Makes: 20 buns
Time: 30 Minutes
The trick to perfect hot cross buns is to add a generous amount of fruit and a delicate hand for dough.
2 cups whole milk, warmed, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups sultana raisins
Approximately 6 cups flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1/3 cup mixed peel, (available at grocery stores, bulk food stores)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Line one large or two medium baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Stir 1/2 cup milk, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
Cover raisins with boiling water in a small, heatproof bowl. Soak for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze.
Whisk together 5 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Form a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture, butter, remaining milk and eggs. Stir together by hand to form a ragged dough, then place on stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes on medium-low, adding up to another 1/4 cup flour if dough is too wet (dough should be sticky and wet).
Stir in raisins and mixed peel and continue to knead on medium for 2 minutes, until combined.
Turn dough out into a large, well-oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, lightly dampened kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Once doubled, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 equal portions. Form into rounds, pinch bottoms and roll gently to form balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheet(s), about 1 inch apart. Cover lightly and set aside until doubled in size and just touching, about 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Meanwhile, combine apricots, 1/3 cup water and remaining sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until apricots are softened and mixture is thickened, about 5 – 7 minutes. Pour through a strainer, pressing to extract liquid. Set aside to cool. Reserve apricots for another use.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup flour and 2 1/2 – 3 tbsp water. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe crosses onto each bun.
Bake 23 – 26 minutes, until golden brown. If using two baking sheets, switch halfway.
Brush apricot glaze onto hot buns.
MR. PORTER AND MS. CHARLES CULINARY CRAVINGS
Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. But, it takes two to tango so stay tuned to see who will master the steam oven first, or whether Mr. Porter or Ms. Charles comes up with the best new recipes.
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