400g (or 2 mugs) strong white flour
25g mixed peel
To make a deluxe version of this recipe I would:
Double the amount of fruit and use a mixture of different fruits, such as chopped apricots, cranberries, etc. I would place all the fruit - including the mixed peel - in a jam jar, cover with red wine and leave in the fridge overnight - or for a couple of days. When I come to use the fruit I would drain off the wine - which is now a dessert wine - and drink it later.
Double the amount of spice.
Add some grated orange or lemon (or both).
(Having said all that, if my daughter's around, I have to make them with chocolate chips and leave out the spice! Kids, eh?)
I would also use the undercover (cloche) method to bake these buns. 5 minutes under the cover, then about 10-12 minutes with the cover removed.
When I used to make bread and buns for the Taunton WI shop (now called Country Shops) and friends, the buns I was able to make in the baker's ovens I used to borrow were absolutely superb. I was reminded of this when I met Pat and Colin in town this afternoon (20/1/11) - they used to be among my customers.
These days, I can't make them as good using a domestic oven. However, you can get close to it by putting them undercover for the first few minutes of baking.
Listening to Women's Hour about 30 years ago I was intrigued to hear that the crosses on sweet buns pre-dated Christianity in Britain. Not being a Christian I was quite pleased to hear that!
You'll notice there's no pastry cross on my buns. They are a total waste of time IMO! When my dad made HCBs, it was my job, every hot cross bun day (the day before Good Friday), to stamp a cross in the top of each bun with a metal cutter. 24 to a tray, several trays to the batch.
When the buns came out of the oven, I had to give each one a sugar glaze.
For my labours I was allowed to eat one bun from each batch - and one year my dad made 13 batches!
Finally, any hot cross bun recipe is the basis for half a dozen or more other fruit breads, using different techniques. Check out this post - Now you've made Hot Cross Buns.