Lussekatter or St.Lucia Rolls – The Swedish Saffron Buns

St. Lucia Buns , Lessekatter ot Lucia rolls - the swedish saffron buns
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Lussekatter  or  Lucia  rolls  are  saffron  buns from Sweden.   These  lightly  sweetened  buns get  their  bright  color  from  saffron.  These are a  treat  during  the long  dark  winters  of  the  Scandinavian  countries.

St. Lucia  Buns ,  Lessekatter  ot  Lucia  rolls - the  swedish  saffron  buns

Some recipes  are  more  special to  us   than  others.  They connect us to  the  culture  and  traditions.  Every culture, every region in the  world  have them. Lussekatter is such a  beautiful  bread  that is part of  the  Swedish  tradition of  celebrating St.Lucia’s  day. These  rich saffron buns are  delicious  with a  mug of  coffee or  in my case   with  a  cup of  cardamom flavored chai. Be  sure  to give  them a  try !!

It is  such a  fun thing  to  make  and  I have been  doing  it  for   the last  few  years  …

Swedish Saffron Buns
Swedish Saffron Buns

A bit  of  history 

St.Lucia’s day falls on December 13th. It  is one of  the  biggest  celebrations  marking  the  start of  Christmas  season in Sweden.   On this day  the  children  serves Lussekatter and  coffee  to the   members of  the  household. The  stories  behind  the  celebrations date  back  to  the  4th century  CE.  Click  here if you would like to know more about  St.Lucia Day.

In the  midst of the  holiday  baking  and   sugar filled   indulgences  these   soft  buns  are  are a  welcome  change.  Frankly I would love  to have them anytime!  The  beautiful color of  the   bread  is  thanks  to the  little bit  of  saffron in the dough.  The  bright  golden color is a celebration of  light  during  the  time of longest, darkest nights.

Isn’t it a lovely amalgamation of   pagan and  christian  beliefs ?

Saffrom in milk for St. Lucia Buns , Lessekatter ot Lucia rolls - the swedish saffron buns

Saffron  is  a  wonderful  spice.  The  color  and  flavor it imparts is  unmatched.  It is  also one  of  the  most  expensive  spices as well. Thankfully  a  little  bit is  all that  one  needs.  In a  pinch safflower  can be  substituted, though it  does  not  quite  have the  same  effect.

In the  picture  above   I   rubbed a  pinch of  saffron in  the  palms  of my hands  and  added  to   warm   milk –  in a  few  minutes  the milk  turned a  lovely  yellowish orange. 

Often  times  I leave the  saffron strands  as  is.  The  milk  changes  color,  and the  strands  themselves  when  kneaded into the  dough  gives rise to  bright  specs of  color  in the  finished  product.

If  you have a  stand  mixer  use  it  to  make this  dough.  It takes  much  less  time,  but  more  importantly  it is  less  messy, as    the   dough  tends  to  get  sticky. 

You can   reserve one   egg  white  for  egg was  or  use a  fresh  egg – that is upto you.    Sometimes   I sprinkle   sparkling  sugar (decorativ e sugar or  sugar  pearls )  over  the  buns as  well. 

Enriched  doughs  usually takes  longer  to    bulk up in  size.  Usually this  dough  takes  1 1/2  hours  to  double  in  bulk  at  room temperature.   You could  let  it  rise  slowly in the  fridge  as  well.  The   long  slow  rise  definitely improves the  flavor.

Once the  dough  has  doubled in size punch it down the dough and divide into pieces ( about 18 pieces  from  4 C  flour  dough). Roll each piece into long ropes – 12″ to 14″ in length.  You might  have  to  roll it  even longer. This  dough is  very elastic  and shrinks  a  little as  you stops  rolling.  Turn the ends to form an S shape with curled ends or form into 8s .  Press a currant or  raisin into the  center of  the  curls .

Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. If desired sprinkle sugar on top.   These  buns  do expand  nicely in the  oven . Place   them at least an  inch from  each other. Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take the  buns out of  the oven  and  transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. These taste wonderful  warm or  cold and  they  freeze  well too.

Here is the recipe – hope you enjoy these buns as much as we did !

5 from 1 vote
St. Lucia Buns , Lessekatter ot Lucia rolls - the swedish saffron buns
Swedish Saffron Buns – Lussekatter
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Inactive Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 40 mins
 

Lussekatter or  Lucia Rolls  are the saffron flavored  buns  from  Sweden. These are  traditionally made  with an  enriched  dough  and  rolled into  lovely S shape.  Saffron in the  recipe  infuses unique  flavors  and  give  the buns a  lovely yellow  hue. 

Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: Swedish
Servings: 18 buns
Author: Syama
Ingredients
  • 4 C All Purpose/ Bread Flour (500g)
  • 1 C Milk (+ a little more as needed)
  • 1/4 Tsp Saffron 15- 20 strands
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt (8g)
  • 2 1/4 Tsp Yeast (7g or 1 pkt)
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Raisins/Currants
Instructions
  1. Crush the saffron. Heat 1/4 C milk and sprinkle the crushed saffron on top. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the saffron is infusing the milk, warm another 1/4 C milk to 110°F, or just warm to touch. Mix in 1 tsp sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside to activate.
  3. Separate one egg into yolk and white. Reserve the white. Add the remaining egg to the yolk and beat lightly.

  4. Measure the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix and make a well in the center. Add the activated yeast, the cooled saffron infused milk, and the egg mix to the well. Slowly knead the dough adding the butter and enough of the remaining milk to make a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes  by hand  or  4 minuts  in the  stand  mixer, until it become soft and pliable. Form into a ball. Place in a large covered bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  5. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 pieces . Roll each piece into long ropes – 12 to 14″ in length. Turn the ends to form an S shape with curled ends or form into 8s. Insert a raisin/ currant into the grooves. Place the shaped buns on a baking tray. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Preparing an egg wash by beating the reserved egg white and 1 tsp of water together. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. If desired sprinkle sugar on top. Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
St. Lucia Buns , Lessekatter ot Lucia rolls - the swedish saffron buns

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