Hot cross buns cooked in a creamy vanilla-scented custard is exceptionally decadent. It would be perfect served on a lazy afternoon following a light soup lunch – it’s a rich and filling dessert.
I had to cook the pudding shown in the photograph in a small bench oven and could not fit in a water bath. I reduced the heat to 150°C (300°F) and cooked it for 30 minutes. I also had no grill, so I scorched the top with a small culinary blow torch. The glass in my oven door had exploded and was out of action, but where there’s a will there’s a way!
6 hot cross buns (about 500g / a good lb) 50g (1¾ oz) unsalted butter, softened 8 x size 6 medium-sized free range egg yolks 175g (6 oz) caster (superfine granulated) sugar ⅓ vanilla pod 300ml (about 10 fl oz) milk 300ml (about 10 fl oz) cream Caster (superfine granulated) sugar to finish
1 Cut the buns into 3-4 slices. Spread with butter and arrange in a 1.5-2 litre (3-4 pints) ovenproof dish.
2 Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl. Put milk and cream in a saucepan. Cut the piece of vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and pod to milk and cream. Bring to a simmer, then pour onto the egg yolks a third at the time, stirring after each addition. Remove vanilla pod. Pour the warm egg mixture over the pudding and leave it to soak for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F): do not use fan bake.
3 Put the dish in a roasting tin three-quarters filled with warm water and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the pudding begins to set; it should not become too firm.
4 When ready, lift pudding out of the tin, sprinkle liberally with caster sugar and glaze under a grill set on a medium heat until the sugar caramelizes. Serve hot.
While the custard needs enough heat to thicken it, if the heat is too high the custard may curdle (it should remain creamy). The water ‘bath’ will provide some protection to ensure an even gentle heat.