Cakeboi | Reece Hignell’s Recipe For Finger Buns

recipe for finger buns
Reece Hignell’s Nostalgic Finger Buns, from his shop Cakeboi and book of the same name.

I haven’t been to Cakeboi but looking at Reece Hignell’s scrumptius Fruit Tingle Cake on Instagram, this Newcastle bakery is definitely on my list of places to visit.

If, like me, you haven’t been to Cakeboi, then this book of the same name is the next best thing. From Page Street Publishing, Cakeboi is a collection of classic bakes, many of them inspired by recipes from Hignell’s late nan.

Among the treats in the book are Cakeboi’s Signature Lemon Tart and the Spiced Rum Baba that apparently led Katy Perry to exclaim on MasterChef, “You’re the tits, Reece!”

Hignell was a self-taught home baker when he contested MasterChef Australia’s 10th season. He didn’t win but he is said to have been a fan-favourite. (I haven’t watched the show since about season three, so forgive me for being late to the party).  

Hignell was invited to compete in the 2020 Back to Win season and coming in fifth was the impetus he needed to give up a job he was bored with and open what he describes as an “old-school cake shop”.

The stage was set for this newfound career when he was a kid, although he didn’t realize it at the time. Hignell’s grandmother was locally renowned for her cakes and he was often by her side at her weekend market stalls.

“She was the Marie Antoinette of Warners Bay, who provided the goods and let them eat cake,” he writes in the introduction to Cakeboi. “She sold an abundance of cakes, including her amazing passionfruit sponge, the humble carrot cake and those showstopping scones. Many of her recipes are found in this book and used at my shop.”

While most of the recipes in Cakeboi are indeed classics, they certainly don’t look old-school. Finger buns never looked this good when I was a kid.

Buy your copy of  Cakeboi from Australian-owned Booktopia.

Cakeboi recipe for finger buns

Nostalgic Finger Buns

Makes 12 buns

4 cups (550 g) bread flour
⅓ cup (75 g) caster sugar
¼ cup (60 g) butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp (14 g) yeast
Pinch of salt
150 ml (5 oz) milk, at room temperature
150 ml (5 oz) water
Vegetable oil spray

Egg Wash

1 egg
1 tsp milk


1 serving berry jam
1 serving pastry cream or whipped cream
½ cup (70 g) icing sugar

To start the dough, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, butter, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, and water. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough ball begins to form.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough has a smooth surface and springs back when it is poked. Place the dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl, then cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to double in size, which will take about 1 hour.

Roll the dough into a log about 30 cm (12 inches) long, then cut it into 12 portions. (First divide the log into three even parts, then cut each of the thirds in half, and finish by cutting each of those six pieces in half again.) Roll them into balls. Roll one side of each ball to form a little finger at least 10 cm (4 inches) long.

Place the fingers on a lined baking tray. Either brush or spray them with oil, then cover them with a damp tea towel and leave them until they become plump and fluffy, about 40 minutes.

Whilst the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) fan-forced, or, for a non-convection oven, 235°C (455°F). In a bowl, whisk together your egg wash until there are no lumps of egg white remaining. When the dough has risen, lightly brush each finger with the egg wash, then place the tray in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fingers are evenly golden and cooked through. Set them on a wire rack to cool.

Cut each finger bun horizontally, then fill it with your choice of jam or cream. Dust it lightly with icing sugar before serving.

Recipe and image from Cakeboi, by Reece Hignell. Page Street Publishing Co. 2022. Photo credit: Luisa Brimble. Reproduced with the publisher’s permission.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Cakeboi’s recipe for Extra Chewy ANZAC biscuits.

**Enjoy many more delicious recipes from our Food Wine Travel files here.**

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