We've been baking some Scandinavian Christmas breads lately as a change from our usual Christmas bakes. It is so much fun! This time we baked Lussekatter or Lucia Saffron Buns. These buns are traditionally eaten in Scandinavia during Advent and especially on December 13 which is Saint Lucy's Day. Saint Lucia, is the patron saint of light and December 13th was originally thought to be the shortest day of the year so it is still the date chosen in Sweden to celebrate the return of lighter days.
The buns are similar to brioche but flavoured with saffron. They are shaped in spirals with two raisins in the center of each swirl. We made these by hand on a cold and crisp Saturday morning and ate hem for afternoon tea accompanied by a hot chocolate. All 3 girls helped mix, knead and shape the dough - a great collaborative effort!
Lussekatter, Lucia Saffron Buns
1 tsp saffron threads250 ml semi skimmed milk
75g butter, melted and cooled
500 g strong white bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10g fast action yeast
beaten free range egg, to glaze
Heat the milk until hot then add the saffron threads, stir well then leave to cool for 10 minutes so the saffron can infuse the milk with flavour and colour. Strain the milk to remove the saffron threads then stir in the melted butter until completely combined.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and yeast into a bowl. Add the milk and butter mixture then mix until a dough forms. Turn the dough out. Knead the dough on an unfloured surface for at least 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with greased clingfilm. Leave to prove until doubled in size, this took about an hour and a half. Grease and line two baking trays.
Knock the dough back and divide into 12 equal pieces, ours weighed about 70 grams each. We rolled and shaped our dough on an unfloured surface. Roll out each piece like a sausage until it is about 25cm (10 inches) long then roll each end into the middle to form an S shape, see the photos.
Put the S shapes of dough onto the baking trays, cover once again with greased cling film and leave to prove again for 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size again.
Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas Mark 7. Remove the cling film from the trays of buns, brush the buns with beaten egg then bake for 8 - 10 minutes until deep golden brown. We sprinkled a little caster sugar over the buns just before baking to give them a little more texture and make the tops sparkle. The buns should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.