1 medium egg (50g without the shell)
25g fresh yeast, crumbled, or 14g fast-action dried yeast
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
60g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp (10g) mixed spice
1 tsp (2g) ground cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, room temperature and broken into pieces
75g mixed candied peel
For the Glaze:
50g strong white bread flour
Pinch of sugar
3 tbsp marmalade, for sticky finish (optional)
Method: Pre-Soak Fruit
- Place raisins and sultanas in a bowl and pour over just enough water to cover. Soak at room temperature overnight. Drain the soaked fruit and pat dry, very very well, with kitchen paper, then mix with the candied peel. Set aside.
Method: Make the Dough
- In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the milk, egg and yeast using a balloon whisk. Add the flour, sugar, salt and spices, then mix with a dough scraper until the mixture starts to come together into a rough dough. Add the butter and dimple it into the dough with your fingertips.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead without any additional flour for 10 minutes. (If using a mixer, mix with the dough roller attachment for 8-10 minutes until the dough comes together in a neat, cohesive mass.) It has the potential to be slippery and buttery here, but keep your scraper handy to tidy up every once in a while and the dough will come together nicely.
- Cover the dough with a clean cloth or cover and rest for 5 minutes or so to make the next stage easier.
- Dust your work surface lightly with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 25–30cm (10–12 inch) circle. Sprinkle over half your fruit mixture evenly and dimple it into the dough with your fingertips. Fold the bottom third of your dough circle up and the top third down over it, a long envelope. Then press the dough with your fingertips to spread it out into a rectangle.
- Sprinkle your remaining fruit mixture evenly over the dough and again dimple it in with your fingertips. Roll up the dough from one short side into a short sausage. Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Sprinkle the top with a little flour, cover with an upturned bowl and rest at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Method: Divide, Shape & Rest
- Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
- Dust your work surface lightly with flour and use your dough scraper to turn the dough out upside down onto it, sticky side up.
- Use your fingertips and knuckles to flatten the dough slightly and cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces with your dough scraper. If you want them all to be exactly the same size, weigh them out at about 100g each.
- Fold and roll each piece of dough into a tight ball. Place them on your lined tray a finger-width apart so that they will join up as they rise. Cover your buns loosely with a tea towel or cling film dusted with flour and rest for 1 1/2–2 hours.
Method: Make the Crosses, Bake & Glaze
- Towards the end of resting, preheat your oven to 180°C fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6 with a shelf in the middle and a deep roasting tray on the oven floor, which you will fill with freshly boiled water so the buns can steam as they bake.
- Mix the ingredients for the crosses together in a bowl until smooth, then fill a piping bag with the mixture. Take the cover off the buns; they should be risen, with little to no gaps between each. Carefully pipe a cross on the top of each bun on the lined tray.
- Fill a kettle with water and boil. Pour the hot water into the deep tray on the floor of the oven. Place the lined tray with the hot cross buns on the oven shelf and bake for 20–25 minutes.
- Take the buns out of the oven and, while they are still warm, place them on a wire rack set over baking parchment (to catch any drips from the glaze).
- Stir up your marmalade in a bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush it liberally over the tops of the buns, while still warm, to make them nice and sticky. Let them cool completely before serving.
- Here's a tip from Jack: 'These buns are completely customisable. If you’re not a fan of candied peel, feel free to use the grated zest of an orange and a lemon instead. You can swap out the raisins and sultanas for other dried fruits that you like—chopped prunes, apricots, figs or a mixture will all work well as long as you stick to similar quantities. Or try chopped chocolate or choc chips, especially with orange zest. Instead of the orange marmalade, depending on your choice of fruit, opt for lemon or lime marmalade, maple syrup or honey. Or if you don’t like them sticky, a simple egg wash painted over the top before you bake them will bring them a lovely golden sheen.'