On December 13th Swedes all over the world celebrate the 400-year old tradition of St. Lucia, the “queen of light”, with church concerts and processions. The Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden and if you get a chance to visit the country at this time of the year you’re in for a real treat . . . as it’s definitely something truly special to witness and enjoy!
I and my husband lived in Stockholm in the 80’s and I still remember seeing endless numbers of young girls emerging from the darkness of a long winter day, dressed in flowing white gowns with wreaths of glowing candles in their hair . . . together with other children giving out sweet saffron-flavored buns and singing traditional Lucia songs.
The saffron buns known as lussekatter (usually shaped like curled up cats with raisin eyes) and ginger bread cookies served with coffee or glögg (mulled-wine) are very much a part of this festival of light . . . and real favorites of mine, especially for Advent and Christmas.
Every year, wherever I am in the world, I make lots of glögg and saffron buns. Actually, while I’m writing this blog post, I can smell the slightly sweet & buttery saffron infused buns that are baking in the oven and I'm not sure if I can wait until tomorrow to devour a few with my morning coffee . . . while reminiscing about the Lucia festival and my time in Sweden!
Here is my recipe which I hope you will try and enjoy as much as I do!
60 g fresh yeast or 2 full tblsp dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
¾ - 1 cup sugar
2 ½ cups lukewarm milk
¼ tsp saffron powder
200 g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
8 cups all-purpose flour (approx.)
1 tsp salt
Egg-wash: 1 egg
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. In a large separate bowl add saffron to milk and mix.
Melt butter, add to milk and mix. Add eggs, one at a time and mix. Add the yeast mixture and mix.
Add flour and salt and mix well. Knead until you have a smooth elastic dough (can be done in mixer with pastry hook).
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down, knead a little and then divide dough into equally sized pieces. The size of the buns will depend on you!
Roll bread dough into preferred shapes and place on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment (baking) paper.
Brush buns with egg-wash (in a small bowl just whisk one whole egg with fork) and decorate with raisins. Set aside and let rise.
Bake in preheated oven (180 - 200C). The baking time will depend on the size but small buns need about 10 – 15 minutes to bake.
Yield: About 3 dozen but will depend on size!
These buns are always best served lukewarm.
You can make them ahead of time and re-heat before serving.
Buns freeze very well.
©KaritasM – December 2016