These buns are traditionally served on Good Friday. But I guess if we omit the crosses on top and bake them as sweet rolls they can be enjoyed any day. The buns are so nice slightly warm from the oven and lightly buttered. Or toast them the following day.
For the dough:
- 1 cup warm milk (105°–115°F.)
- two ¼ -ounce packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ sticks ( ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
- 1 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped dry apricots
- 1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
For the topping:
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
For the glaze:
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp all-spice
Make the buns:
In a small bowl stir together the milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let the mixture stand in a warm place 5 minutes, or until foamy.
Into a bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl sift together the flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut the butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Lightly beat the whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast and egg mixtures, add the zest. Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough has formed. Transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer base and knead for about 6-8 minutes on medium speed until smooth and elastic; or knead the dough on a floured surface with floured hands for about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead in the dry fruits and candied orange peel. Put the dough into an oiled large bowl, cover with an oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. After this, if you wish, you can retard the fermentation by placing the dough into the refrigerator overnight; form the buns the next morning. Let the dough sit at the room temperature for an hour before proceeding.
Butter a large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
On a floured surface with floured hands knead the dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheet. Let the buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Make the topping:
While the buns are rising, mix together the flour, sugar, and 2 tbsp water. Mix until a thick lump-free paste forms. Transfer the paste into a small sealable plastic bag and snip one corner of the bag. Pipe the paste across the risen buns in continuous straight lines so that each bun has a cross on top. Bake the buns until golden, about 12 -16 minutes.
Make the glaze:
While the buns are baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and all-spice. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for a minute.
Transfer the baked buns to a rack set over a piece of foil or a baking sheet. Brush the buns immediately with the glaze. Brush again after the buns are cooled. The buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped in foil and put in a sealable plastic bag. Thaw the buns and reheat them before serving. Serve the buns warm or at room temperature.