Hot Cross Buns
¼ cup apple juice or rum
½ cup dried fruit
½ cup raisins or dried currants
1 1/c cups milk ~ room temperature
2 large eggs ~ plus 1 egg yolk ~ save the white for the topping
6 Tablespoons butter -- at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
l1/4 cup light brown sugar -- packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves or allspice
¼ cup nutmeg
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
4 ½ cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg white -- reserved from above milk
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons milk -- or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing
Lightly grease a 10" square pan or 9" x 13" pan.
Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to "shrink wrap" itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid.
Keep the fruit set aside. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix together all of the remaining dough ingredients (including the eggs and the egg yolk from the separated egg). Knead the mixture, using an electric mixer or bread machine, until the dough is soft and elastic. It'll be very slack, sticking to the bottom of the bowl and your hands as you work with it (greasing your hands helps). Mix in the cooled fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.
Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You'll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.
Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they've puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.