friend’s husband may have fit that category. Hogate’s closed 2001, so there has been a rum bun deprivation in Washington for some time.  A copy of this recipe which was published in the Washington Post in 2003 appeared in our e-mail inbox soon after the dinner. (hint, hint). Our friend’s husband was hoping my wife would make some, so he could taste them again.

This is how it looks inside when you break into it, layers of cinnamon sugar.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe, shown in the picture below are measured by weight. 

There were also a number of what appeared to be errors in the original recipe. For example, it called for 4 oz of yeast (which is the equivalent of an entire Fleischmann’s yeast container (way way too much by far. That much yeast is the equivalent of 16 envelopes which at 2 envelopes per loaf would have made at least 8 loaves of bread). So based on previous experience making bread my wife used the usually called for 2 packets of yeast. In addition the recipe called for the dough to be rolled out 4 inches by 20 which didn’t make a lot of sense. My wife rolled it out so it was longer than wide. It also said to bake the buns for 30 minutes. If cooked that long they would have been a cinder. Hopefully the following recipe adequately corrects the apparent anomalies of the original.

The original recipe would have resulted in a dough that exceeded the capacity of our dough mixer so this recipe is half the original.


1 Lb. + 1/2 oz AP flour

2 1/2 oz raisins

3 oz. granulated sugar

2 oz vegetable shortening

2 oz butter

1 tbs grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp salt

1/2 cup warm water

2 packages yeast

1/2 cup eggs

1 oz rum extract

1/2 cup whole milk

Cinnamon sugar:

1 tbs. cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar


1/4 cup water

2 tbs rum extract

2 oz. sugar


1 oz rum extract

1 oz corn syrup

1/2 oz unsalted butter (melted)

6 oz confectioners sugar

Bread: In a mixing bow fitted with a dough hook, combine all dough ingredients. Mix for 20 minutes until dough is smooth, place on floured tray and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Then refrigerate overnight. Next day preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured board. Spread with about 2 tbs melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (as shown below). Then roll out the dough into a rectangle. Cut the dough into rounds 2 to 3 fingers wide. Put in a greased baking dish and let rise until double in size.

Bake in oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Brush with glaze immediately after removing from oven. Cool then coat with icing.

These buns are quite rich. They did bring back memories of past luncheons at Hogate’s. We didn’t add the icing because we thought it would be too sweet for us. Next time we will eliminate the sugar in the cinnamon sugar and just use butter and cinnamon. For our friend’s husband, however, no sugar will be spared. In addition, for him, they would have to be twice the size shown here.

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