Prepare the mix the night before by mixing the stout, spices, yeast and 320g of the flour in a large bowl. Mix to combine everything and leave uncovered.
Brew a strong cup of tea in 250ml boiling water and pour this over the raisins, dried cranberries, peel and apricots in a separate bowl.
The following day, mix the egg and melted butter with the fruit, and then stir this into this into beer and spice batter. Add the remaining 550g flour, sugar and salt. Tip this onto a work surface and briefly knead to form a large ball. Leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil your hands and knead the dough for 10 seconds, leave for 10 minutes, then repeat twice more at 10-minute intervals, then leave for an hour covered with a tea towel in a warm spot.
Using a bread cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 100g pieces (use a scale to make this easier) and shape into balls. Arrange these on a large baking tray lined with baking paper so they are just touching each other. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C before the proving has finished.
Mix a little flour with water to form a runny paste consistency (use and electric whisk to get this smooth if necessary). Place in a plastic piping bag and cut a very small edge off the tip. Pipe crosses on each ball of dough. Bake for 25 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons of caster sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and brush this over the buns as they come out the oven. Serve with lashings of butter.
Recipe reprinted with permission of Castle Milk Stout
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