Saffron Buns for St. Lucy (Lussekatter)
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I am so happy today! The snow is piling up outside my window, and I love it! There’s currently 25 cm (10 inches) of snow and counting. Snow is such a calming weather, the snow falls slowly and turns into a sound blanket, the sounds of the town is fading away as the snow hits the ground.
The layers of clothes get larger and the food more comforting. I have a tradition, that whenever snow comes for a visit, I have to throw everything out of my hands and go straight to the kitchen and make some hot chocolate. Yes, hot chocolate and snow are besties. I cannot deprive them of meeting, you know…
So what do I eat next to my hot chocolate? December 13th is coming up close, and do you know what day that is? It’s St. Lucy’s Day (or St. Lucia), which is a feast day. St. Lucy brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Diocletianic Persecution (source). Mostly celebrated in Norway and Sweden, but also Italy.
Although I’m not that into religion and Christianity, I like the food. Specifically the saffron buns. This is regular sweet buns (delicious!), but added saffron and raisins. The saffron gives the buns a really bright and yellow color, as well as a very distinct taste. The taste of saffron is sweet and hay-like, and fits perfectly into these saffron buns for St. Lucy’s Day.
Saffron Buns for St. Lucy’s Day
In Norway and Sweden we call saffron buns for Lussekatter, which probably could translate to Lucy Cats, don’t ask me why we call them cats. Maybe it’s the S-shape that could reminiscent a cat with its tale out like half an S? Nevertheless, they taste amazing and Christmassy.
If you want a more detailed explanation of how to make sweet buns, I suggest you read my recipe for regular Norwegian Sweet Buns first.
This recipe is adapted from Det Søte Liv. In a medium sauce pan, give milk, butter and powdered sugar a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the saffron*. Let it cool to body temperature.
* If you don’t want to spend luxurious saffron on buns, you could substitute with turmeric. The taste will not be the same obviously, but they will get a yellow color. 1/2 tsp turmeric for 1 gr saffron.
When it is lukewarm (body temperature), stir in the yeast. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and cardamom. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and lets go of the bowl (see pictures in Sweet Buns recipe). Place a towel over the bowl and let it rest on a warm place until it doubles in size. Approximately 1 hour. Not everyone does this step, but I think they’re crazy if they don’t.
Take the dough onto a floured surface and cut them into equal sizes, approximately golf ball+ size. Shape them into reverse S-shape and tuck them together (or any other shape you like, mine is all over the place here). Place them on a prepared baking tray with parchment paper. Let them rest and rise on a warm place for another 45-60 minutes.
Decorate with two raisins, one in each center, brush the saffron buns with whisked egg. Bake in the middle of the oven at 210C (410F) for 10-12 minutes. Watch closely as the temperature is high. The buns will get a golden color, and if you knock on the backside of a bun and the sound is hollow, they are done! Cool on a cooling rack. Serve as is, or slice up and spread butter on each side! You could also use Norwegian brown cheese (as mentioned in my Sweet Buns recipe).
Enjoy next to a cup of delicious Rich and Decadent Hot Chocolate!
If you just had a cup of hot chocolate, and would like something different with your saffron buns, I would highly recommend Scandinavian Mulled Wine (Gløgg).
And if saffron is too strong a taste for you, regular sweet buns are also amazing.
Tip for storage: They can easily be freezed. When you want to eat them, just thaw on the counter or warm in the oven for a few minutes and they will be as crispy and tasty as newly baked. I often thaw a whole bag full, and then just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds. They will not be crispy any more, but still the same comforting taste and fluffy bun.
I would love to hear what you thought of this recipe, either in the comment section below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!