Hot cross buns. Classic and deliciously warming at any time of year. Serve with fresh butter or halved and toasted.
300ml full fat milk
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp sea salt
50g caster sugar
2-3 tsp ground mixed spice
7g fast action yeast/14g fresh yeast
50g mixed peel
Zest of 1 orange
For the cross and glaze:
75g plain flour
3 tbsp apricot jam
Place the milk in a pan and heat to scalding point but not boiling - you should see steam coming off.
Take off the heat and add the butter to melt. Leave to cool to blood temp, about 38C.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, sugar and mixed spice.
In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 1 tbsp of the milk and mix to form a smooth, loose paste.
Lightly beat the egg in a separate bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and yeast, making sure all the yeast is scraped out of the bowl.
Pour in ¾ of the milk/butter mixture and stir to combine. Add enough more of the reserved milk to make a soft dough but is not too sticky.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Or place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start on a slow speed to bring the dough together, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed and turn up the speed to medium until the dough becomes shiny and elastic.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise for 1-1 ½ hours until doubled in size. A light press with a finger should leave a dent.
Transfer to a work surface and knock back the dough. Knead for 2-3 minutes and add the dried fruits and mixed peel.
On a lightly oiled surface, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into buns by rolling to create a taught surface on one side. Arrange on a large oiled baking sheet, leaving enough space between each one to rise.
Gently press each bun to flatten the surface and cover with oiled cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave to prove until doubled in size, 45 minutes - 1 hour. A light indent with a finger should bounce back.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour and milk to form a thick paste and place in a small piping bag with a 5mm nozzle in the end. Pipe the mixture in a cross shape on the top of each bun.
Place on the top shelf of the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. They should feel light and hollow when you tap on the bottom.
Gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan to loosen. While still warm, brush all over the buns with the jam.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.