The correct way to eat a Botham’s lemon bun in Whitby - according to the people who make them

How to eat a Botham's lemon bun is often debated by those visiting Whitby but now the family of bakers who make them have revealed what the correct way of eating this local delicacy really is.

“It’s like an iced finger but a bun with raisins in the middle,” says one tourist, while another says “it’s like a tea cake with icing on the top”. Even what a Botham's lemon bun is is hotly contested among fans.

But people will certainly know if you’re a cod head (local) or not by how you eat a Botham lemon bun.

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What is a Botham's lemon bun?

A lemon bun from Botham's

Elizabeth Botham began making Whitby lemon buns more than 150 years ago in Skinner Street bakehouse, located on Whitby's West Cliff, behind Skinner Street Shop.

While the bakery is moving, apparently the recipe and the traditional method of how to eat a Botham lemon bun will always stay the same.

Botham’s of Whitby said: “We have been making Whitby Lemon Buns for over one hundred years; a lightly fruited teacake generously topped with a zesty lemon icing.

“There is a long-standing debate about how to eat a Whitby Lemon Bun, which has even seen celebrity chef James Martin airing his strong views on TV.”

James Martin said that people will know you’re a tourist if you get it wrong.

How do you eat a Botham lemon bun?

“Highly debated in the town and in our family of bakers,” said Botham’s. “We definitely champion tearing the bun in half, lightly buttering before turning the icing inside - to be enjoyed as a lemon bun sandwich.”

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Botham’s confirmed that this traditional method to split the bun in half but said that buttering at this stage is optional and is “also highly debated.”

Then turn the lemon topping inside and eat it like a sandwich.

“Just like fish and chips, enjoying a Whitby lemon bun is high up on any 'Visit Whitby' itinerary,” added Botham’s.

Teresa Tyram, whose husband helps to bake the famous sweet treat, also said: “Locals rip them in half so the icing is in the middle, so you don’t get sticky fingers.”

Botham's of Whitby was established in 1865 by Elizabeth Botham and the Skinner Street premises, acquired some time later, was recognised by Whitby Civic Society in 2013 with a blue plaque.

This historic building is full of sights, sounds and aromas which change depending on the day, time and season in which you enter, according to Botham’s.

“To our family bakers, this building holds a familiarity normally characteristic of a home and, as such, this building is full of memories,” said Botham’s on their blog.

By the end of 2022, all production will move up to the newly-built bakery on Enterprise Way business park and Skinner Street bakery will turn off the ovens for the final time.

The Botham family would like to reassure people that the original premises, namely Skinner Street shop and tea room, will remain in place.

Jonathan Botham said that: “This move is purely of necessity. Our popular Skinner Street shop and tea rooms will remain in-situ, the only change for them will be a daily delivery of fresh bakery produce by our vans in the same way that we currently supply our other four shops & tea rooms.”

Of the build, Jonathan added: “It enables us to radically change production, advance with technology and replace vital machinery without the ‘how-on-earth-do-we-get-that-up-the-stairs!’ moments.

“The move will also see a reduction in large vehicle deliveries to Skinner Street which is narrow and one-way. It also helps us to improve efficiency; save both time and energy, and grow the business which helps us to keep baking into the future.”

He added that this move has been in planning with the family for a number of years, and the family would like to stress that this move is essential.

Lois Borrett, Director and great-great granddaughter of Elizabeth Botham said: “It’s not about growing the business to be even bigger. It’s about being enterprising to secure a future for the business as a whole.

“We are a family business for families, by lots of definitions: our shops and tea rooms are enjoyed by families near and far; our mail order hampers are delivered to friends & families nationwide and the pandemic reminded us about how important these deliveries can be with so many of our care packages being sent; we supply lots of other local, family-run businesses and outsource work locally were possible; we employ local people and, as such, we often have times when we have several generations of one local family working for us at one time."