This is a recipe requires 3 rises before being baked. It is well worth starting this recipe in the morning.
500g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
40g unsalted butter, softened
2 medium eggs, beaten
120ml warm whole milk
120ml cool water
150g white chocolate cut up into chunks (a little bigger than chocolate drops)
120g dried apricots, chopped until into six pieces
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 - 1tsp ground cloves
1/2 - 1tsp ground cardamom (or warm milk with crushed cardamom pods and then sieve as I found this hard to find in the shops)
2sp ground nutmeg
For the Crosses
75g plain flour
1 egg beaten
For the Glaze
7 apricot jam with 1tbsp boiling water
2tbsp caster sugar mixed with 2tbsp boiling water
1) Put the four into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side. Add the butter, eggs, milk and half of the water and turn the mixture around with your fingers. Continue to add the water, a little at a time until you have picked up all of the flour. You may need a little more water or have a little left over, this will depend on your flour. You want a soft dough but not a soggy dough.
2) Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin the knead. Keep kneading for 5 - 10 minutes until the dough is silky smooth and feels soft with a slight shine. You will know if I is kneaded enough if you pull a bit of dough off and do the window pane test (see pic). Stretch the dough between your fingers to form a square. If you can se the light though the dough it has ben kneaded enough. If he dough is tearing before you can make a window of dough continue kneading.
3) When the dough is silky soft and smooth, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel or cling film, and leave to rise for at least an hour or until doubled in size. I tend to rise mine for about 2 - 3 hours at room temperature.
4) After the first rise, tip the dough onto a lightly floured (or oiled) surface, scatter the spices, chocolate and apricots on top of the dough a bit at a time and knead in until well incorporated and even. Put back into the oiled bowl (might need to reapply a little oil) and leave to rise covered in cling film or a teas towel for a second time. This rise will take a little longer than the previous rise as it is having to lift up all of the fruit and chocolate.
5) After this rise, fold the dough inwards repeating until the air has been knocked out. Divide the dough into 100g pieces and roll into balls. To make knead balls you want to fold the dough from the outer edges into the center. Then flip the ball over and use the base of your palms to pinch he bottom of the dough, sealing the edges and making the outer skin of the dough ball tense. Check out this video for instructions! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRk96GA_GF0
6) Place each dough ball onto a baking tray covered in baking paper. Place them about 2 - 3cms apart so that they will just touch one another when they have proved (risen in their final baking shape).
7) Place the baking tray in a poly-bag or two so the dough doesn't form a tough skin while rising. Try to keep the bag from toughing the dough. Leave the dough to rise one final time. When they are ready to go in the oven they will be twice the size of the original balls.
8) Mid way through this rise put the oven onto 200'C to get hot before baking, the best bread goes into a really hot preheated oven.
9) When the dough balls are big enough for cooking (don't rush this stage or they will be nasty and dense!) mix up the plain flour with the water and make a paste. Put this into a piping bag (if you don't have any make one using baking paper like this http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-make-piping-bag or I tend to use a sandwich bag with a snip in a corner). Then pipe in long lines across the touching buns to make the crosses.
10) Finally whip up an egg, add 1tbsp cold water and mix it in. Then using a pastry bush (or old clean paint brush), brush the egg wash over the buns, trying to avoid the crosses as best as possible. This will give the buns a lovely colour in the oven. Leave in the oven for 15 - 20 mins.