Sunday, December 13, 2015

13. Day of December - Saint Lucia Saffron Buns (Lussekatter)

Lussekatter are typically eaten in Sweden for St. Lucia (the Festival of Light), on 13 December. This is a celebration of light in the middle of winter, with processions and candles. Young girls are dressed in white robes with a red sash, with one girl selected as “Lucia” who wears a crown of lit candles, the others carrying a single candle. At home, the eldest girl dresses up in robe, sash, and candle crown, and delivers coffee and lussekatter, or S shaped saffron buns to her parents for breakfast.

My best friend in primary school was named "Lucia" and she was always chosen to lead a St. Lucia procession on December 13th. Whether you are Swedish or not, you should give these saffron buns a try. Lussekatter look pretty, they have an attractive shape, and an amazing color, like a bright yellow, almost golden brown. And as they bake, the kitchen is filled with the sweet aroma of saffron and yeast. Once they are baked, the buns are light and soft, and they have a lovely rich, buttery flavor highlighting the aroma of saffron. They are definitely best enjoyed while still warm.

St. Lucia Buns - Lussekatter
(yileds about 20 St. Lucia Buns)

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
  • 1 cup milk (3.5%)
  • 3/4 cup superfine (baking) sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp) or use fresh yeast
  • 6 1/2 cups AP (plain) flour
  • 2 eggs, (L), organic or free range, well-beaten, plus one egg white
  • a few raisins to decorate
  1. Crumble saffron threads into melted butter.
  2. Let sit about 30 minutes to an hour (this intensifies the saffron flavor).
  3. Heat milk to a light boil, turning off heat when it reaches the scalding point (with small bubbles across the top).
  4. Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt.
  5. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch).
  6. Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  8. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  9. Punch down risen dough. Lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough (about the size of a racquetball) and roll into "snakes." Shape snakes into "S"-shaped buns. 
  10. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Cover with the tea towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about another hour).
  12. When ready to bake your Lussekatter, make sure to pre-heat your oven to 190° C  (375º F).
  13. Decorate Lussekatter with raisins, brush with egg white, and bake your preheated oven at 190° C  (375º F) for about 15 minutes, or just until brown.
  14. Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy while still warm (if possible).

While Lussekatter are traditionally eaten on Saint Lucia's Day on December 13th, these buttery saffron buns make fabulous year-round treats, as they are are fantastic if eaten while still warm with a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of mulled wine.

Please make sure to drop by again for my next special surprise in my Virtual Advent Calendar!


  1. I've never heard of these before Andrea, but they sound fantastic. Love the yellow color, so warm and pretty!

  2. Hi Andrea, your Saint Lucia buns look fabulous and I love the added touch in your story on your best childhood friends annual role as Lucia. Saffron is such an intriguing spice in scent and flavor and I'll bet these are quite tasty, especially hot out of the oven!

  3. I made these once for a Swedish friend who was visiting. I think she told me they were a Swedish specialty, but apparently, they follow Saint Lucia wherever sho goes! Yours, as always, look perfect!

  4. As gorgeous as my dear friend! Didn't know you were a fan of saffron. I could eat it every day and not get sick of it. Wishing you and your sweet family a wonderful Christmas and may 2016 fill your days with happiness! xoxo

  5. Somehow I have never had saffron in bread...they sure look the color of it!

  6. Andrea, a long time ago due to an old relationship, I spent lots of time in Sweden! All things Swedish still have a special place in my heart :) This a beautiful post and those buns look perfect!

  7. Happy Saint Lucia Day! My son tired these in his class, his teacher celebrates with her children every year at the school and they all enjoy it! Happy feasting!

  8. Happy Saint Lucia Day! My son tired these in his class, his teacher celebrates with her children every year at the school and they all enjoy it! Happy feasting!