For the buns:
- 20g fresh yeast, kept cold
- 200ml + 1 tbsp full-fat milk
- 70g + 1 tsp caster sugar
- 400g plain flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 large egg
- 70g unsalted butter, cubed and brought to room temperature
- 40g sultanas
- 40g currants
- 40g dried unsweetened cranberries
- 70g mixed peel
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
For the eggwash:
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp full-fat milk
For the crosses:
- 200g plain flour
- 230g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp full-fat milk
For the syrup:
- 300g caster sugar
- 200g water
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 whole clove
- ½ a vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
For the buns, fully dissolve the yeast in the tablespoon of milk with the teaspoon of caster sugar in a large mixing bowl, then set aside for 15 minutes, when tiny bubbles will form on top.
In a separate bowl, sieve the flour with the spices. Add the spiced flour to the yeast mixture, then add the remaining milk and sugar and the egg.
Begin to bind the mixture by hand, mixing for 4-5 minutes until it forms a rough dough, and then add the butter a chunk at a time, kneading continuously.
Once all the butter is added, continue kneading for 2-3 minutes until the dough is sticky, then knead for around 5 minutes more until the dough is smooth and shiny.
Add the dried fruits and salt, and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 1½ hours, until the dough almost doubles in size.
Pour the risen dough onto a lightly-floured surface and divide into 20 pieces, each weighing 50g. Roll each one into a smooth bun between your palms.
Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with a baking paper, spacing evenly. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature until almost doubled in size. Meanwhile, make the eggwash by beating together the egg, yolk and milk in a small bowl.
When the sides of each bun are touching, carefully brush the buns with the eggwash and leave to dry out for 10 minutes. Brush again and preheat the oven to 200°C.
For the crosses, place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a hand whisk to gently combine all into a smooth paste.
Fill a plastic piping bag with the mixture and cut a small hole in the tip. Pipe a thin cross on top of each glazed bun.
Place the tray of buns in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 180°C. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until thoroughly baked and golden-brown.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bringing to the boil over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and simmer for couple of minutes to yield a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and remove the spices.
Once the buns are out of the oven, carefully brush with the hot syrup. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, split and spread with good salted butter.
Recipe courtesy of GAIL’s Artisan Bakery