Here’s another Swedish Christmas tradition for you! Lussekatter (or St. Lucia Buns) are saffron-flavored sweet buns that are great for snacks or dessert — excellent with coffee or tea. So, try making them at home!
As much as I love making kanelbullar and Swedish cardamom cake the whole year round, these lussekatter take center stage during the holidays.
What are lussekatter?
Lussekatter are soft, sweet bread — deliciously flavored with saffron.
It’s a traditional Swedish Christmas treat known by various names:
- St. Lucia buns
- Saffron buns
Every 13th of December, Sweden celebrate St. Lucia Day – and this celebration comes with these saffron buns. Hence, they’re also called St Lucia buns.
Like Swedish cinnamon rolls, lussekatter are also perfect for fika.
And for dessert? Serve them with some glögg (Swedish mulled wine) — trust me, that combo is like getting a warm hug from a friend. 🙂
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- Flour – you only need all-purpose flour for this lussekatter recipe.
- Butter – unsalted, melted, and cooled.
- Yeast – I typically use active dry yeast for making St. Lucia buns.
- Eggs – medium-sized (63 to 73 grams); only the yolk would be added to the dough.
- Salt – just use your favorite brand.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar works great for lussekatter.
- Milk – full cream milk, if possible.
- Raisins – you only need a handful; two pieces of raisins for each saffron bun.
- Saffron – saffron threads or powder would be fine; use whatever is easier to purchase.
Start preparing your lussekatter by combining a third cup of warm milk with saffron.
Mix and set aside (photo 1).
In another small bowl, combine the remaining warm milk with the yeast and set aside until it becomes foamy.
Sift flour and salt into a medium-sized bowl (photo 2).
Using a large bowl, combine sugar with melted butter.
Add saffron with milk, yeast mixture, and egg yolk — mix to combine.
Add the sifted dry ingredients (photo 3)
Mix until a dough starts forming, and continue kneading until you get a smooth dough.
Form your lussekatter dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl (photo 4).
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until it doubles in size.
Uncover and cut the dough into twelve equal portions.
Form your lussekatter by rolling each portion into a thin log, about forty to forty-five cm in length (photo 5).
Roll each opposite side toward the center, forming an ‘S’ figure (photo 6).
Place a raisin in the center of each swirl on both sides of the bun (photo 7).
Arrange your St. Lucia buns on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet — make sure there’s space in between.
Cover the baking tray with a kitchen cloth and set aside until the saffron buns turn puffy (it generally takes thirty to sixty minutes).
Once your lussekatter are almost ready, preheat your oven to 200°C (375°F).
Remove the cover from the buns and brush each with milk (photo 8).
Place the baking tray in the middle of your oven for ten to twelve minutes — or until the tops turn golden.
Take your freshly baked lussekatter out of the oven and serve immediately.
- You can use a stand-mixer or manually knead the lussekatter dough — it’s quite easy to handle, so kneading with your hands is a great option.
- Since it’s not a sticky dough, there is no need to add (or dust) extra flour when forming the buns.
- When you roll the lussekatter log from both ends to form the ‘S,’ make sure it’s not too tight. The rolls on both sides should not rise too high once baked.
Ensure they’re completely cooled before wrapping them up tightly and placing them in the freezer for longer storage.
Lussekatter are great with coffee and tea — or with mulled wine.
If you’ve got leftovers, heat them in the microwave for about fifteen seconds, and enjoy!
See how easy it is to prepare lussekatter? It doesn’t matter if it’s not Santa Lucia day on your part of the world; give them a try this weekend!
Lussekatter Recipe (St. Lucia Buns)
- 2/3 cup milk, warm (divided into two 1/3 cups)
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp saffron
- 1 & 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sugar, heaping
- 50 grams butter, unsalted & melted (about 5 tbsp)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 24 pcs raisins
- 2 tbsp milk, for brushing buns
Making lussekatter dough:
- Combine 1/3 cup warm milk and saffron, then set aside.
- Combine 1/3 cup warm milk and active dry yeast; set aside until foamy.
- Using a medium-sized bowl, sift and combine flour and salt.
- In a separate and larger bowl, mix sugar and melted butter.
- Add egg yolk, saffron & milk mixture, and yeast mixture; mix to combine.
- Add sifted flour and salt. Mix to form a dough.
- Knead your lussekatter dough until smooth.
- Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside until it doubles in size.
Forming & baking saffron buns:
- Remove your lussekatter dough from the bowl and divide it into 12 equal portions.
- Roll each portion into a thin log (like a long cigar) to create a bun, approximately 40 to 45 cm.
- Start rolling from opposite ends and stop in the middle, forming an 'S' figure.
- Place a raisin on each side, middle of each rolled end.
- Place your St. Lucia buns on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet — keep some space between buns.
- Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside until the lussekatter are slightly puffy. (It usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (375°F).
- Brush the buns with milk.
- Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the buns' tops have turned slightly golden.
- Remove the tray from the oven and serve your lussekatter immediately.
- Cook’s Tip #1: You can use saffron threads or saffron powder; they’re both excellent for this lussekatter recipe.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Manual kneading of the dough is ok if you don’t have a stand mixer.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Since the lussekatter dough is not sticky, there is no need to use extra flour when rolling to prepare the buns.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Make sure you don’t roll the buns too tight — these saffron buns should not rise too high once baked.
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