Hot Cross Buns began as a tribute to Eostre, the Saxon goddess of spring, from whose name, as you may guess, our word Easter was derived. Eostre's tribute day marked the return of the warm sun in spring and was celebrated on the day of the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The cross on the bun wasn’t a reference to the Christian cross but an even more ancient symbol, a cross within a circle, known as a sun wheel. Thus these crossed round loaves honored both Eostre and the sun. Whatever their origin, they are a tasty and fun tradition for both Easter and the first day of spring.
1Use a bread machine that makes a 1-1/2 lb. loaf or larger. Follow instructions for placing all dough ingredients, except the last five, into the bread machine. Select the dough cycle and follow instructions for starting.
2When dough cycle is finished, remove from machine and place on a lightly floured surface. Flatten slightly and sprinkle with apricots and raisins. Knead lightly to distribute fruit evenly.
3Pinch off pieces of dough and roll between your hands to form 16 roughly equal sized balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm (80 F.) place until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
4Preheat oven to 350 F. Make a shallow cross on the top of each bun with a sharp knife. With a fork, mix egg and water well and brush lightly onto the rolls. Bake for 16-18 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.
5In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough milk for frosting consistency. Blend until smooth.
6Place frosting in a small zip lock plastic bag. Cut a small section of one bottom corner of the bag and squeeze onto rolls to form a cross on each bun.