Hot Cross Buns

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup milk, warmed to 110°F

1 package dry active yeast

3/4 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cup bread flour

1/2 cup raisins, regular or golden, plumped*(optional)

1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest

1 heaping teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs


Egg Wash

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon water


Glaze

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk


*Plumping raisins, place raisins in a microwave safe bowl, add about a half of cup of liquid, water or orange juice or a mixture. You could also use a couple of tablespoons of rum or brandy, in place of some of the water or juice. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the liquid boils. Allow the raisins to soak in the liquid for about 10 minutes, drain any excess liquid, and use in the recipe.


METHOD:


Coat a large bowl with oil and set aside. Mix together the 1 cup warmed milk, yeast, and the 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and let stand while you do the next step. Combine the flours, 3/4 cup of sugar, raisins, lemon and orange zest, salt, and spices in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir the dry ingredients together. Add in the butter, eggs, and the milk/yeast mixture. Mix using the dough hook until all the flour is mixed in and a sticky dough is formed, about 3 minutes. **Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth, about 5 minutes. Dusting your hands with flour or rubbing a little vegetable shortening on them will help keep the dough from sticking to your hands as much. The dough will be sticky, just keep lightly sprinkling it with flour. I used about a tablespoon or less worked it in until the dough stuck to my hands then sprinkled lightly with flour again, just until you get a nice smooth dough. The dough is sticky but don't go crazy with the flour or you'll end up with heavy buns. 

 Form the dough into a ball, put it into the oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides with the oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.


Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. Punch the dough down, transfer to a lightly floured surface, and knead for 3 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces, about 3 1/2 ounces each. If you want small buns, divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. (You will probably need two baking pans for 24 buns) Shape each piece into a ball and place the balls about 1 inch apart in four rows of three (for 12 buns, use two pans for 24) on the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until the buns double in volume and touch one another, about an hour or so.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees about 30 minutes before you plan to bake the buns.


When the buns are done rising,make the egg wash. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the mixture on the top of each bun. Place buns in the lower third of the oven. Bake until golden brown, about 20  minutes (check at 12-15 minutes, if you made smaller buns). Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Allow buns to cool slightly, about 10 minutes, drizzle a horizontal line across each row of buns followed by a vertical line to form a cross on the top of each bun.


**I followed the original recipe's instructions for kneading the dough, but next time I think I'll leave them in the mixer to knead because the dough was a bit too sticky for hand kneading, in my opinion.

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