Lussekatter are traditionally eaten on the Swedish holiday, Saint Lucia’s day, on December 13th. It’s a holiday that my family has celebrated since I was little. December 13th was thought to be the longest night of the year. In order to bring hope and light to the start of the Christmas season, St. Lucia is celebrated on that day. Traditionally, the family’s oldest daughter wears a wreath in her hair with candles and serves coffee with baked goods such as gingerbread cookies and lussekatter to family and visitors.
Lussekatter, also called saffron buns, are made with the stigmas of the saffron crocus. It is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but due to the intense favor, a few strands go a long way. Along with flavor, the ground saffron adds a beautiful yellow color to the buns.
If you don’t like the taste of saffron, then you may use fewer strands or leave it out completely. However, this will change the taste of these buns quite a bit.
Although I usually shape the buns into an “S” shape, there are several variations. Some are more ornate, while others are quite simple. However, these buns are light, fluffy, and flavorful in any shape.
Like my kanelbulle recipe, these buns are great to freeze and reheat. Just remove them from the freezer and wrap in a paper towel before placing them in the microwave. Heat them on high for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until warm.
Although I love the more intricate designs (like the one above), my favorite is the “S” shape due to its smaller size. If you don’t split the larger one, it feels like a meal in itself!
Wait. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- 150 g butter, melted
- 5 dL milk
- 2 pinches ground saffron threads
- 2v dL sugar
- 50 g fresh yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ L flour, approximately
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 egg
- Crumble the cube of yeast into a mixing bowl. Set aside. Heat the milk until it becomes about 98 degrees Fahrenheit (body temperature). Add the melted butter to the milk and stir. Pour a small amount of warm milk and butter mixture into the yeast and mix well. Add the remaining milk and butter mixture slowly while whisking until it has become incorporated. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground saffron, salt, and sugar into the mixture and mix well.
- Using a stand mixer and the dough hook, add the flour to the wet ingredients one cup at a time. Knead the dough and keep adding flour until is tacky, but workable (plus or minus about a half cup). Like the kanelbullar, some recipes suggest to keep adding flour until the dough releases from the sides of the bowl during mixing, but I think that's too much. I always stop before that happens, knowing that I can add more flour later if needed. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thoroughly flour a large working surface and roll out ¼ of the dough into a long roll. Cut the dough into 6-inch pieces and form each into a tight "S" shape, spiraling the ends in opposite directions (see picture). Place a raisin at the start and end of the piece. Repeat with the remaining dough and cover and let rise for another 40 minutes.
- Brush the egg over the buns and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve while warm.