Scandinavians celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on 13th December – the day we wake up early and sing the light into the darkness. Processions of children in white robes tied with red sashes walk through towns holding candles. At the front, a girl – the Lucia Bride – wears a wreath of real candles in her hair. In Sweden and Norway, saffron bread and buns are traditionally eaten on this day, and they are referred to as Lussebullar, Lusseboller or Lussekatter depending on where you are. We also enjoy these buns at our famous Glögg parties – they are proper festive!
This recipe is taken from our book The Scandi Kitchen by Bronte Aurell (RPS, £16.99) Photo by Peter Cassidy – available signed from our online store or in our cafe. Also available in all good bookshops in both UK, Scandinavia and USA.
If using fresh yeast, add the yeast and milk to a mixer with a dough hook attached. Mix until the yeast has dissolved, then add the saffron powder. If using dried yeast pour milk into a bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to activate and become frothy and bubbly. Add the saffron powder. Pour into a mixer with a dough hook attached. Add the sugar and mix together for a minute or so, then add skyr, quark or Greek yogurt, salt and egg, and mix well. Gradually add the softened butter in pieces and begin to add the flour gradually while mixing, making sure there are no lumps of butter. You’ll need around 800 g or so of flour, but the exact amount depends on how the dough feels. 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 buns dry. If you’re using an electric mixer, knead for about 5 minutes or knead by hand for 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 30–40 minutes in a bowl covered with clingfilm).
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cut the dough into 30 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece in your hand into a long cylinder, then transfer to the baking sheets and mould into an ‘S’ shape (see picture opposite). Add a single raisin to the centre of the point where the ‘S’ shape curves (two raisins for each bun). Leave to rise again for 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
Brush gently with egg and bake them in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes. The buns should have a slight tinge of brown on top. Leave to cool under a damp dish towel (this prevents them from becoming dry).