Dissolve 2 teaspoons of the sugar into the lukewarm milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and for 5 minutes until frothy.
Add plain flour, spices, sugar, sultanas, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the center.
Add egg, melted butter and yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine mixture slightly before kneading.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 10 to 15 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Eventually, the mixture should not stick to your hands. An alternative - use a mixer with a dough hook and knead until smooth. Add the additional ¼ cup of flour if needed. Dough shouldn't be sticky.
Return dough to a clean bowl, and cover with a clean tea towel. Store in a warm place to rise 1 to 1 ½ hours. The dough should be more than doubled in size.
Making Dough Balls
Line an 11.5"x9"/30cmx22cm (or thereabouts) baking tray with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on the longer side edges.
Remove tea towel from the bowl and punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead lightly to remove excess air, then form into a log shape. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
Take one piece, flatten it with your palm, then gather the sides together to form a ball. Roll to smooth out, and place in the baking tray, smooth side up. Repeat with remaining dough balls. The dough should line up 4x3
Place the same clean, teatowel from before over baking dish, and leave to rise for 30 minutes. The dough balls should be about 75% risen.
Halfway through the second rise, preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Place flour and water in a bowl and mix together until smooth.
Spoon into a large snap-lock bag, and cut a small hole in one corner of the bag.bag
Remove tea towel and pipe crosses carefully over buns. Start at one side and make smooth continuous movements until you reach the other end. Repeat with remaining rows.
Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
Combine the apricot jam and water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds
Use a silicone brush to brush the tops of the buns with the glaze.
Remove buns from oven and serve immediately with butter.
See blog post for additional notes on how to make this hot cross bun recipe.