Wine & Food

    Credit: Samuel Pollen

    Recipe: Hot cross bun ice cream

    6 April 2020

    I previously found myself trying to justify a recipe that used leftover hot cross buns. Justifying because 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. Eventually, I gave up in my justifications and commended simply buying an extra batch for the purposes of that particular pudding.

    Here I am again, disingenuously suggesting that you too aren’t a blur of butter and bun crumbs by now: this time for a hot cross bun ice cream. However, this recipe does only use two hot cross buns, rather than the previously required six, so it’s a little more plausible, right? 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.

    Credit: Samuel Pollen

    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.