Skinny Hot Cross Bun ‘n Butter Pudding, Lazy Salted Caramel

OK, let’s not pretend this is a healthy recipe by any stretch of the imagination. In my defense, it is a skinnier version of a much more calorific British classic that tastes so good, you’d never know.

This is an Easter variation on the infamous bread and butter pudding, a dessert I stayed well clear of for years. The idea of soggy stale bread and greasy butter as a dessert did not appeal in the slightest. Once I finally dared to try it though, I was hooked. Especially when made with rich French brioche or hot cross buns. It’s a bit like a giant baked pain perdu.

Hot cross buns are a classic British Easter bake, a fruited soft bun with cinnamon and nutmeg, reminiscent of tea cakes or currant buns (“krentenbol” in the Netherlands). With a signature cross of a flour and water paste on top. This the name. Obviously.

I’ve made them a couple of times (well, dough in the breadmaker, then shaped and baked to be fair). But I always struggled with that signature cross. My flour and water paste was always either too dry or too sticky. At the last attempt, it stuck more to my hands than to the bun. I’ll try it again one day I’m sure, but for this dessert I cheated with organic wholemeal ones from a good bakery. No nasties in these and no sticky fingers..

Hot cross bun and butter pudding with rum raisins

You don’t necessarily need to go the whole hog with home made ones for this recipe anyway, as you actually want the buns to be slightly stale. If the buns are too fresh and fluffy, they’re at risk of disintegrating  in the custard. So no need to prove your baking prowess for this one, unless you feel the urge. Perfect for using up those buns that are past their best after Easter too.

Bread and butter pudding usually involves tons of double cream and a heart-attack-inducing amount of butter and sugar. We’re going angelic with semi-skimmed milk, a little creme fraiche, Erythritol, wholemeal buns and a mere 25 gr of butter. There’s extra fruit too (be it doused in dark rum), which surely counts as one of your five a day?

Admittedly, we then go and ruin our skinnier efforts with an indulgent salted caramel sauce. Which is optional. So you don’t have to have it. Right? On the plus side, it’s a quick and easy microwave version using coconut palm sugar, so no messing around with dangerous burnt sugar.

Microwave salted butterscotch sauce


Skinnier Hot Cross Bun ‘n Butter Pudding with Rum Raisins (serves 6-8 V RSF)

Use tea or orange juice to soak the fruit if you don’t want to use alcohol. Else cognac, calvados or kirsch is nice too.

Substitute the hot cross buns for other currant buns, fruited bread, panettone or brioche. Use GF buns if you need this to be gluten free.

Hot cross bun bread and butter pudding


40 gr raisins

40 gr unsulphured dried apricots, cut into small pieces

2-3 tbsp dark rum, or enough to cover the fruit

8 hot cross buns, preferably wholemeal and on the stale side

350 ml semi-skimmed milk

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp Erythritol or unrefined caster sugar

2 tbsp creme fraiche

1/4 tsp vanilla paste or a few drops of vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice, mixed spice or a mixture of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

25 gr butter at room temperature

2-3 tbsp Seville orange marmalade or low-sugar/high fruit apricot compote

1 tsp demerara sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Creme fraiche and caramel sauce to serve (optional)


Soak the raisins and apricots in the rum for minimum 2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Halve, quarter or slice the buns and thinly spread with butter and a little marmalade or compote. Layer into an oven dish that is going to fit them snugly (mine was 20 cm x 25 cm).

Drain the fruit, reserving the rum. Scatter the fruit over the buns.

Heat the milk to just below boiling. Whisk together the egg, egg yolks, creme fraiche, erythritol, vanilla and spices until smooth. Gently pour in the warm milk while you continue whisking to ensure the eggs don’t curdle.

Pour the custard over the buns and set aside for minimum 30 minutes to allow the buns to soak up the custard. Press the buns down into the custard occasionally so they stay well immersed.

Hot cross bun and butter pudding ready for the oven

Set the oven dish into a larger oven dish and pour hot water all around until halfway up the dish with the  buns. Be careful not to splash yourself or the buns with hot water when you do this.

Bake for 20 mins. Turn the heat up to 190 C and sprinkle the buns with demerara sugar (if using).Bake for another 15-25 mins, or until the custard is just set and the top of the buns is golden and slightly crispy.

Hot cross bun and butter pudding with rum raisins
Hot cross bun and butter pudding with rum raisins
Hot cross bun and butter pudding with rum raisins

Microwave Salted Caramel Sauce (makes approx 200 ml –  GF LC V)

This is delicious drizzled over pancakes, chocolate cakes and tarts, poached pears, baked apples or ice cream too.


60 gr butter

120 ml whipping cream

150 gr coconut palm sugar, muscovado sugar or soft brown sugar

a good pinch of salt to taste (how much depends on whether you used unsalted butter or slightly salted butter).

1/4 tsp vanilla paste or a few drops of vanilla extract

Rum soaking liquid from the raisins and apricots (optional)

Microwave salted butterscotch sauce


Mix together the butter, cream and sugar in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for a minute or until the butter has melted. Stir together until smooth and add the vanilla, salt and soaking rum (if using).

Check taste and consistency. Add more butter, cream or sugar if needed, then blast again for 30 secs or so.

This will keep in a jar in the fridge for at least a week if not a month. Reheat gently before using.

microwave salted caramel sauce

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