If you’re after a slightly less traditional Christmas treat, these fluffy buns with a subtle saffron taste might be the perfect thing to try. Hailing from Scandinavia, the buns (called Lussekatter – Lucy cats – in Swedish) are eaten during Advent, and to celebrate St. Lucia on December 13th. They’re certainly different to the rich and indulgent mince pies and fruit cakes you might be digging into this month, and are a lot of fun to make.
The recipe we followed yielded a butt-tonne of buns, making them perfect to take in for deserving work friends or even freeze for later on in the month. Or, you know, eating over the course of the weekend along with a coffee, in true Swedish fika style.
Making Lucia buns requires two “specialist” ingredients which you might not necessarily have sitting around at home: fresh yeast and saffron. We ordered our ingredients from Ocado using their fabulous delivery app, though I’m sure you can find them in the baking aisles of any large supermarket. Just be prepared to cough up for saffron, the world’s most expensive spice!
There are a few steps that require a little extra attention in this process. Firstly, when melting together the margarine, milk and saffron, you need to get the liquid to “finger temperature” to make sure that it doesn’t kill the yeast when you mix it all in. This may mean you have to wait for the mixture to cool down a little or take some extra time warming it gently to ensure that the margarine melts.
You’ll also find, later on, that you’ll need to do a lot of working and stirring the dough mix, to get it nice and elastic. Once it’s risen over the course of around 45 minutes, the dough should be not-too-sticky and easy to work into finger-sized shapes.
I loved getting into the Scandi Christmas spirit by making up these sweet saffron buns. If you end up making them, let me know how they turn out by tweeting me at @notsoquietgrrl.