These hot cross buns are light, fluffy and moist. I love cardamom and that's the dominant spice here, but you could replace that with more cinnamon, if you prefer.
I like to soak the currants and citrus peel overnight in juice until they plump up. This helps keep these buns nice and moist in case you don't inhale all of them when they first come fresh out of the oven.
3/4 cup currants
1/4 cup candied citrus peel, chopped (optional)
1/3 cup apple, orange or cranberry juice
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 lb unsalted butter, (1 stick)
3 tbsp honey
about 4 cups bread flour, divided
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground dried ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large egg at room temperature
The day before you plan on making the buns, combine the currants and chopped citrus peel in a small bowl. Stir in the juice and cover with wrap. Leave overnight until the fruit has plumped up.
Heat the milk taking care it doesn't come to a boil. Cut up the butter and stir into the hot milk. Add the honey. Stir until most of the butter has melted and the milk has cooled to lukewarm. Set aside.
Combine 3 2/3 cups flour, yeast, cardamom, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a large bowl until well mixed. Make a well in the center and set aside.
Whisk the egg into the milk and butter mixture, then pour this into the well of the flour mixture. Drain the currants and citrus peel and add this to the bowl as well.
Stir the mixture together until you have a soft sticky dough. Add small amounts of flour to this mixture until you have a soft but very tacky dough that you can knead for about 5 minutes. Take care not to add too much flour. Grease your hands, if needed to prevent the dough from sticking too much.
When the dough looks smooth and elastic, return to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave on the counter until the dough has doubled in volume; about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and place into a lightly buttered 9" x 13" baking dish, 3 balls by 4 balls.
Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
Whip together the egg yolk and milk with a fork. Carefully brush the mixture over the tops of the buns.
flour mixture for crosses
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp water
Combine the flour and water. Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Place the mixture into a small plastic bag. Snip off the corner, taking care not to cut off too much.
Pipe crosses on the buns. The flour mixture will spread a bit.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 25-35 minutes or until the tops have browned and the interior temperature reaches about 195°F.