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Hot Cross Buns (Gails x Nigella x Me!)


Infused Milk - (200ml once complete)
250ml of cold milk
3 crunched cardamoms
2 cloves (+ bits)
1 smashed cinnamon stick

Syrup -
100g vanilla caster sugar + 65g water + 1 smashed nutmeg + 1 star anise + 2 cloves + strip(s) of peel from a clementine + 1-2 tsp lemon juice. Warm it up until the sugar has dissolved then let it steep for a bit. Closer to time, fish the bits out (using a hot tea-strainer) and boil it to syrupy.

Main bun ingredients -
450g strong white bread flour (Shipton Mill!)
7g sachet quick/dried/fast-action yeast
65g golden vanilla infused caster sugar
½ tsp fine salt
3/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp of mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

200ml of infused milk
2 large eggs
85g of room-temp butter

190g of dried fruit in total :
40g currants
40g sultanas
40g semi-dry cranberries
70g mixed peel

Cross mixture: fork together adding drips of milk until it’s a smooth paste and put in a piping bag
30g plain flour
35g icing sugar
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp milk

Egg wash : 1 egg minus some white + splash of water, beaten (will make more than enough ...)

Start with milk-infusing (all in pan to near-boil then take off heat and leave with lid on for at least 15 mins). Cool until < 50deg C or so - not so hot as to coddle the eggs when you blend them in.
Then get syrup infusing.

Weigh the dry stuff and fruit, butter and locate eggs.
Strain the warm, infused milk into a jug to check you've got 200ml.
Add in the (2) eggs and beat it up a bit.

Put liquid (milk+eggs), flour/spices/yeast/sugar/salt into mixer bowl and run the machine on Speed 1 with dough hook for a minute or two to bring it all together. Rest for 5 mins to let the flour get properly wetted.
Restart the mixer and start adding lumps of butter until they're all in.
Run the machine until the dough is shiny, elastic and wrapping itself entirely round the hook (lifting off the bottom of the bowl) periodically.

Cover it and let it rise to x2 volume (~1hr at 25-30degC or overnight in the fridge)
Line large deep baking/roasting tray with parchment/greaseproof paper leaving the paper high around the sides.
Knock back the dough, knead it a bit then press it out roughly flat.
Scatter the dried fruit over it and roll it up crudely, then knead it all around a bit to distribute the fruit.

Divide it up into 12 or 20 equal lumps (roughly 20 x 56g each or 12 x 93g)
Shape each into a ball (start by stretching and folding between finger tips, then roll between claw hand and worktop) - and keep forcing wayward fruit back into the dough. A dough scraper is very useful here too.
Arrange the balls evenly across the tin.
Cover the tin with clingfilm/whatever (e.g. put it in a large plastic bag) and put it to rise - 40-50 mins of warm may do it – depends how frisky the yeast is - the balls should be starting to nudge into each other. Or leave overnight but allow to warm and finish rising in the morning.
Make cross mixture and prepare egg wash.

Pre-heat oven to 200 degC.

Brush all the buns with the egg wash.
Pipe lines across the grid to make crosses.
Put in oven for 20-22 mins; may need to turn the oven down to 180degC and/or cover with foil to avoid the tops getting too toasty.

Glaze with the syrup when done. Leave for 15 mins to cool/finish cooking through before eating! Reheat by toasting gently (but watch out for the syrup - it's sticky and dangerous when hot!)