Saffron buns (called Lussekatter) are a favourite Christmastime treat for Swedes. Light, fluffy, and full of saffron infused goodness, these buns are traditionally enjoyed on December 13, St. Lucia Day.
St. Lucia Day is an advent celebration that takes places in Sweden and Norway. Honouring St. Lucia, who was martyred for her faith, girls chosen to play Lucia are dressed in flowing white robes with a red sash and crown of candles. Boys may celebrate by dressing up as “Stjärngossar” or “star boys.” (Take a look at last year’s Christmas video to see what this looks like!) Saffron buns are a major part of the days festivities and are often served for breakfast by the children.
When my husband’s family first introduced me to these buns a few years back, I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Saffron is a flavour entirely foreign to me (I don’t usually cook with spices that cost more than gold!) But the treat’s unique flavour quickly grew on me.
This year, I decided to treat my husband to a batch of freshly made lussekatter. Given that I am not a baker and did not grow up making these buns, I wanted to find a simple recipe with a non-overwhelming taste.
This recipe from Simply Recipes was easy and fun to make. The saffron flavoured buns are the right balance of sweet and saffron-y without being overpoweringly sugary or bitter. Perfect to enjoy for breakfast or with fika (coffee time). The recipe was easy to double and the extras were frozen to enjoy throughout the holiday season.
So, if you’re looking for a delicious holiday treat, look no further than these yummy, Swedish Saffron buns:
(Lussekatter) Swedish Saffron Buns Recipe:
This recipe makes 12-14 buns. Recipe can be doubled.
– 3/4 cup milk (175 ml)
– 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
– 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup (50 g) white, granulated sugar
– One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
– 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– The seeds from 3 cardamom pods, ground (optional)
– 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
– 1/4 cup of sour cream
– 2 large eggs
– 1 egg, beaten
HOW TO MAKE IT:
Step 1: Combine milk, saffron threads, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small pot. Heat and stir slowly until milk begins to steam. Remove from heat and allow liquid to cool (it should be warm but not hot.)
*Note: 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads is approximately 0.5 grams. If using saffron powder, decrease the required measurement by half (in this case, 1/4 teaspoon).
Step 2: Add yeast to warm saffron liquid and let proof for ten minutes until frothy.
Step 3: In a large mixing bowl, add flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, and cardamom. Whisk together until thoroughly mixed.
*Note: Cardamom in this recipe is optional. The seeds from 5 cardamom pods is equivalent to approximately 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom. If using ground cardamom, you’ll be adding less than 1/4 teaspoon for this recipe.
Step 4: Add saffron-yeast mixture, eggs, butter, and sour cream to flour mixture. Mix ingredients together and knead dough, slowly adding additional flour if needed. Dough should remain tacky but not stick to your hand.
Step 5: Place and cover dough in a large bowl, letting dough rise for 1 hour. Dough should double in size. (Dough can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight if needed.)
Step 6: Gently deflate dough and divide into 14 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, 12 inches long. (Rope might shrink back a bit in size, that’s okay.) With the rope lying flat on the counter, curl each end towards the center in opposite directions, making an “S” shape.
Step 7: Place s-shaped buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes. Use this time to preheat oven to 400°.
Step 8: Gently brush each bun with beaten egg. Garnish with raisin inside each curl. (Poke the raisins in firmly so they don’t pop out during cooking.)
Step 9: Bake saffron buns at 400° until puffed and golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Buns are best eaten the same day but can be stored at room-temperature for a couple days or frozen for a month.
These buns were a hit with the whole family. My three-year-old who (like any child) doesn’t always take to new flavours right away, absolutely loved them. Served fresh and warm, they were fluffy and delicious and oh-so-tempting-to-grab-another-one. Definitely checking this one off as another success for the very non-baker!
If you try this recipe over the holidays, let me know what you think in the comments!