This centuries-old recipe is so popular we're still singing about it in a nursery rhyme. The yeasty spice-and-dried-fruit buns are eaten in England on Good Friday, and hanging one in your home on the holiday is said to ward off bad luck. Our recipe offers an afternoon of time-honored pleasures: mixing, kneading, shaping the buns, and last but not least, filling the kitchen with the unmistakable aroma of baking bread.
Judith Fertig is the author of "200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl" (Robert Rose).
In a glass 2-cup measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the milk, butter, and sugar and microwave on high until the butter has melted and the milk is just bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the water and set the mixture aside until it's lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg until well blended and set the mixture aside.
In a large bowl, mix the yeast, flour, salt, cinnamon, and currants. Add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 3 to 4 minutes (see Kneading Know-how). If the dough is too sticky, you can add more flour as you go. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down the dough in the bowl, then transfer it to a floured surface. Cover the dough and let it rest 10 minutes more.
Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. To form rolls, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the pan. Cover the rolls with a tea towel and let them rise at room temperature until they have doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375°.
Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and water in a small bowl. Brush the top of each roll with the wash.
Bake the rolls until brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
In a small bowl, make the icing by whisking together the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Spoon the icing into a ziplock bag. Snip a corner from the bag and squeeze an icing cross onto each bun. Makes 12 buns.
Per serving (1 bun):
Calories 243 ● Total Fat 4 g (7% DV) ● Saturated Fat 2 g (11% DV) ● Cholesterol 44 mg (15% DV) ● Sodium 238 mg (10% DV) ●
Total Carbohydrate 45 g (15% DV) ● Fiber 2 g (6% DV) ● Sugars 19 g ● Protein 6 g (11% DV)