Warm hot cross buns; spiced, zested and dripping in butter, are as synonymous with spring as blossom and Easter egg hunts. I find the flavour particularly nostalgic, so thought I’d apply it to one of my favourite things- ice cream. This is made up of a classic custard base (which I infused with cardamom, mixed spice and cinnamon), a buttered hot cross bun crumb and plump orange-soaked raisins. The result is so delicious we got through about 1.5l in three days (wouldn’t recommend this).
- 400ml whole milk
- 400ml double cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 cardamom pods, cracked
- 1/2 fresh nutmeg, grated
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 8 egg yolks
- 85g caster sugar
- 50g light brown soft sugar
- pinch salt
- 225g hot cross buns
- 1tbsp demerara sugar
- 2tbsp butter
- 75g raisins
- juice and zest 1 orange
- You will need an ice cream churner for this recipe. If the bowl of your churner needs freezing, do this the day before.
- Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cardamom pods and mixed spice.
- Gently heat the milk to scalding point (just as it starts to simmer) then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar, soft light brown sugar and salt. Once this mixture is voluminous and light, strain the milk through a sieve and add in in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
- Pour the custard into a large clean saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, close cover and leave to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 190c. While the ice cream base is cooling, make the hot cross bun crumb. To do this simply blitz the hot cross buns into a coarse crumb, then tip into a large frying pan along with the butter and demerara sugar. Stir to coat the crumbs in the melted butter and once they begin to crisp, tip onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
- Place the raisins in a small bowl along with the orange juice and zest. Leave them too plump up.
- Once your ice cream base is completely cool, churn it for about 10 minutes or until it’s starting to thicken. At this stage, add 3/4 of the hot cross bun crumb and most of the plumped raisins. Continue to churn until thick, then tip into a large lined container, top with the remaining crumb and raisins and freeze for at least 4 hours. At this point, it’s ready to serve.
Sometimes ingredients just belong together, and that is certainly the case when it comes to sticky baked apricots and almonds. With these upside down almond cakes I’ve taken this tried and tested flavour combination and made it that little bit more delicious with the addition of fragrant, slightly woody rosemary, and salty-sweet pine nut praline (which, by the way, is extremely moreish). Serve up with a generous dollop of mascarpone and a drizzle of good quality honey and take a basic, fairly retro little cake to a great seasonal dessert.
Ingredients (makes 12)
For the rosemary honey
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 6tbsp runny honey
For the cakes
- 225g softened unsalted butter
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 150g plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- 2tsp chopped rosemary
- 150g ground almonds
- 175ml milk
- 6 ripe apricots
For the pine nut praline
- 100g pine nuts, toasted
- 125g caster sugar
- generous pinch sea salt
- creme fraiche or mascarpone
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a mini cake tray (I have a tray with 6 holes, each slightly larger in size than a muffin- I just used it twice as the recipe yields 12 mini cakes) with butter then dust with flour and shake out any excess (greasing and flouring should prevent any sticking). To be extra safe, place a little circle of greaseproof paper in the base of each hole. If you don’t have a mini cake tray, you could make these in large muffin cases, yielding about 15-18.
- Before you make the cake batter, place the honey in a saucepan along with the rosemary sprigs. Heat gently until the honey starts bubbling slightly then set aside to infuse. You’ll use this later.
- For the cake batter, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat until very pale and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition. To prevent curdling, add a little bit of the flour with each egg. Once all the eggs are incorporated, stir together the rest of the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt, and chopped rosemary in a bowl. Add half of these fry ingredients along with half of the milk and fold in, then add the rest and fold again until you have a smooth mixture.
- Drizzle about half a teaspoon of your infused honey into the base of each hole in your prepared tray. Half the apricots and place one half, cut side down, on top of the honey. Top with your cake mix (about 2/3 full) and level off the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- While the cakes are baking, make the pine nut praline. To do this simply place the sugar in a pan and heat gently until it starts melting at the edges. Give it a swirl (do not stir) and once it’s all dissolved add the pine nuts. Stir to coat the pine nuts and once the caramel has reached a deep golden colour, scrape onto a piece of greaseproof paper and level out. Leave it to set hard (about 10-15 minutes) then blitz it up in a food processor with a very generous pinch of sea salt (don’t over blitz, it’s nice to have a bit of crunch).
- When your cakes are ready, leave to cool in the tins for a while then carefully turn out. Heat the remaining infused honey, just to loosen, then brush all over the surfaces. Serve each cake with a spoonful of mascarpone and some of the pine nut praline.