Here’s another Swedish Christmas tradition for you! Swedish Saffron Buns (Lussekatter) are saffron-flavored sweet buns that are great for snacks or dessert — excellent with coffee or tea. So, try making them at home!
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This traditional Swedish treat is known locally in various names:
- Saffron buns
- Saint Lucia buns
Every 13th of December, Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia Day – and this celebration comes with these saffron buns. Hence, they’re also called Saint Lucia buns.
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- Flour – all-purpose flour is all you need for this lussekatter recipe.
- Egg – you would only use the yolk for the dough.
- Butter – unsalted, melted, and cooled.
- Salt – you might need to use a bit less if you are using salted butter.
- Yeast – as always, I use active dry yeast for preparing these lussekatter.
- Sugar – regular, granulated sugar is perfect.
- Milk – full cream milk, if possible.
- Raisins – just use your favorite brand.
- Saffron – threads or powder would be just fine for making lussekatter at home.
Start preparing your lussekatter by combining a third of a cup of warm milk with saffron; mix, then set aside (photo 1).
In another small bowl, combine the remaining warm milk with the yeast. Set aside until it becomes foamy (photo 2).
Sift and combine flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl (photo 3).
Using a large bowl, combine sugar with melted butter. Add saffron with milk, yeast with milk, and egg yolk. Mix to combine.
Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until a dough starts forming.
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 has doubled in size (photo 5).
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, then roll each opposite side toward the center, forming an ‘S’ figure
Place a raisin in the center of each swirl on both sides of the bun (photo 6).
Place the bun on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Please don’t keep them too close since they will be expanding more (photo 7).
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 one with milk (photo 8).
Place the baking tray in the middle of your oven for ten to twelve minutes — or until the tops have turned 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 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.
Just make sure they’re completely cooled before wrapping them up tightly and placing them in the freezer for longer storage.
These saffron buns are great with coffee and wine — 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 (Swedish Saffron Buns)
- 2/3 cup milk, warm (divided into two 1/3 cups)
- 1/8 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. Set aside.
- Combine 1/3 cup warm milk and active dry yeast. Set aside until foamy.
- On a separate bowl, sift and combine flour and salt.
- On a medium to a large mixing 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 dough until smooth.
- Place lussekatter dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
- Once the dough's size has doubled (takes typically at least an hour and a half), remove it from the bowl and divide it into 12 equal portions.
Forming & baking saffron buns:
- To form your lussekatter, start rolling a portion of the dough into a thin log (like a long cigar) to create a bun, approximately 40 to 45 cm.
- Roll from opposite ends and stop in the middle, forming an 'S' figure.
- Place a raisin on each side, middle of each rolled end.
- Place each bun on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Keep some space in between buns.
- Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside until buns are slightly puffy. It usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
- Brush your lussekatter 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 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.