Hot Cross Buns
for the "cross" and glaze:
Combine the raisins and water in a small saucepan. Over medium low heat, bring barely to a simmer, just enough to plump up the raisins. Drain, reserving the water.
Measure 1 1/3 cups of the hot raisin water into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Sprinkle the pieces of butter over the flour and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the beaten eggs and raisins and stir just to moisten the mixture. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir to form a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and use a bench scraper or knife to cut into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and place in a greased 9x13 baking dish. I also made these smaller for a party on Sunday, dividing the dough into 24 small balls, and baking the buns in a mini-muffin pan - very cute!
If you'll be baking these immediately, go ahead and preheat the oven to 400. Let the buns rise again for 15-20 minutes in a warm place before baking. If you're preparing these in advance, then at this point, cover the pan of buns with plastic and refrigerate immediately. The cool temperature will help to slow down the second rising - although they will still rise a little in the fridge. Remove from the fridge to come to room temperature 1 hour before baking. These can be made up to a day in advance.
The last step before baking the buns is to mix the flour/water paste to create the cross. Many recipes call for equal parts flour and water, but I found that ratio to be far too thin, and it ran everywhere. Start with 2 parts flour and 1 part water, then slowly add a little more water if needed to create a thick, but pliable paste. Scrape the paste into a plastic baggie and snip off the corner. Pipe the paste across the buns to create a cross across each.
Bake the buns for 10 minutes at 400. Reduce the heat to 350, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Before serving, brush the tops of the buns with the warmed orange marmalade.
Yields 12 large or 24 medium buns.
Recipe adapted from Hot Cross Buns by Citrus and Candy.