Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

December 13th is Lucia in Sweden or St. Lucia Day and traditionally you have saffron bread on lucia “Lussekatter.”

What is Lucia?

There are a lot of different version of stories and theories of this.  The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. Thus the name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions.

In the old almanac, Lucia Night “winter solstice” was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.

The last person to rise that morning was nicknamed ‘Lusse the Louse’ and often given a playful beating round the legs with birch twigs. The slaughtering and threshing were supposed to be over by Lucia and the sheds to be filled with food in preparation for Christmas. In agrarian Sweden, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 20th century, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns “Lussekatter” dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.

Picture from Swedish Newspaper

Today, Lucia is a ceremony where a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle “Lucia Train.” The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Santa Lucia song describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness.

In the Lucia procession at home the oldest daughter brings coffee and saffron bread to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter wears the candle-wreath.

If you are even in Sweden during this time you will see the competition for the role of Lucia. Each year, a national Lucia is proclaimed in one or other of the TV channels, while every town and village worth the name chooses its own Lucia. Candidates are presented in the local newspaper a couple of weeks in advance.

Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

Yields: 36 buns | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Raising Time 75 minutes | Bake Time: 12 minutes

1/4 tsp saffron
2/3 cup butter
1 ¾ cup milk
50 grams of fresh yeast (note: I use 2 packages of  0.6 oz)
1 egg
¾ cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
6 ½ cup all purpose flour
Raisins for decorating
Egg white to be brushed on before baking

Use a mortar to grind the saffron to textured powder. Melt the butter and add the milk, making sure that the mixture is a little bit warmer than lukewarm (98 F) and add to a bowl.

Then crumble the fresh yeast into little pieces and add. Then add the rest of the ingredients, adding the flour a little bit at a time until the dough is loosening from the bowl. It should stick together nicely without sticking to the bowl.

Let the dough rise in its bowl (cover with kitchen towel) for about 45 minutes.

Add the dough to a working area (countertop, large table). Knead it lovingly and start rolling it out with a rolling pin. Cut strips of dough, about 10″ long and ½ ” in thickness, and shape it by rolling it between your hands into a sausage. Alternatively just take a piece of dough and roll it into the above mentioned proportions. Form traditional Lussekatter by creating two opposite spirals. Let the Lussekatter rise for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 440 F.

Decorate each individual spiral with a raisin in the middle and brush with beaten egg.

Bake the Lussekatter in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 440F.

Other Similar Recipes:

Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta”
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Popovers with Cinnamon Butter
Christmas Recipes

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23 Responses to “Saffron Buns “Lussekatter””

  1. 1

    Rebecca — December 13, 2010 @ 11:35 am

    Yours look awesome!

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

      Rebecca – Thanks for coming by. Did you enjoy reading the Swedish Christmas Series? I am so glad that i finally wrote it down. How was your holiday?

  2. 2

    redmenace — December 13, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    I adore the idea of saffron in a sweet bun. I’ve never heard of this before, but it sounds wonderful. I have to say, however, I would not even dream of putting lit candles on my head. Cuckoo!

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

      Robin, Ohh you should make those saffron buns. The hardest part is finding the saffron 🙂 The worst part of having candles in your hair is trying to get the wax out of your hair. Today most kids have plastic battery driven candles. Again, hopefully your addition comes soon!!!!

  3. 3

    Splendid Willow — December 13, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

    I ate 3 yesterday! And they had quark in them! (Like the Swedish Kesella). These buns are so good! So Swedish!

    Happy Lucia to you, dear friend.

    ox, Mon

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

      Monika – I have Quark in my refrigerator. What should i make?

  4. 4

    Juliana — December 14, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

    Oh! This buns look fabulous…never had saffron buns, would love to try them 🙂 Beautifully done!

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

      Juliana – Thanks! How are you? Oh these are so Swedish, easy to make. The hardest part is finding saffron 🙂 I have a question for you, will contact you offline.

  5. 5

    Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions — Delishhh — December 14, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    […] Saffron Buns “Lussekatter” […]

  6. 6

    Privet and Holly — December 15, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

    I’ve had the privilege of watching
    a Lucia singing presentation and
    it was magical. I bet these buns
    are amazing and want to try my
    hand at them. My family LOVES
    bread-y type foods for breakfast.
    Thanks for this lovely post : )
    xx Suzanne

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

      Suzanne, Oh that is awesome. Where did you get to watch it. Most folks don’t know or have not heard of it.

  7. 7

    Megan — December 15, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the story and the great looking bun recipe Thumbs up

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

      Megan – So glad you enjoyed reading this. I am just happy i finally wrote it down. Happy New Year!!!!!

  8. 8

    Lombardi Girl — December 16, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

    Wowie. Here by way of Tastespotting and can’t be happier to see this post. Because of snow, I’m off tomorrow. My 5 year old son and I will try our hand with these tomorrow. What a pure delight. Thank you!

    • Delishhh replied: — December 26th, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

      Lombardi Girl – Welcome!!! So glad to get new readers. So please tell me, how did they turn out? Hope you had a good holiday! And come back soon!

  9. 9

    I’m Officially a Bread Baker « verynecessary — December 19, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

    […]  Three packets of yeast later, I was at home and looking up recipes for Santa Lucia Day rolls, telling Matt about how awesome they were going to be.  And today, 6 days later (decidedly not […]

  10. 10

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    Anniversary and Giveaway! — Delishhh — February 13, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

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  12. 12

    Saffron Cake — Delishhh — December 11, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    […] 13th is St Lucia Day in Sweden and traditionally you have saffron bread on lucia “Lussekatter.” You can actually make anything saffron and this year I decided to make […]

  13. 13

    Delishhh » 2nd Anniversary and Giveaway » Delishhh — February 13, 2012 @ 5:02 am

    […] December 2010 – Saffron Buns “Lussekatter” […]

  14. 14

    Swedish Lucia Day | Herbivore Triathlete — December 14, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    […] baking. Put a raisin in each curl and bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen rolls. {Source} Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle +1TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This […]

  15. 15

    Christmas, Glogg and Saffron rolls - Live Like You — December 28, 2013 @ 2:16 pm


  16. 16

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