Traditional recipes

St. Lucia Saffron Buns

St. Lucia Saffron Buns

1 Heat milk, saffron, sugar: In a small pot, heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together until the milk is steamy. Remove from heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool until about 115°F, or warm to the touch, but not hot.

2 Sprinkle the yeast over the warm saffron-infused milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.

3 Whisk flour, sugar, salt, cardamom: In the bowl of a stand-up mixer* whisk together 3 1/2cups (490 g) of the flour, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, salt and ground cardamom (if using).

*You can make this recipe without a mixer, for me it's just a bit easier with one.

4 Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast milk saffron mixture, the eggs, the butter, and the sour cream. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated.

5 Knead the dough: Switch to the dough hook of your mixer (if using, otherwise knead by hand). On low speed start to knead the dough. Slowly add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition. Do this until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it.

6 Let dough rise: Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. (Note at this point you can make ahead and refrigerate overnight if you wish.)

Let sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. (One way to tell that the dough is ready is that you poke your finger in it and it takes quite a bit of time for the indentation left by your finger to go away.)

7 Form dough into S shapes: When the dough has doubled in size, gently press it down and knead it a couple of times. Break off a piece and form it into a ball about 2 inches wide (60 to 70 grams if you are weighing). Roll the ball out into a snake, about 14 inches long.

Then Curl the ends in opposite directions, forming an "S" with spirals at each end. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

8 Let sit for second rise: Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough shapes double in size, 30 minutes to an hour.

9 Brush with egg wash, place raisins on buns: Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Using a pastry brush, brush some beaten egg over the tops and sides of the uncooked buns. Place raisins in the centers of the "S" spirals.

10 Bake: Place in the oven and bake at400°F (205°C) for about 10 to 11 minutes (turning halfway through cooking to ensure even browning), until the buns are golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

St. Lucia Saffron Buns

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Traditional soft and fluffy Swedish holiday buns infused with saffron.

And just like that, it&rsquos the end of December, which means that we have one last installment of FAF&rsquos Bread of The Month. Can you even believe it?

And my friends at Bob&rsquos Red Mill are helping me bring this amazing bread recipe to you today, so a big huge shoutout to them for that.

Before we talk about these gorgeously golden yellow buns, let&rsquos recap 2019 and all the bread we made together. If you recall, we alternated quick breads and yeast breads, so today&rsquos St. Lucia saffron buns will be our 6th and final yeast bread to round out the collection.

In January, we tried to scare away the winter blues with herbed tomato quick bread. That seems like a lifetime ago, actually. Did you make that one? I made that again in the summer time and it was just as good as I had remembered.

In February, we geared up for Mardi Gras with a king cake. An easy, twisted cinnamon-filled bread, liken to my cinnamon babka, but shaped a little differently. Is it on your list for 2020&rsquos Mardi Gras celebration?

In March, we kept it classy with classic banana bread. Nothing fancy there, and a staple in our house when we need to use up bananas!

In April, I kept with tradition in celebrating Fresh April Flours&rsquo birthday with a funfetti recipe and whipped up some funfetti cinnamon rolls. Those were an amaaaaazing idea, and I often find myself wishing I had some waiting for me fresh out of the oven in the mornings (funfetti cinnamon roll fairy, are you out there?).

In May, we welcomed warmer weather with strawberry lemonade quick bread. A match made in warm weather heaven.

June brought us our first recipe with Bob&rsquos Red Mill, where I discovered just how amazing their artisan bread flour, the one we&rsquore using today, is. AH-MA-ZING. We made white sandwich bread, and that one is on my list for making again soon while I still have some of this flour left!

In July, we brought more summer to our quick breads and made some s&rsquomores quick bread. That was gone almost as quickly as it came together!

In August, we used some more of Bob&rsquos bread flour for pesto pull-apart bread, which featured my homemade pesto. I loved that pull-apart bread so much I made another one in the fall (apple butter pull-apart bread!) and I&rsquoll be making pull-apart breads for the rest of time, pleaseandthankyou.

In September, I hosted a pumpkin week on the blog, and decided we needed some savory herbed pumpkin biscuits up in this joint. A lot of you chose to make them for your Thanksgiving spread, which I think was a great idea!

I already mentioned that I shared an apple butter pull-apart bread, but that was October&rsquos recipe. It featured my homemade apple butter, a post I updated to include instructions for not only the slow cooker but also the Instant Pot!

November&rsquos bread was a salted caramel banana bread, a twist on my classic banana bread and one that featured my homemade bourbon caramel sauce. Which I have already made two more times since publishing that how-to.

So here we are at December. And this bread (these buns!) are near and dear to my heart.

St. Lucia Buns (Without Saffron)

These St. Lucia buns are not authentically Swedish. For one I have no Swedish ancestry, but more importantly they don’t contain saffron. It’s not because I don’t like saffron. I do! Saffron is fantastic in risotto and paella. To my surprise I even had just the right amount of saffron left in the spice cupboard to make St. Lucia buns. Unfortunately, in my attempt to alter this recipe by replacing the sugar with honey I caused my saffron milk to curdle. Apparently the average pH of honey is 3.9 and if you try to dissolve honey in milk on the stove the milk will curdle. It was a lesson learned.

Sadly I couldn’t use the saffron honey curdled milk to make the buns so I came up with another plan. I made another batch of scalded milk but I added orange zest and juice into the dough instead. Here is a recipe for saffron free orange flavoured St. Lucia buns.

Adapted from St. Lucia Buns from Eat Live Run.
Makes about 2 dozen buns.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast

zest of one orange
1/4 cup orange juice (about half an orange)
2 eggs
5 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup honey)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom

For the egg wash:
1 egg
2 Tbsp. water or milk

In a small saucepan add the butter and milk bring them to nearly a boil (scald the milk). Remove the mixture from heat and let cool to lukewarm temperature. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Using a large mixing bowl mix flour, salt and cardamom together. Add the milk-butter mixture and mix. Add the orange zest and orange juice (and honey is using instead of sugar) and continue mixing. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes by hand or machine. If the dough is sticky after a couple minutes of kneading add more flour a tablespoon at a time.

Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and put in a warm location. Rise for one hour.

Divide the dough into 2 ounce balls (the size of large egg) and roll each ball into a log. Shape the logs into an “S” shape and tuck the ends under making a figure eight or infinity sign. Place the shaped dough on a greased cookie sheet or a sheet covered with parchment paper. Let them rise for another 40 minutes to an hour in a warm place.

Preheat the over to 400F. Whisk an egg and two tablespoons of water or milk in a small bowl. Tuck raisins into the dimples of the dough and brush the buns with the egg mixture. I put my raisins in before the second rise and they were popping out after being baked. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes rotating the pans half way through to ensure even baking.

How to Make this Recipe

The Tangzhong Method

This recipe uses a simple bread-making technique called tangzhong which helps yeasted baked goods stay soft and tender. Basically, a small amount of the flour and liquid (water, milk or a combination of the two) is cooked on the stove for a very short period of time creating a roux-like mixture. This process gelatinizes the starches in the flour allowing them to absorb more liquid and results in a higher rise and a more tender, moist bun that stays that way for a longer period of time. It's a quick and easy step that makes a big difference in texture.

Here is the step-by-step process for making St. Lucia Buns:

  • Steep the saffron and turmeric in warm water and prepare the tangzhong.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients except the raisins in the work bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook attachment to mix and knead the dough until it is soft and clears the sides of the bowl. Add the raisins near the end of the kneading process. Set the dough aside to rise for about an hour.
  • Roll the dough into a 16 x 6 inch rectangle and cut into 16 1-inch strips using a pizza wheel.
  • Working with one strip at a time, roll the strip between your palm and the countertop to create a 16 inch long rope of dough. Coil the ends the rope in opposite directions so that they meet in the middle and form an "S" shape.
  • Transfer the buns to a baking sheet to rise for 45 minutes. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

Vegan St. Lucia Saffron Buns Recipe

For Day 2 of this week’s Scandinavian recipes, I made these aromatic saffron laced St. Lucia buns. These buns are traditionally made in Sweden for St. Lucia day on December 13, also known as the Festival of Light, celebrated in the spirit of Advent and Christmas.Two of my brothers-in-law live in Sweden, so I feel like I have a connection with the country even though we have only been there once. I don’t remember eating any traditional Swedish dishes while we were there, but there are some dishes that I really want to try. Like these Swedish cinnamon rolls – I have been planning to make these for a very long time, hopefully I’ll get to try them soon.I saw these St. Lucia buns for the first time on Gayathri’s blog and thought they were super cute. So when I realized that these are from Sweden, I knew it was perfect for today. This recipe is from King Arthur flour site.These buns use an enriched dough with butter and eggs. I subbed them with vegan butter and egg replacer powder to make them vegan. I also added some wholewheat pastry flour to add some fiber to the buns. These St. Lucia buns are soft, slightly sweet, fragrant and have a beautiful crumb.

I hope you can bring this tradition into your home this holiday season.

Roll into rectangle shape (this is a double batch- you will only have ONE big dough ball)

Cover with prepared filling

Roll into a log Cut into Let rise after placing in pan Sprinkle with sugar pearls and bake


  1. Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle
  2. Combine vodka and saffron in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over raisins and let sit.
  4. In a pot, heat the milk and sugar to 105 degrees F.
  5. Using a Stand Mixer, sift the flour and salt into the mixer bowl.
  6. Sprinkle yeast into bowl, and give it a quick stir.
  7. Using the dough hook, set your speed to SLOW.
  8. Slowly add in the milk, saffron, cardamom and beaten egg.
  9. Increase your speed to medium low (KitchenAid 3). Slowly add in the butter one cube at a time.
  10. If the mix looks too wet, add one tablespoon of flour at a time, but dough should stay a little sticky.
  11. Knead the dough on medium for another 3 minutes.
  12. Move the dough to a clean, dry large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow about one hour for the dough to proof (rise) in a warm dry place ( you can set your oven to 95-100 degrees F. Turn it off and set the bowl in the oven to proof).
  13. Once dough is about double, punch down the dough, knead the dough a few times and then divide dough into about 16 pieces (70 grams each).
  1. Roll each ball into a long thin stick, about 12 inches long. Set aside all rolls, and then roll each roll again until it&rsquos a bit longer and thin (about 14 inches). Start rolling it into an &ldquoS&rdquo shape, curling each end into a tight swirl.
  2. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with a clean, dry towel (or plastic wrap).
  3. Allow the dough to rise (proof) a second time, for at least 30 minutes until saffron buns double in size.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Brush tops of your saffron buns with egg wash.
  1. Place a raisin in the center of each swirl (2 raisins per bun).
  2. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Place cooked buns on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Serve warm with melted butter.

A little something extra: you can dust the tops of your saffron buns with a little castor sugar before baking for an extra bit sweet.

FREEZING: You can freeze the buns and reheat in the microwave.

WARM BUNS: Buns will keep for 2-3 days in a container. Pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm them up if needed.

Another seasonal favorite, Swedish glögg is a fragrant mulled wine made with red wine, brandy, whiskey or aquavit and flavored with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Traditional glögg is also mulled with an assortment of fruit (like diced prunes and dates) and almonds. A glass of glögg will warm you from head to toe and is a perfect beverage to enjoy after being out in the cold. Be sure to serve your glögg in a mug accompanied by a small spoon in order to scoop out your soaked fruit and nuts.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F/43 to 46 degrees C)
  • 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon raisins, or as needed

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add sugar, butter, salt, and saffron, stirring until butter is melted. Let cool to lukewarm temperature, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl, stirring until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture and 3 1/2 cups flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in eggs. Add remaining flour gradually, mixing in the last by hand until dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is very soft.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover with a bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.

Knead dough with additional flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl flip dough to grease both sides. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.

Punch down dough. Take golf ball-sized bits of dough and roll out into snakes. Roll each end in opposite directions to create 'S' forms. Place buns on the prepared baking sheets.

Combine egg yolk and water in a bowl with a whisk. Brush over buns.

Bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, leaving oven on. Quickly place 1 raisin in the center of each 'S' curve.

Return to the oven and continue to bake until golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Try making these sweet buns for Santa Lucia Day Sunday

Sunday, December 13, is Santa Lucia Day in Sweden and for Swedes here in Maine, too. Dressed in white with a red sash and wearing a crown of candles, a young lady wakes up her household to offer them sweet buns and coffee.

My maternal grandmother, Victoria Swanson Curtiss, was born in Sweden and came to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, when she was six, the oldest of three immigrant children who were joined by three more born in the States. Even though she might have qualified as the eldest daughter to be Santa Lucia for her family, as far as I can recall, she never mentioned the holiday.

Perhaps the observance fell by the wayside along with the Swedish language that my great-grandfather Peter insisted not be spoken in the home. Still, I have a recipe for Santa Lucia buns written in my mother’s hand. Grandma was a great cook but not much of a baker — that was her sister Lee’s talent — so I don’t recall Grandma-made buns, and I don’t recall mom ever making them either. Curiosity about the recipe, though, prompted me to give it a try.

First off, why St. Lucia and why December 13?

St. Lucia was an early Christian, martyred in 304 CE, who hailed from Sicily, Italy. She was reputed to carry food to prisoners, lighting her way in dungeons with candles she wore on her head to leave her hands free to handle food. And even though Christians in Sicily at the time were allowed to worship, they were sometimes scapegoated when something went awry. Lucia, who swore to live as a celibate, deprived an arranged-for-husband of her dowry. In revenge, she was turned over to authorities who killed her. How St. Lucia came to be revered in Sweden is a bit murky, attributed sometimes to Viking visits to Sicily, but the celebration seems not to have been widely observed until the past couple hundred years.

December 13 under the ancient Julian calendar occurred on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, which now under the Gregorian calendar occurs later in the month. One tradition reports that a thousand years ago, King Canute declared Christmas celebrations would begin on December 13. As part of the far northern latitudes, Sweden certainly would welcome any celebration of the coming of the light just as we in Maine do when it begins to get dark by 4:00 in the afternoon.

St. Lucia buns need saffron. My mom’s recipe reflects her concern with cost when it calls for one sixteenth of a teaspoon of the pricey seasoning. At that anemic amount, the saffron is undetectable and the range of amounts in other recipes varies from half a teaspoon up to a whole teaspoon. I suppose you ought to add whatever you can afford.

I used my mixer for this recipe, which shortened kneading time. Brushing the tops of the buns with beaten egg white gives them a charming glossy look and anchors sugar sprinkled on them.

The buns are pleasant, and like all yeasted breakfast cakes and breads in the brioche family, have butter, eggs, sugar and milk are best eaten when warm and spread with more butter or jam and perfect with coffee or tea, whether or not they are served by a candle-crowned family member.

Saint Lucia Saffron Rolls

1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan just until warm and remove from heat. Combine 1/4 cup of the milk, the yeast, and a pinch of the sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Combine another 2 tablespoons of the milk, the brandy, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the saffron in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set the remaining milk aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour, the remaining sugar, the cardamom, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture, the dissolved saffron, and the remaining milk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually adding more flour as necessary, until a soft dough forms.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding just a little more flour if necessary, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny , and elastic. Knead in the raisins.

4. Shape the dough into a ball. Put it in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch log then twist ends of dough in opposite directions to form a figure eight. Place 1 raisin in center of each end and place the rolls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of a roll sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. Let cool on a rack and enjoy.

Watch the video: Τσουρέκι (December 2021).