Hot Cross Buns: In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, heat the milk until lukewarm (about 100 degrees F or 38 degrees C). Add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Meanwhile in the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Once the yeast is foamy, gradually add to the flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the melted butter and egg and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on medium low speed, with the dough hook, gradually add the candied and dried fruit and continue to knead the dough until it is silky smooth and elastic. Add more flour if necessary.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough once, so the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours).
When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (Place three buns to a row, four rows altogether. They should be spaced so they have enough room to double in size.) Make an egg wash of one beaten egg with 1 tablespoon milk, and brush the tops of the buns with the wash. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with a nonstick cooking spray, and place lightly over the buns. Place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, and with clean kitchen shears (or a a sharp, lightly greased knife), cut a ‘cross’ in the top of each bun. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
Glaze: Combine the confectioners sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Place the glaze in a paper cone or a small plastic bag. Cut the end of the cone or bag and pipe a ‘cross’ on the top of each bun.
Makes 12 buns.