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St Lucia Saffron Buns – Lussekatter


St Lucia Saffron Buns – Lussekatter
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St Lucia Day is the “opening day” of Christmas in Sweden, and Lussekater are the recipe of the day. St Lucia was the saint of light, and tradition dictates that the oldest daughter would don a wreath of candles and sing to her family while bringing them food in the pre-dawn hours. Saffron scented St Lucia buns are part of that tradition, and the whole foods recipe that follows is my own adaptation of this lovely bun. I’ve added golden raisins, a bit of ground cardamom and vanilla to the dough, as well as offering a dairy free and gluten free variation. These little treats are well worth the time it takes to make them, and they make a wonderful addition to Sunday brunch or Christmas morning. We especially like them served with a bit of apricot jam alongside our coffee, tea, or warm nut milk with Chai spices.

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes


  • ½ cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
  • 11/4 cups organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled or ground saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm or raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 pastured large eggs (reserve 1 of the 3 to brush the buns)
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 4 cups organic unbleached flour plus additional flour for kneading*
  • Raisins for garnish


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, whisk in the milk, saffron, cardamom and vanilla and heat the mixture just until it is warm but not hot. Pour the warm milk into a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Add the sugar, sea salt, 2 of the 3 eggs, the golden raisins and half (2 cups) of the flour. Beat the dough with a hook or paddle attachment until thoroughly combined, about 2 or 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes more.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it’s elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and turn it to lightly coat it all over. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and place it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, approximately 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400’F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it. Punch the dough down, knead a few times, and roll it into a long thick rope. Cut the rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a small, shorter rope “snake”. Shape each snake into an S-shape by rolling the ends in opposite directions. Transfer the buns to the baking sheet. Cover the buns again and let them rise until they are doubled in size, about 45 minutes more.
Tuck a raisin into each end, in the center of the spiral. Beat the remaining egg, and paint the buns with it. Bake them for 15 minutes, or just until golden brown.
Variations: *Gluten free: substitute a gluten free bread baking blend. If it does not contain xanthan or guar gum, add 2 teaspoons to the 4 cups of flour and stir thoroughly. Dairy free: Substitute ½ cup Earth Balance or other butter substitute for the stick of butter. Substitute almond or soy milk for the regular milk.
Makes 20 buns.
Copyright 2012 by Jen Hoy

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