Every December, Swedes travels to our shop from afar to get hold of saffron powder so they can make Lucia buns. Saffron powder is ground saffron and gives off a very intense yellow colour and flavour. If you cannot get hold of saffron powder, use strands but grind them slightly and infuse them in the milk before using to maximise the colour.
Saffron buns are eaten all throughout December – but mainly for the day of St Lucia on 13th December.
You can shape the buns into the traditional ‘S’ shape or even make a saffron plaited loaf.
Our Bronte is Danish and likes to cut her saffron bun open and spread with butter. All Swedes laugh at her in disbelief. She doesn’t care because it’s really really nice. But if you chose to do it, don’t tell the Swedes or they may deport you to Lapland or something.
1g saffron powder (2 sachets) (if using strands, grind and soak in the milk beforehand)
400ml whole milk
130g caster sugar
200ml plain Quark or greek yoghurt (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
175g butter (soft and room temperature)
Approximately 700-800g plain bread flour such as – Vetemjöl or strong Canadian Bread Flour
Handful of raisins
Egg for brushing
Heat the milk to about 38°C. Add the yeast and milk to a mixer with a dough attachment. Mix until the yeast has dissolved, then add the saffron powder.
Add the sugar, salt, quark and mix well. Begin to add the flour gradually while mixing, and egg. Add the softened butter. Keep adding flour until you have the right consistency. Keep mixing until you have a dough that is still sticky, but doesn’t stick to your finger too much when you poke it. Too much flour makes the saffron buns dry out quickly. If you’re using an electric mixer, leave it to knead for about 5 minutes, or knead by hand for 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.
Knead by hand, using just enough flour that you’re able to work with the dough but it doesn’t stick. Add enough flour to make it so that you are just able to work with the dough in your hands. Cut the dough into around 24 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece in your hand into a cylinder, then transfer to a lined baking tray and mould into an ‘S’ shape (see the picture). Add a single raisin to the centre of where the ‘S’ shape curves (two raisins for each bun) and leave to rise again for around 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°c. then brush gently with egg and pop them in the hot oven for around 10-12 minutes. The buns should have a very slight tinge of brown on top, but not so much that it stops the nice yellow colour from showing. Turn down the heat a bit if you find the buns are getting too brown.
Leave to cool under a damp tea towel (this prevents them from going dry) as soon as you take them out of the oven.