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Start by making the Cara Cara Jam: Cut the oranges in half, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Slice each orange quarter as thinly as possible, discarding the top and bottom ends and any seeds. Place slices and any leftover juice in a medium bowl and add lemon zest and juice. Add sugar to the bowl and stir with a spatula to coat all the orange slices in sugar. Place a small plate or other flat object on top of the fruit to submerge the oranges in liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and let macerate overnight at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if your kitchen is warm).
After macerating, transfer the mixture to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium-high heat. Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla bean and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about 90-120 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a jammy consistency and the thermometer reaches 220˚F (104˚C). Immediately remove from the heat. Carefully remove the whole spices and vanilla bean, then use an immersion blender to blend the jam to a creamier consistency.
Let the jam cool a bit before transferring to airtight containers, and let the containers cool completely before sealing, labeling and storing in the refrigerator. Jam will keep for 3 months, but always look for signs of mold before consuming after it’s initial opening.
Make the Hot Cross Buns: In a small saucepan, combine the water roux ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a paste, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl to chill.
Rehydrate the dried fruit by adding dried raisins, currants, rum and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, letting simmer for about 2 minutes before removing from heat and letting soak for 5-10 minutes. Once plump and hydrated, strain and discard the liquid. Pat the fruit dry and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the cooled water roux with all of the dough ingredients except the raisins, currants and citrus peel. Mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the dough is soft and elastic. It will still be very sticky and will still fall to the bottom of the bowl (rather than sitting in a ball on the dough hook). Add in the raisins, currants and candied citrus peel, mixing again on low speed until the fruit is incorporated into the dough. You may need to use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to incorporate.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. The dough might not double in size, but it should have risen significantly. Generously grease two 9" x 13" baking dishes.
While the dough rises, make the rum glaze: Place water, rum and orange peels in a small skillet and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer then carefully tilt the skillet towards the flame to ignite the rum. Let the alcohol burn for a few seconds before blowing to extinguish. Add the sugar and reduce heat to let simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the glaze is reduced slightly and fragrant. Remove from heat and let the orange peels infuse until ready to use.
Once risen, turn out the dough onto a greased work surface, and grease your hands as well. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into quarters, then divide those quarters in half. Each eighth of dough should weigh about 175g. Shape the 8 portions into balls (they don’t need to be perfect). From there, divide each of the balls into quarters, leaving you with 32 pieces of dough. Grease your hands well throughout this process to make the sticky dough easier to work with.
Use your hands to roll each portion into a neat ball, tucking and pinching the underneath side closed. If any fruits fall out, simply stick them in the bottom of the ball and reseal. Arrange the dough balls evenly between the two baking dishes (you will have 2 extra balls, tuck them in at the top of one of the baking dishes).
Let the dough rise again for about 1 hour. While the dough rises, make the cross paste: in a small bowl, combine the flour, water and butter with a spatula and mix until smooth. The paste should be thick enough to pipe but not runny. Add another splash of water if the paste is too stiff. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
Once the buns have risen, brush egg wash all over the tops and sides of the buns. Snip the tip off the piping bag and pipe the crosses on top. Bake the buns for 22-27 minutes, until they're golden brown on top and the internal temperature reaches 190˚F (87˚C). Remove from the oven and immediately brush all over with the rum glaze. Let cool completely before removing from the baking dishes.
Serve with cara cara jam and cultured butter alongside.
If you don’t have bread flour, substitute all-purpose flour.
If you can’t find Cara Cara oranges, you can use organic navel oranges, tangerines, or any other sweet citrus with a thin-to-medium pith (large citrus such as grapefruit have too much pith and may be bitter).