Here's an excellent way to use up left-over hot cross buns: slice them, butter them, add a tin of pears, then cloak them in a custard made with cream and the pear syrup. I came up with this recipe yesterday as I was on the point of throwing out six hot cross buns I'd hidden in a cupboard and forgotten about. This pud has a nice, light texture and is pleasantly spicy - but you don't have to add a thing because all the spice - and the raisins - are already there in the Hot Cross Buns. I've added lemon zest to the custard to cut through the richness of the spices, and the pears because I think South African tinned pears are quite delicious. Lovely piping hot, with enormous dollops of cream.
6 hot cross buns
75 ml (75 g) softened butter
1 x 410g tin of pears, cubed (reserve the syrup)
the finely grated zest of a lemon
4 free-range eggs
1 cup (250 ml) cream
150 ml milk
4 Tbsp (60 ml) caster sugar
200 ml reserved pear syrup (see below)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) smooth apricot jam, for glazing
Heat the oven to 160 ºC. Slice the buns into 7-mm-thick slices, and generously butter each slice on one side. Arrange the slices in a 24-cm pie dish or baking dish, in overlapping rings.
Tuck the pear cubes in amongst the slices. Sprinkle the lemon zest all over the slices.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, caster sugar and 200 ml of the pear syrup. (If there isn't enough in the tin, make it up to 200 ml with some extra milk). Strain the custard through a sieve over the hot cross bun slices. Cover with clingfilm and allow to stand for half an hour.
Place the pudding in a bain-marie (a roasting dish filled with water; it should come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the dish) and bake at 160º C for about 40 minutes, or until the pudding is set but still has a delicate wobble in the middle.
Just before you take the pudding out of the oven, gently heat the apricot jam in a saucepan (or in the microwave) until it is runny. Use a pastry brush to paint the hot jam all over the top of the pudding.
Serve right away with flurries of whipped cream, or with vanilla ice cream.