Lusse cats, Saffron buns
On December 13, when darkness engulfs the Swedes, Lucia arrives dressed in
white with candles in her hair offering saffron buns and hope of light. Next to the
midsummer festivities and cinnamon buns – it doesn’t get more Swedish than this.
Difficulty level: Time consuming, but worth it. Tricky, but you can do it.
Makes 12-14 pretty decent sized S-shaped buns
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powered saffron)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pkg. active dry yeast
6 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, well beaten, plus one egg for glazing
Raisins for decoration
Crumble the saffron threads into melted butter. Let sit for about 30 minutes to intensify the flavor.
Heat milk to a light boil.
Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm”.
Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
Mix 3 ½ cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs.
Add the flour slowly, kneading, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl looking shiny and silky, but still sticky. This is a bit tricky, but sticky is better than not. Too much flour will make the buns dense.
Cover the bowl, where the dough rests, with plastic film, and let rise to double for about an hour.
Lightly flour a work surface and then divide the dough into 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope,
5 to 6 inches long. With the rope lying flat on the work surface, roll each end towards the center,
in opposite directions, creating a curled S-shape.
Place the buns on lightly greased baking sheets, and garnish with raisins if desired (push them down so they don’t pop out).
Cover with a towel and allow to rise for an additional hour, to double their size, while you preheat oven to 425°F.
Gently brush each bun with beaten egg and then bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 5 to 10 minutes.