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Easter hot cross buns

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Spring has sprung and the daffodils are starting to show, at least in Vancouver. With Easter coming, why not bake up a batch up hot cross buns. They are easy to make and their spicy aroma will leave your house smelling warm and delicious. There are a lot of variations you can do with this simple recipe such as cranberries and chocolate chips. These freeze well and make a wonderful addition to your Easter brunch.

Ingredients:
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
½ t salt
¼ t ground cloves - you can make it slightly less or eliminate if you are not partial to cloves
¾ cup milk, warmed
¼ cup melted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ cup dried currants
¼ cup chopped candied peel, mixed

Glaze:
2 T granulated sugar
2 T water

Icing:
½ cup icing sugar
2 t water

Directions:
1. In small bowl, dissolve 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the sugar in warm water.
2. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Set aside.
3. In large bowl, blend together remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; make well in center.
4. Whisk together milk, butter, egg and egg yolk; pour into well.
5. Pour in yeast mixture.
6. With wooden spoon, stir until soft dough forms.
7. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
8. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over.
9. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Tip: warm oven to 200 degrees and turn off. This is a great place to let dough rise out of the way.
10. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface.
11. Knead in currants and peel or other goodies such as chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit.
12. Shape into 12-inch (30 cm) log; with serrated knife, cut into 9 pieces, Shape each into ball, stretching and pinching dough underneath to make tops smooth.
13. Place 2 inches (5 cm) apart on greased baking sheet.
14. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
15. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
16. Bake in center of oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
17. Prepare glaze: warm water in a saucepan and stir in sugar until dissolved. Brush over buns.
18. Let buns cool in pan.
19. Once buns are cool, you can either ice or freeze. It is recommended to freeze the buns without the icing and then ice when they have thawed.
20. Icing: stir icing sugar with water until desired thickness is achieved. Using a piping bag fitted with a round tip, pipe a cross on the cool buns.
Note: If you don’t have a piping bag and tip, you can use a Ziploc bag and snip off a small amount on the corner of the bag.

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