Hot Cross buns are a wonderful thing, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and other things, packed with dried fruit and a treat like Christmas cake available only for a short time around Easter. Or at least that is how it used to be.
The history of the buns is strongly linked to celebrations relating to Easter. Various European countries make a spiced bread bun to celebrate Spring rebirth and the cross on top clearly references the Christian crucifixion.
The use of spices in historical times was limited due to their difficulty to import from far off lands, making them a rare and expensive luxury. So it was that they would in turn only be used for special occasions or special dishes.
There is also the decree from the time of Queen Elizabeth and 16th Century England, that stated it was forbidden to bake or sell hot cross buns or other spiced bread, except on the day of burials, Good Friday or Christmas. The fine for doing so was that they would be confiscated and donated to the poor. I wonder how many were donated or were instead ‘sampled’ by those confiscating.
Now in modern times such a law no longer applies, and the sweet buns seem to appear on the shelves before Santa has even finished deliveries. Not just ‘traditional’ fruit and spice either, but fruitless, chocolate, coffee, and I have even seen tropical and caramel.
“Well,” I thought “rather than complain, let’s embrace this glut of yum and bake something.” And after a few tries to get it right, I have come up with the following recipe.
Note that for the recipe, I have suggested fruitless, as it allows the cranberry and apple flavours to shine through. If you want to make this with one of the other flavours, go right ahead, there are no rules only guidelines.
Also, we were ‘naughty’ and had ours with extra cream, just because we could.
Cranberry and Apple Hot Cross Bun Pudding
- 1 Deep baking dish
- 1 Bread knife
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 Sieve
- 1 6 pack Pre-made Hot Cross Buns Fruitless works best for this
- 50 g Butter at room temp
- 1 each Red Apple
- 100 g Dried Cranberries
- 500 ml Milk
- 200 ml Thickened Cream
- 3 each Eggs
- 100 g Caster Sugar
- ½ teasp Cinnamon approx, for dusting
- 1 tbsp Cranberry Sauce
- 1 tbsp Caster Sugar
- 2 tbsp Boiling Water
- Dice the apple and scatter with the cranberries evenly over the baking dish.1 each Red Apple, 100 g Dried Cranberries
- Remove the buns from their pack and slice vertically into 1 cm thick slices.1 6 pack Pre-made Hot Cross Buns
- Spread butter on both sides of each slice, including the ends, and place on top of the fruit in the tray.50 g Butter
- Combine the milk, cream, eggs and sugar in the bowl, stir well, then strain through the sieve over the buns. Ensure to pour the milk mixture evenly over all the buns to cover.500 ml Milk, 200 ml Thickened Cream, 3 each Eggs, 100 g Caster Sugar
- Dust with the cinnamon, and then place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours to allow the milk to be absorbed. If you can leave overnight even better.½ teasp Cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 160°C 325°F, Gas mark 3, WarmRemove the tray from the refrigerator and bring to room temp while the oven warms.
- Bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes, or until the custard sets. If the top starts to darken too much, cover loosely with foil or baking paper, and turn the oven down slightly.
- Just before you are ready to remove the tray from the oven, prepare the glaze by combining the sugar and cranberry sauce then stir in the boiling water. Set to one side.
- When the custard is set, remove it from the oven and immediately spoon the glaze over the buns and allowing it to spill in between and around.
- This can be served immediately, or allowed to cool at your discretion.