Hot Cross Muffins

*Hot Cross Muffins*
Makes 12

It doesn't have to be Easter for you to enjoy these lovely muffins, but they are an especially tasty addition to your Easter morning menu. Moist and spicy and chock full of plump raisins, chunks of dried apricot and candied peel, these delicious little babies give you all the pleasure of a hot cross bun without any of the pain. You may also bake the mixture as a loaf, but they do look really cute sitting in the bread basket with those lovely little white icing crosses on top.

1/2 cup of sultanas
2 TBS orange juice
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped candied peel
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar
4 tsp orange juice

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Placed the raisins in a small bowl. Pour the orange juice over top, cover, and place in the microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Set aside.

Lightly butter a 12 cup muffin tin or a 9 X 5 inch loaf tin. Set aside.

Sift the flour together with the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the candied peel and apricots. Fold in the plumped raisins along with any remaining juice.

Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Stir together just until mixed and the dry ingredients are uniformly moistened.

Divide the batter equally amongst the prepared muffin cups. (If making a loaf, scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top)

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes for the muffins, or 1 hour for the loaf, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. They should be well risen and lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes before removing from the pan. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

When you are ready to serve them, stir together the icing sugar and orange juice until well mixed and smooth. Place the mixture into a zip lock baggie. Snip a tiny bit off of one corner of the bag and use it to pipe the glaze in the shape of a cross over the top of each cooled muffin. If you have made a fruited loaf, just pipe and drizzle the glaze over the top haphazardly. Let set before serving.
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