Excepting the obvious, the most frequently eaten treat at Easter is almost certainly the hot cross bun. Spicy, fruity and soft on top, these sweet buns have become something of a British institution, traditionally consumed on Good Friday. Unfortunately, unlike Dame Helen Mirren, this is one British institution that goes stale given sufficient time. Indeed, a week has been so carelessly allowed to elapse since the World’s favourite chocolate-based holiday and it is likely that a great number of bread bins are inhabited by forgotten crossed buns. Usually, this would spell waste or perhaps bird food, but no more – a recipe for hot cross bread and butter pudding has arrived.
Bread and butter pudding is an 18th century British pudding, renowned for its frugality and universal appeal – there isn’t anything about it that’s offensive. Made with regular white bread, usually stale, it provides a fantastic solution for bread that would otherwise find itself thrown out. As such, it was a favourite during the World Wars – a time when waste was simply not an option. Happily, we can afford a little more luxury these days and the milky flavour of a basic bread and butter pudding provides a fantastic base for all manner of flavours – nutmeg included.
Key to making an attractive bread and butter pudding is getting a fantastic rise. What causes this is the expansion of the custard mixture from within the bread during the cooking process. Achieving a good rise isn’t particularly difficult – simply make sure you’ve allowed enough time for the egg mixture to soak into the bread. Forget to do this and it’s likely you’ll end up with a flat and unattractive, though delicious, pud – more like a custard tart with hot cross buns preserved inside. Best of luck, I’m sure you’ll do fine.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Gemsfoodgems – thanks!
Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding
• 6 hot cross buns
• 30g salted butter
• 3 medium eggs
• 450ml whole milk
• 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar, extra for sprinkling
• A generous handful of raisins and sultanas
• ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. First, cut your buns in half and butter both sides. Chop them in half again to make triangles and butter a medium-sized casserole dish.
2. Layer the triangles made from the bottom half of the buns in the dish, press down a little and scatter with the fruit and nutmeg. Whisk together the eggs, milk and sugar – pour over three quarters of the custard and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Take the tops of the buns and pop into the custard mixture for 5-10 minutes. Arrange on top of the base layer, pour over any left over custard and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through. Serve immediately with ice cream, single cream or yoghurt – it’ll keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Cost: This is another great way to use up leftovers – don’t forget, you can use the same recipe for a white bread or brioche bread and butter pudding. However, those hot cross buns, whether bought or made, did cost someone money. Indeed, this huge pudding – perfect for up to eight – should set one back around £2.80.