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Hot Cross Buns
From Dorothy McNett's Recipe Book at www.dorothymcnett.com. This makes 20-24, but can easily be cut in half if you only want a small batch. Hot cross breads served as a symbol of the sun in early Greek and Roman times. Each bun was bisected into the four seasons, giving a cross shape on the top. Eventually the buns "got religion" and became a Christian bread served on Good Friday with the cross taking on a new meaning. Now, they are back into controversy and even in 2003 a school in England banned serving hot cross buns on the grounds of poitical correctness, not to be offensive to non-Christians. I suggest we go back to the four seasons way of looking at these tasty breads!
1/2 cup warm milk (110 -115 degrees)
Microwave the cold milk 30-40 seconds to warm. Use an instant thermometer to check the temperature to make sure. Stir in the yeast and the sugar and let this stand about 3-4 minutes to dissolve the yeast and then pour it into a nice large bowl. Whisk in the salt, allspice and cinnamon and then stir in 4 cups of the flour. Whisk together the 1 cup of warm milk with the eggs and the soft butter and then add to the flour mixture, stirring in the remaining 1/2 cup flour and the currants. Dump the mixture onto a floured work surface and begin the kneading process. You may need to sprinkle on another 1/2 cup or more of flour as you work, it just depends. Knead for about 8-10 minutes, or until it all holds together and is springy and elastic. In a clean bowl, spread a drop of olive oil and then put the ball of dough into the bowl, swirl it around, and place it with the slightly oiled smooth side up. Cover with a towel and place in a warm draft free place for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in bulk.
Recipe created 2008-03-16.