These saffron-infused buns are an integral part of the St. Lucy Day festivities celebrated on December 13 in Sweden. The Festival of Light, as it is often called, marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia. They celebrate this 3rd century Italian martyr during the darkest month of the year because according to legend she brought provisions to the Christians hiding in the catacombs while wearing a candlit wreath on her head to light her way so that she could carry more with her hands.
Traditionally, the eldest girl in the house dresses up in a white robe with a red sash and a candle lit wreath on her head and delivers Lussekatter and coffee to her parents for breakfast. Watch this video for a short introduction into the traditions surrounding this Swedish holiday.
The slightly sweet yeast buns are flavored with saffron threads steeped in warm milk and then mixed into the rest of the recipe. After rising for a short time, they are shaped like an S and dotted with raisins and baked until golden brown. Enjoy them warm with a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter’s night.
1/2 oz active dry yeast (or 2 packages/4.5 tsp)
2 cups milk, heated to 110°
2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed
3⁄4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
6 1⁄2 cups flour
3⁄4 tsp. fine sea salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes, softened
64 raisins, for garnish
Oil for greasing
1. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining sugar, along with the flour, salt, and 2 eggs. Mix on low speed until dough forms and gathers around the paddle.