I made Caramel-Studded Hot Cross Buns last year and they were a big hit with my kids. Back then, both my boys were anti-dried-fruit. But when I made this No-Knead Fruit Bread with Candied Orange and Cinnamon Butter recently, my eldest son couldn't get enough of it. He ate almost half the loaf standing at the kitchen counter, in silence then asked "What's for dinner Mum?" (he's thirteen... and growing). I thought I'd risk a fruity hot cross bun this year seeing as how we've just harvested the apples from our trees and at least one of our kids might help Clint and I eat them. The other child will just have to be content with obscene amounts of chocolate. It's tough, but I'm sure he's up to the challenge.
Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
adapted from Gourmet Traveller
325g golden caster sugar, divided
1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), cut in half and 1 half cut into small dice
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 cinnamon stick
750g "00" flour
14g dried yeast (2 sachets)
31/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Finely grated rind 1 large orange
380ml warm milk (40 - 43 C)
100g butter, melted and cooled
Line a large baking pan with baking paper. I used a 30cm round pan. Set aside.
Put 260g of the golden caster sugar, 375ml water and the juice of half of the lemon into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the diced apple and diced half of the lemon and the cinnamon stick and bring to the simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 - 25 minutes until the fruit starts to breakdown and is very soft. Strain, reserving the fruit and syrup separately. Put the fruit into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth puree. Set aside.
Put 700g of the flour, sultanas, dried yeast, 3 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon, allspice, salt. apple and lemon puree, remaining 65g of golden caster sugar and orange zest into the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low, add the melted butter, egg and enough of the warm milk to form a soft dough. You may not need all of the milk. Mix on low 5 minutes then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with your hands for a couple of minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a buttered bowl, cover with cling film and leave it in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 - 40 minutes.
Knock back the dough and divide it into 20 even portions. Knead each portion and shape it into a ball. Arrange the balls circles on the prepared baking pan, leaving 1cm between each to allow the dough to expand. Cover with a cloth and stand in a warm place for 30 - 40 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220 C.
Combine the remaining 50g flour with 70ml water in a bowl and stir until it forms a smooth paste. Spoon the paste into a disposable plastic piping bag, cut a small hole in the tip and pipe crosses onto each bun.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 C and bake for a further 8 - 10 minutes, until golden and the buns sound hollow when the bases are tapped.
While the buns are baking, make the glaze by combining the reserved syrup and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir it over medium heat until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. Brush the glaze thickly over the hot buns, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool.