These easy-to-make Hot Cross Muffins are perfect for Easter! Serve these Hot Cross Bun - inspired treats on Easter morning, and you'll be more popular than the Easter Bunny!
Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a muffin tin with paper cases. Put dried fruit in a bowl, add alcohol, if using, and cover with some water until the fruit is just covered. Heat in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or overnight. Drain fruit and pat dry with a paper towel.
Sift the flour, soda, salt and spices into a large bowl. Rub the orange zest into the sugar, using your fingertips. Stir together sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Add egg mixture to the dry mix and stir together with a rubber spatula, until the flour is fully incorporated. It does not have to be smooth, make sure not to overmix the batter. Now, fold in the dried fruit. Divide the mixture among muffin cases, then bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, place 4 tbsp of sugar in a pan with the water and simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes over low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly. Brush the glaze over the muffins.
Stir advocaat or lemon juice and icing sugar together to make a thick, pipeable icing. Use a piping bag or drizzle from a spoon to draw a cross on each muffin.
If you plan to serve the hot cross muffins for breakfast, you might want to soak your raisins and cranberries overnight.
I added a splash of marsala to my soaking liquid - because why not - and it goes really well with the festive spices in the batter. I imagine rum or port would also do the trick. Or just use some orange juice.
Also, you might notice, that there's no mention of candied peel in the recipe. Reason: I can't stand it. So feel free to replace some of the dried fruit in the recipe with chopped candied peel to get the "real thing".