December 13th is a special day in Sweden - St. Lucia’s day. On this day, as tradition, the Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia - of course - the bearer of Light as a way to fight off the coldness and darkness of winter. In churches and several public places you will find choir of young girls dressed in white gown holding lit up candles wearing wreaths of candle in their hair. National television SVT even airs “Lucia”, showing the morning choir at Gotherburg’s cathedral celebrating this holy occasion. Traditionally, in the morning of St. Lucia’s day, Swedish kids will dress in white gown, wearing that crown of burning candles, and come to the parents’ bedroom, singing a traditional song and bearing breakfast of Lussekatter, glögg, coffee and gingerbread cookies. Now, I’m not a Swede nor religious person, but I still enjoy St. Lucia’s day because of these Lussekatter (literal: Lucia’s cats). It can be known under different names like Lucia buns or saffron buns.
Lussekatter is a special Swedish treat that are enjoyed during Christmas season, especially on St. Lucia’s Day. Saffron is used in the making of these buns, giving them a distinct golden color and a special saffrony aroma. Since the beginning of December, bakeries and supermarkets and home bakers started making these lovely buns and selling them everywhere all over Sweden. SO it is obvious that I have to have my try making these babies. As you can see, my buns don’t have a polished look like they are supposed to have. But they are still pretty damn tasty.
There are several recipes of Lussekatter online and offline that anyone can find. But in which do we trust? I felt so lost in the recipe sea and I’m still on my way to find the best recipe. I had my try with two batches of these tasty saffron buns. In the first time, I followed strictly to one online recipe and made the dough without egg and quark. My first batch came out pretty nice right after the oven but they also dry out so freaking fast. I also found that the sugar content was off in this recipe. So no way that i’m going back to this recipe again.
In the second time I added one egg and half a cup of quark to the dough as I read that they would make the dough softer and fluffier. The texture this time came out very nice, fluffy and moist, so I guess that was thanks to them. The buns were a bit sweeter this time since I decided to put more sugar and mix lots of raisins into my dough before baking. These buns are best enjoyed right after baking or within the baking day as they has a reputation of drying out pretty damn fast. Pair it with a hot cup of glögg, that’s the most Swedish way you could do to celebrate this day, and Christmas of course. I actually baked too much this time and am quite certain that we gonna have some dried leftover buns during the weekend. But no worries, I’m planning to make saffron bread pudding with those and hope that it wouldn’t ruin saffron buns for any Swede haha. Anw, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Swedish Christmas saffron buns
Makes: 15 big rolls
- 3 cups flour
- 100g butter
- 1g saffron
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup quark
- 25g fresh yeast or one pack of instant yeast
- 1 cup raisins
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg and 1 tbsp of milk for brushing
- Heat up milk and butter in a small sauce pan but NOT to a boil, put in saffron to infuse the milk for at least 15 mins.
- Let the milk cool down enough to touch, add in a touch of sugar and yeast. Let sit for another 15 mins.
- In a bowl, mix together flour, egg, sugar, quark, salt and milk mixture.
- Knead the dough (either by hand or machine) until the dough feels just a bit sticky to your hand. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky and too hard to work with.
- Cover the dough in a bowl and let it rest and rise till double in size.
- When proofing is done, lightly flour a surface and flatten the dough.
- Mix in raisin and knead a few times. Divide into 15 pieces. Roll and shape into the shape of Lussekatter.
- Preheat oven to 200 degree. Transfer the rolls to a baking tray, cover with a tea towel and let rise till double in size. Remember to leave lots of space between the rolls since they will increase a lot in size.
- Brush with egg and milk mixture then bake in oven for 10 mins or until golden brown.