Recipe for Lussebullar - Sankta Lucia’s saffron buns
Sankta Lucia is an important part of Swedish Christmas, with festivities centred around 13th December, when the saint and her crown of light arrives as a sign of hope for the long winter ahead. These delightful buns are also symbolic of Lucia’s light, containing very un-Swedish ingredient of saffron.
Note: This recipe makes 40 buns. You have half it if need be - or freeze some for later use.
- 50g fresh yeast
- 150g butter
- 500ml whole milk
- 250g natural yoghurt
- 1g ground saffron (usually 2 packets - make sure it is ground and not strands for the right result. If you can only get hold of strands, you need to grind them in a pestle and mortar)
- ½ tsp salt
- 150g sugar
- 1500-1700ml plain bread flour (measured in millilitres, NOT grams. Measure it out in a jug. It’s not possible to give a precise quantity, but a minimum will usually be 1500ml to give a good dough)
- 50g raisins
- 1 egg for brushing
- Melt the butter and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Heat the milk to between 36-42°C. Pour into a mixing bowl, add the fresh yeast and whisk. Add the melted butter.
- Add the sugar and whisk again.
- Add some of the flour, and all the salt, saffron and natural yoghurt. If you prefer a super airy dough, add a few drops of lemon juice as well, as it will react with the yeast and yoghurt. Mix well together - use a dough hook if you have a Kitchen Aid or similar.
- Keep adding the flour, bit by bit, until you have a dough that’s firm to the touch, not too sticky, but not dry, either. Saffron can dry out baked goods, so take care not to add too much flour or you’ll end up with very dry buns.
- Keep kneading the dough for about 10 minutes, then leave it for about 40 minutes. It’s going to be a lovely yellow colour, thanks to the saffron.
- Flour your surface and knead the dough until it’s not too stick, not too dry.
- Divide it into around 40 small, even pieces. Roll each piece into a short cylinder, then shape it into an ‘S’.
- Add a raisin into the centre of the ‘S’ curves at each end of the bun (i.e. 2 raisins per bun).
- Place each bun on a baking sheet, but not too close to each other. Leave to prove under a cloth for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Brush each bun with beaten egg and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the buns, as sweet yeast dough can burn quickly if left too long.
- Serve the buns warm, or leave to cool and store in plastic bags. The buns also freeze well, just defrost thoroughly. To warm again, a few seconds in a microwave or a few minutes in the oven will be fine.