A vegan, Easter-time take on the classic British Bread and Butter Pudding using hot cross buns and zipped up with rhubarb and saffron.
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Butter a round baking dish.
Halve all but one of the hot cross buns and butter them. Place the whole one in the centre and arrange the others around it as best fits your dish. I ended up cutting one of them into quarters to fill the gaps. Set aside.
Place the cut rhubarb into a saucepan and pour over the fresh orange juice and add just enough water for the liquid to come halfway up the rhubarb. Add the maple syrup and vanilla. Let the liquid come to a gentle simmer and cook the rhubarb for 3-4 minutes, or until just softened. I let mine go too far in the images! Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and let the juices left in the pan simmer until they are reduced to a light syrup. We will add this to the custard.
To make the custard, pour almost all of the milk into a medium saucepan. Pour the remaining milk in a mug and whisk in the cornflour; add this to the pan and whisk well. Pour in the maple syrup, vanilla, saffron if using, and salt. Bring very gently to a bubble, whisking or stirring as it heats. Simmer until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can run your finger down it, leaving a gap where your finger was. Or, until it is as thick as slightly thickened cream. Pop a lid on the pan to keep warm.
Strain about two-thirds of the custard over the hot cross buns. Take your time so that it can soak in. Dot the rhubarb pieces over the pudding, slightly pressing them in. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and place on a tray and into the hot oven.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until slightly crunchy and the middle is no longer wet with liquid, but is still delectably moist. Meanwhile, gently reheat the remaining custard.
Serve warm rather than hot with the warmed custard, swirling in the rhubarb syrup if you wish. This is delicious at room temperature, too.
I used Marks & Spencer wholemeal hot cross buns with added seeds, so this gives more fibre and nutrients. But use whatever kind that is available.
This custard in this recipe will cover up to 10 hot cross buns, so use more if you have a crowd, or want leftovers.
To heat leftovers, cover with foil and pop in a 180C/350F oven for eight minutes.