The Vintage Chef Olivia Potts

How to use up your spare hot cross buns

How to use up your spare hot cross buns
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It always feels criminal to throw away hot cross buns. Hot cross buns are marked by their scarcity in my house: no sooner do they cross the threshold than they are pounced upon and demolished.

Assuming that you are capable of more restraint than me, this recipe deals with the unlikely scenario of how to use up those leftover buns. The ravenous will be relieved to hear that only two buns are required. And if you have more willpower than I do, you can even hold back a couple more hot cross buns and serve the ice cream between two halves of a bun, as a particularly Eastery ice cream sandwich.

This is a bit of a cross between traditional brown bread ice cream and my a spice-infused ice cream. It has a custard base, infused with cinnamon and nutmeg. The buns are torn and toasted until crunchy and caramelised with demerara sugar. They are then folded through the ice cream with extra sultanas and zest. It’s one of my favourite ice cream recipes, surprisingly sophisticated, but also encompassing all the best bits of hot cross buns.

If you would like to make your own buns, this is my failsafe recipe, which I love. It’ll make you a handsome dozen, which is just enough to allow you to reserve 2 for this recipe.

Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream

Makes: Just over a pint of ice cream

Takes: 1 hour plus 4 hours of freezing

Bakes: 20 minutes on the hob

For the ice cream

300ml double cream

300ml milk

80g light brown sugar

5 egg yolks

20g mixed, chopped peel

30g sultanas

1/2 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

For the hot cross buns

2 hot cross buns

50g light brown sugar

50g demerara sugar

1. First, infuse your cream and milk. Place the cream and milk in a small pan, and grate the nutmeg into it, and stick the cinnamon stick in too. Bring the cream slowly to the boil. At the first sign of bubbles, turn off the heat and leave for thirty minutes.

2. Reheat the cream until it is just shy of a boil. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until they are lighter in colour and thicker in texture, falling in ribbons from the whisk. Pour a quarter of the liquid into the sugar and eggs, whisking the whole time. Add the rest of the liquid, still whisking, and then return to the pan.

3. Cook very gently, stirring the whole time with a spatula, constantly moving the liquid on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the custard has thickened so that it covers the back of a metal spoon. First, the tiny bubbles will disappear, start testing on the back of a metal spoon when this has happened. The liquid will break apart on little spots on the spoon: this means that the eggs haven’t properly coagulated yet. When they do, there will be no spots, and you can run a finger down the back of the spoon, and a clean break will form between the sides of the liquid. You have custard!

4. Decant into a fridge-appropriate container, and cover with clingfilm, which should directly touch the surface of the custard. Chill.

5. Meanwhile, you can caramelise your hot cross buns. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Tear the hot cross buns into small pieces, maybe 1/2cm in width, and place them in a single layer on a tray. Sprinkle with the two different sugars sugar and cook for 15 minutes. The hot cross buns should be crispy and dry, but if they haven’t quite caramelised, pop them under the grill for a couple of minutes, keeping a close eye.

6. Once the custard is thoroughly cold, you can churn your ice cream. If you have an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If not, pop the custard into the freezer and, at half hourly intervals, stir vigorously, breaking up the ice crystals.

7. When the ice cream has been churning for about thirty minutes and is very thick, like soft serve ice cream, remove from the machine and fold the hot cross buns crumbs, zest, and sultanas into the mix. Distribute evenly and then decant into a suitable tub and place in your freezer.

8. Depending on the ferocity of your freezer, you may need to take the ice cream out about twenty minutes before serving, if you want big, handsome boules.

Written byThe Vintage Chef Olivia Potts

Olivia Potts is a former criminal barrister who retrained as a pastry chef. She co-hosts The Spectator’s Table Talk podcast and writes Spectator Life's The Vintage Chef column. A chef and food writer, she was winner of the Fortnum and Mason's debut food book award in 2020 for her memoir A Half Baked Idea.

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