These are a very English invention, and a very tasty one. Fitzbillies in Cambridge are famous for theirs, but when I was in New Zealand last year, I came across a cafe called Provisions, whose sign outside spoke for itself:
These are neither one’s recipe, but just as delicious.
500g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
7g fast action dried yeast
Vegetable oil, for greasing
150g brown sugar
250g mixed fruit (peel, sultanas etc)
1 ½ cinnamon
1 mixed spice
1 ½ tbsp sugar
1 ½ tbsp water
1 ½ tsp powdered gelatine
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.
Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm. Add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture and stir until you reach a soft dough (you may need to add a little extra flour).
Tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Knead for 5 mins, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a big bowl with a little vegetable oil and place the dough in, covered with a damp teatowel. Set aside for 1-2 hours in a warm place, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Cream together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the spices, beat in well, and stir in the mixed fruit. Set aside.
Knock down the dough to its original size and briefly knead on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 0.5cm thick.
Spread the filling across the whole rectangle, covering it right up to the corners. Roll up the dough into a tight cylinder and cut it into slices 2.5cm thick.
Grease two round sandwich tins with butter, and place the slices in rings in each. Cover with a teatowel and set aside to rise for 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Bake the buns for 15-20 mins or until risen and golden brown. Towards the end of the baking time, make the glaze by gently heating all the ingredients until the sugar and gelatine are dissolved, stirring gently.
Don’t let it cook for too long, or it gets sticky and hard to work with. Brush over the buns while they’re still hot.
Let them cool in the tin for 5 mins, then turn onto a wire rack.