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Hot Cross Buns
From Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book Of Breads, by Bernard Clayton, Jr.

Traditionally served on Good Friday, the hot cross bun is one of the season's legendary breads. This one is speckled nut-brown, rich with cloves, nutmeg, currants, and candied fruit.

A cross of confectioners' icing is the distinctive mark of this bread that is in every child's book of nursery rhymes. Despite its Christian overtone, the bun is supposed to have originated in pagan England. Even today, a hot cross bun baked and served on Good Friday is believed to have special curative powers.

Note: The dough is refrigerated overnight, so prepare it on Maundy Thursday if you wish to serve it on Good Friday. Bake enough for Easter breakfast, too.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for brushing
2 eggs, separated
1 cup hot milk (120F to 130F (50C to 55C))
3-1/2 to 4 cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1/4 cup chopped candied fruit
1 egg yolk, beaten, mixed with:
2 tablespoons water
1 cup confectioners' sugar mixed with:
1 tablespoon milk and
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Baking Sheet:

1 baking sheet, greased or Teflon

Instructions:

By Hand or Mixer: (30 mins.)

In a large bowl mix the sugar, melted butter, egg yolks, and hot milk. Stir to blend and set aside for a moment.

Into a mixing or mixer bowl measure 2-1/2 cups flour, the yeast, salt, and spices; blend. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour with 50 strong strokes of a wooden spoon, or for 2 minutes with a mixer flat beater. Add the currants or raisins and candied fruit. Blend.

Beat the egg whites until frothy but not quite stiff, and work into the batter. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, with the spoon or dough hook, until it is a rough mass. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes. Don't make it a stiff dough but leave it soft and elastic.

By Processor: (5 mins.)

Attach the short plastic dough blade.

Mix the moist ingredients, as above.

Measure 2-1/2 cups flour, the yeast, salt, and spices into the work bowl. Pulse to blend. With the processor running, pour the liquid through the feed tube to make a batter. Uncover the bowl and scrape down the sides with the spatula. Drop in the currants or raisins and candied fruit.

With the processor on, add beaten egg whites and the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to form a rough, shaggy dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and rides on the blade.

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