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Caribbean Hot Cross Buns

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Although we are currently in very scary and difficult times, we can still have some level of normalcy and social distancing by baking our own Cross Buns this year. Happy Easter Everyone.

You will need:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/ 2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/ 4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/ 4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp vegetable shortening
4 tbsp softened butter
1 1/ 4 cup milk, warmed
1/ 2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract or mixed essence
Yellow food colouring (optional)
3/ 4 cup dried raisins , (more or less depending on your preference)
1/ 4 cup jam of choice (only if you would like to glaze the buns)
oil for greasing bowl and pan
Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tsp milk
1/ 4 tsp almond extract

Method:

In a bowl, combine sugar and milk, heat until lukewarm. Stir in the yeast and allow yeast to bloom for 8-10 minutes. Place flour in a deep mixing bowl. Add spices, lemon and orange zest, and salt. Mix together. Add softened butter and shortening, combine until crumbly. Add milk/yeast mixture to flour mixture, combine to make a sticky dough. Add vanilla to beaten egg and pour egg into dough, mix well until egg can no longer be seen. Add dried fruit and mix in well. Place sticky dough on a floured surface, using the heel of your palm, knead until dough becomes smooth by bringing the edge of dough into its centre. Place dough in a deep oiled bowl and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour. After dough has risen, break off lemon-sized pieces. Make the dough ball round by tucking it under itself so the top becomes round and smooth. Place dough balls into an oiled 9×13 baking dish, allow to double in size uncovered, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until tops are brown. Heat jam in microwave, brush buns immediately after removing from oven. After buns have cooled slightly, put powdered sugar in a bowl, stir in a little milk at a time until desired consistency is reached, add almond extract. Pour mixture into a zip-lock bag or pastry bag and pipe the crosses onto the buns.

Tip: Place dough in a warm location with a bowl of steaming water. I placed mine in the microwave with a bowl of boiling water. The steam helps to keep the air moist, which helps the yeast develop and bloom in the dough. Making the dough balls round is not necessary, you can just break off the pieces and place them into the 9×13 pan, but if you’d like to have a round shape, take a look at this video at the 2:15 minute mark to see how to tuck the dough into itself to get the smooth top.

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