It’s only been a few months since Christmas, with its roasts and turkeys (did you know you could get them deep-fried? SHUDDER!), eggnog, cookies and cakes and a hundred other things which make the tastebuds orgasm and the thighs quietly weep.
So, did you make a new year’s resolution to be healthier? To eat more leafy greens, drink less and exercise more?
If so, I apologize in advance – this post isn’t going to make those resolutions any easier to achieve.
I was approached by Bakers Delight to come up with a few recipes that involved hot cross buns. Well hell, I love a good challenge as much as anyone, so I thought why the hell not.
You see, the real challenge is that I’m just not a hot cross bun fan. Never have been. Never will be. So for me, the challenge was to see whether I could use hot cross buns in a recipe that would tempt even the most hardline anti-bun freak (and I wholeheartedly recognize myself as a freak as almost everyone else in the world appears to adore these things) to give them a whirl.
First of all, I should probably admit that I had a little help – thankfully my food-loving friends and colleagues were more than happy to assist as a sounding board for me to bounce ideas off, but I found myself in one particular discussion where the imagined dishes were just becoming more and more involved…and quite frankly ridiculous. No, what I needed was something quick, easy and beautifully simple.
Hot cross buns have a reputation for being one of the fastest sweet breads to go stale. Of course, most of my friends argued that they rarely last long enough to actually GO stale, but when they did have more than they could cope with, the stale state was reached pretty quickly. So my head jumped to the most common uses for stale bread.
Three ideas came to mind – breadcrumbs, bread and butter pudding, and French toast. I did consider the breadcrumbs for a moment, but dismissed the idea pretty quickly as the additions of raisins and chocolate chips to these hot cross buns would not have made this an easy feat. That, and I didn’t fancy the idea of having to wait for the buns to actually BECOME stale enough to crumbify. Wait, is that an actual word? Meh, I’m gonna let that one slide for now…
So the two remaining ideas of French toast and bread & butter pudding were left. I hmmed and hawwed for a little bit, but as I couldn’t decide between the two, I gave up and tried them both, resigning myself to decide on the winning result purely based on outcome.
And do we have a winner.
You bet your sweet shiny ass, we do!
Read the next two sentences slowly, taking in every word as you do:
Mocha hot cross buns, layered with dark chocolate chips, pressed and coated in a rich eggy batter and fried till crisp and caramelized on the outside and soft and oozing with chocolate on the inside. All this, topped with a generous dollop of lightly whipped cream flecked with dark chocolate shavings.
Whew. Give me a second to spark one. Oh baby, was that as good for you as it was for me?
Okay, so I admit that your heart palpitations are probably more likely to be from the estimated calorie count of this dish rather than actual love, but if you have any stale hot cross buns, I guarantee that this is the way to use them. I’ve included a recipe for the bread & butter pudding too for anyone who is interested…but hey, if you’re gonna be bad, why do it half-arsed?
Chocolate-Stuffed Easter French toast
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 hot cross buns (preferably mocha-flavoured)
2 medium-sized eggs
1/4 cup milk (or if you really want to sin, you could absolutely use cream!)
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (please – AVOID vanilla essence. It is a pale, pale imitation)
Approx. 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup thickened or double cream, chilled
Approx. 4 tbsp shaved dark chocolate
To make your own chocolate shavings easily, stick a few squares of chocolate in a parmesan grater and wind away. It’s by far the quickest and easiest way of getting small shavings, so long as you don’t mind the clean up afterwards!
1. Firstly, slice your buns horizontally into about 4-5 layers. I went for 6, but that was probably overkill. 4 should be fine! The buns are easier to slice if you leave them to get a little stale first.
2. Press a few chocolate chips in between each layer (I went with 5), then when you’re finished layering it, use your hand to squish the bun together firmly.
3. Lightly beat together the egg, milk, sugar and vanilla, then dip each hot cross bin in the mixture. Remember to flip it at least once but not to let it soak – you want the egg to coat it, not turn it into a soggy mess. Once you’ve done that, heat up a little oil in a non-stick frying pan over a low flame, then fry the buns one at a time.
Leave each bun to cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, only flipping once the side that has been cooking is crispy and the sugars have caramelized nicely.
4. Just before serving, whip the cream till it holds soft peaks, then use a metal spoon to gently fold in the chocolate flakes. Whack a dollop of this on top of each bun as it’s being served, and watch the cream and the chocolate melt together and drip everywhere into a gorgeously calorific MESS!
I take no responsibility for any guilt you may encounter for having tried this recipe, but I will say that I warned you – about both the effect on your conscious and your tastebuds 😉 Enjoy it with a few mates, because nothing says ‘I love you’ like a shared calorie overkill session!
For those who would prefer something that is baked and not fried, and not quite so conducive to a cardiac arrest, I’ve also included my recipe for a bread and butter pudding.
This is the recipe to go with if you’re guilt is preventing you from indulging in a cellulite-celebrating free-for-all, but you still have a few hot cross buns rolling about the house which are crying for a second chance at life.
Don’t get me wrong – the recipe still tastes lovely and it’s not as bad for you as my recommended French toast recipe, but this still ain’t exactly what I’d call health spa food 😛 So consider yourself warned!
Hot Cross Bread & Butter Pudding
Ingredients (serves 4)
4-5 stale hot cross buns (a variety is good but whatever you have will work)
1/2 cup milk
A knob of butter (about 1 tbsp or so)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
Icing sugar and cream, to serve
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, then slice your hot cross buns. The more stale and firm they are, the better they will withstand this recipe.
2. Put the milk, butter, cinnamon, vanilla and butter into a pan and heat over a low flame till the butter is almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir till the butter has completely melted into the mixture.
3. Layer the sliced hot cross buns into a bowl or dish and slowly our the milk over, trying to saturate as much of the bread as possible. If your buns were still soft, move on immediately to the next step, but if they were quite firm, leave them to sit for a few minutes in the fridge.
4. Pour the lightly beaten egg over the top and very gently flip the pieces so that the egg becomes evenly distributed. The slices may fall apart a bit during this process, but don’t worry, it won’t affect the outcome much!
5. Lightly butter 4 1-cup ramekins, then layer the hot cross bun mixture in, sprinkling some walnuts in between each layer.Once you’ve reached the final layer, sprinkle some walnuts on top as well as about 1/2 tbsp caster sugar for each ramekin.
Place the filled ramekins into a baking tray filled with boiling water, then place in the oven to bake for 35-45 minutes, or till they have puffed up beautifully and the tops are hard and dark brown.
Once you’ve pulled these bad boys out of the oven, allow them to cool a little before dusting their tops with a little icing/powdered sugar and a dash of cream, then serve while still warm.
Oh, and if you really want to be bad, go for a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream. I couldn’t actually bring myself to do it, but was told by a reliable source that this combination truly was an orgasmic one.
[tags]Hot Cross Buns, Easter, Bread, Recipes, French toast, Pudding, Bakers Delight[/tags]