Classic hot cross buns, that can be made with any combination of raisins, currants, peel or candied fruit you like. Makes 16-24 buns.
16 buns - to be baked in two loaf pans (9x5-inch works best) with 8 rolls in each
20 buns - to be baked in a 9x13 baking pan in 5 rows of 4
Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped (or at least 190F when tested with an instant read thermometer). *Check them at 30 minutes and cover loosely with aluminum foil for the last part of baking, if already browned enough. They can seem "done" at about 30 minutes, but are probably not. Baking time should be at least 35-40 minutes).
Allow buns to cool for 8-10 minutes in pan, then remove (in one large piece) to a cooling rack to cool completely. (Do not separate buns until ready to eat, to keep them nice and soft inside).
Once cooled or before serving, prepare the icing by beating together all the icing ingredients. Start with 2 tsp cream or milk and add more, a tiny bit at a time, until icing is piping consistency. Use a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off to pipe a cross of icing on top of each bun.
*Scalding the milk: Place milk in a small saucepan and heat until it reaches 180F or until it is steaming and there are small bubbles forming around the outside edge of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool to just lukewarm or room temperature before using. Scaleding removes some proteins in milk that can inhibit yeast production. While not absolutely necessary, it is always a good idea to do it, if you can.
**To Plump Raisins: place raisins in a bowl and cover with very hot or boiling water. Allow to sit in the water for at least 15 minutes, then drain and dry well before adding to dough.
If you like a spicier hot cross bun, you can increase the spices to 1 tsp of each.
Be sure to read the "Cook's Notes" included with this post, where I share some valuable tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!