Every Sunday in Advent is celebrated across Sweden, Norway and Denmark with glögg and, quite often, freshly baked Lucia buns. These traditional buns are always served on 13th December, when the arrival of Saint Lucia is celebrated. The buns are baked in an ‘S’ shape, with two raisins, one in each curve – another name for them is lussekatter, as they look a bit like the eyes of a cat.
You will need
200 ml/3/ 4 cup whole milk
0.5 g (or the tiniest pinch) ground saffron
25 g/7/8 oz. fresh yeast
75 g/6 tablespoons caster/superfine sugar
100 ml/1/3 cup quark or Greek yogurt (or similar)
400–500 g/3–31/2 cups strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
100 g/7 tablespoons butter, softened and cubed
1 egg, beaten (reserve half for brushing)
A handful of raisins
Pearl sugar (optional)
Makes 16 buns
Heat the milk in a saucepan until finger-warm (no more than 37°C/98°F), then add the ground saffron.
In a stand mixer, add the fresh yeast and the milk-saffron mixture (again, no warmer than 37°C/98°F or the yeast will die). Mix for 1 minute, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the quark or yogurt until incorporated, then mix in about half the flour, as well as the salt. As you keep mixing, gradually add more flour, taking care not to add too much (saffron is very drying, so if you have a dry dough, the end result will also be dry). Add the butter and half of the egg and keep mixing, adding more flour as needed. This will take around 5 minutes.
When the dough is springy and well kneaded, leave to rest in a covered bowl in a warm place for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead. Cut into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a roll 20 cm/8 in. long. Take each end and twist them back in on themselves in opposite directions so you end up with an S-shape. Line a baking tray with paper, then place each bun on it, ensuring there is good distance between each bun (or to shape into a wreath as in the photo, simply place the buns in a circle, leaving a 1-cm/1/2. -in. gap between them as they spread during baking). Gently press a raisin into the centre of each swirl. Leave to rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F) Gas 3½. .
Gently brush each bun with the remaining egg and bake in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes, or until golden and done. Leave under a damp tea towel/dish towel for at least 10 minutes as soon as they come out of the oven to ensure no crust forms. If you wish, scatter over some pearl sugar.
Saffron dough dries out quickly, so either eat the buns on the day of baking or freeze as soon as they’re cool. I also enjoy them slightly toasted when they’re a few days old.
This recipe is from ScandiKitchen Christmas by Brontë Aurell.