3 cups all purpose flour (scooped loosely into measuring cup and leveled off – do not pack!)
2.5 tsp instant yeast
3 TB + 2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp sea salt
4 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
1.5 sticks unsalted butter - cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tsp fresh citrus zest (I used blood orange, but orange or lemon is fine)
¾ cup dried currants
½ cup dried cranberries
1 tsp Vanilla Paste (if you don’t have any, use 1.5 tsp vanilla extract, or seeds scraped from a vanilla bean and mixed with 1 tsp corn syrup.)
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten well, and put through a strainer – set aside
Ingredients for the glaze:
2 ½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt
2.5 Tbsp whole milk
TIP #1: It’s best to have all your ingredients, especially the butter and eggs, at room temperature.
Prep your pan:
Spray a quarter sheet pan with vegetable spray, cut parchment paper to fit inside, and spray again. Set aside.
Prep the Fruit:
Put the dried currants and cranberries in a bowl, cover with very hot water and soak for 5-10 minutes.
Drain and spread out on a paper towel – pat dry.
Return to bowl and mix with vanilla paste and zest and set aside.
Make the Dough:
Combine the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend for 10-15 seconds until mixed.
Add the eggs, milk, salt and sugar and mix on low for 4 minutes.
Scrape down sides of bowl, and mix for an additional 30 minutes.
Add the butter a few pieces at a time until all has been incorporated. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and push any dough that has crept up the hook back down into the bowl. Mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is pale, shiny, and appears to start sticking to the sides of the bowl. Tip #2: you will know the dough is ready when it is glossy, and very sticky. Take your time here.
Add the plumped up fruit, and mix until incorporated (approx 1-2 minutes).
First Folds and Rise:
Lightly flour your counter and ease the dough out of the bowl with a bench scraper.
Using the scraper (as your dough will be quite sticky) to fold over the top edge of the dough to the middle, then do the same for the bottom. Turn the dough a quarter turn and do the same again. Repeat 2-3 times and put dough seam side down into a glass bowl.
Cover with a tea towel or saran wrap, put in a warm place, and let rest and rise for 45 minutes.
Shaping and Proofing:
Turn dough out from bowl onto lightly floured counter. Shape into a rectangle with your hands. Cut the rectangle in quarters with a bench scraper, and then cut each quarter into 3 pieces.
While cupping your hand, roll each piece into a ball until smooth and place in pan 3 across/4 down. Tip #3: at this point you can cover tightly with saran and then foil, and freeze. The night before baking, take frozen buns out, brush with egg wash, cover with another sheet pan, and let sit overnight to defrost and proof!)
Brush gently with egg wash, cover with another sheet pan or buttered saran, and let proof for 60-90 minutes until balls have risen and are touching. Brush again with egg wash, and then bake.
Tip #4: Brushing on an egg wash TWICE results in a very shiny, beautiful bun. The first wash seals the surface, and the second glosses it.
If using a convection oven, preheat to 325 degrees and bake for 17-22 minutes until golden brown.
If using a standard oven, preheat to 350 degrees, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Test the center of the center bun with a toothpick to make sure centers are baked through. Remove from oven, and set pan on cooling rack to cool completely.
While the buns are cooling, sift the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom into the bowl of your stand mixer, attach the paddle, and mix on low for 15 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly add the milk, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix for 30 seconds until smooth and lump free.
Transfer icing to a disposable pastry bag or clean zip lock bag.
Cut off a ¼ inch from the tip of the bag and pipe the icing across all the rows of buns. Then switch direction and pipe in the opposite direction, forming a cross on top of each bun.