Hot Cross Buns
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl and baking sheet
- 1 cup milk
- 2 scant tablespoons dry active yeast
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
- Grated zest of one orange
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or Cointreau
- 4 large eggs
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 cup currants
- 1/2 cup candied orange rind, finely chopped
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- Juice of one orange
Combine butter and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. The mixture should be just warm to the touch. Add yeast, honey and sugar and let stand until yeast is frothy, about 5 minutes. With mixer on low add cardamom, nutmeg, orange zest and vanilla or Cointreau. Crack eggs into a small bowl, whisk to break up yolks and add to mixing bowl. Mix a minute or 2 more.
With mixer on low, add flour, one cup at a time, so to form a soft sticky dough. Mix about 1 minute between additions. Scrap down dough as you work. Add currants and candied orange rind. Increase speed slightly and beat about one minute more. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until silky. Transfer to a well buttered mixing bowl and cover with a clean damp tea towel. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour or so.
Brush a standard baking sheet (11 x 17) with butter. Punch down dough and knead a few times. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces - it helps to quarter whole lump and then go from there. Shape pieces into nice balls and place on baking sheet - about 1/2 inch apart from one another. Cover with damp towel and leave to rest again until doubled in bulk (buns will grow together) about another hour. Heat oven to 375. Whisk together egg white and about 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush tops of buns with egg wash. Use sharp scissors to snip crosses into the top of each bun. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
Whisk together sifted confectioner's sugar and orange juice to form a just pourable glaze. Spoon or pipe glaze over cooled buns before serving.