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English Hot Cross Buns

ingredients

makes 12
15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 7.5 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried
300 ml (1/2 pint) warm milk
450 g (1 lb) strong white flour
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) ground mixed spice
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) grated nutmeg
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
75 g (3 oz) butter
75 g (3 oz) currants
25 g (1 oz) chopped mixed peel
1 egg, beaten
50 g (2 oz) plain flour

for the glaze

60 ml (4 tbsp) fresh milk and water, mixed
45 ml (3 tbsp) caster sugar

method

1. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the milk. If using dried yeast, sprinkle it into the milk and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until frothy.

2. Put the strong flour, salt, spices and sugar in a bowl. Rub in 50 g (2 oz) of the butter, then stir in the currants and peel. Make a well in the centre and stir in the egg and yeast liquid and beat together to a soft dough.

3. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky. Put into a clean bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for 2 - 3 minutes. Divide the dough into
12 pieces and shape into round buns.

5. Place on greased baking sheets, cover and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

6. Meanwhile, make the pastry for the crosses. Put the plain flour in a bowl and rub in the remaining butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in enough water to bind the mixture together. Knead lightly.

7. Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface and cut into thin strips about 9 cm (3 1/2 inches) long. Dampen the pastry strips and lay two on each bun to make a cross.

8. Bake at 190°C (375°F) mark 5 for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. For the glaze, heat the milk and water with the sugar. Brush the hot buns twice with glaze, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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