There is a little work, or rather time, involved in making these as the dough needs to prove twice, but the result is well worth it. They’re fruit-rich and spicy but still have a lovely light texture.
Soak the currants, sultanas and peel in hot water for 30 minutes then drain. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix the vegetable oil, sugar and egg together.
Combine all of the dry ingredients with the soaked fruit in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mix to the sugar mix, whisk and then stir this through the dry ingredients. With the dough hook attached, mix for 6 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Tip the dough out onto a clean surface and knead a couple of times. Return to the bowl in a smooth ball and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Once proved, tip the dough onto a clean surface, knock back gently and cut into 12 pieces. Press each piece into the cup of your hand and roll in a circular motion on the bench, or in your hand, to form an even ball. Place the balls on a baking tray with approx 2cm spaces between them, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise and expand so that the balls are touching each other – this could take 20-40 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is.
While the buns are rising, whisk 120g flour with 120ml water to a smooth paste – if too sticky, add a little more water. Place in a piping bag with a fine nozzle and, once fully risen, pipe the crosses – it is easier to do this in lines the whole length and width rather than individually.
Bake the buns in a preheated oven at 220°C for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C and cook for another 10 minutes. Eat these fresh from the oven or have them toasted with plenty of butter.
To make a glaze for the buns, add 60g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of mixed spice and 55ml of water to a small pot and bring to the boil for 2 minutes, then brush over the hot buns. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Tip: don’t halve this recipe as it doesn’t perform well, just throw the extra buns in the freezer or share with your (grateful) neighbours.