Easy Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 to 14 buns. Recipe is from King Arthur Flour.

1/4 cup apple juice or rum

1/2 cup mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup raisins or dried currants

11/4 milk, room temperature

3 large eggs, 1 separated

6 tbls. butter, room temperature

2 tsps. instant yeast

1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves or allspice

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

13/4 tsps. salt

1 tbl. baking powder

41/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Topping:

1 large egg white, reserved from above

1 tbl. milk

Icing

1 cup plus 2 tbls. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 tsps. milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

1. Lightly grease a 10-inch square pan or a 9x13-inch pan.

2. 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.

3. When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine until the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

4. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.

5. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 33/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop, about 1?3 cup, makes about the right portion. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.

6. 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 degrees.

7. Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk and brush it over the buns.

8. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

9. Mix together the icing ingredients and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.