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Hot Cross Buns

Makes about 1-1/2 dozen sweet rolls

Hot Cross Buns are traditional for Easter morning because of the symbolism of the cross. It is a reasonably easy sweet bread recipe to make, so it can be started early in the morning. The entire process takes about 3 hours, most of which is rising time. It is believed that the buns originated centuries ago in England, although similar breads may have appeared much earlier than that. Do not reserve these treats just for Easter. They are great on a breakfast or brunch buffet any time of the year, or for a snack with tea or coffee. This recipe is adapted from one found in a Time-Life cookbook.

Ingredients

Mix the yeast with the tepid water. Combine the milk, sugar, butter and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until scalded, just before boiling (this can be done in the microwave). Add the yeast mixture. Add one of the beaten eggs and whisk briskly until incorporated. Sift together the flour, cinnamon and cloves. Place the yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in the currants and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (I place a thick towel over the bowl to ensure warmth).

When doubled, punch down the dough and shape into round buns about 3-1/2 inches each. Place close together in a buttered baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap (and towel) and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F. When doubled, brush the top of the buns with the remaining beaten egg. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of each bun, about 1/8-inch into dough. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and done.

Meanwhile, mix confectioner's sugar with the milk and vanilla until smooth. When buns come out of oven, brush with the sugar glaze over the cross markings, making sure the cuts are filled with the glaze. Cool slightly and serve.