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RECIPE: How to make Swedish saffron buns for Lucia

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RECIPE: How to make Swedish saffron buns for Lucia
How to make Swedish saffron buns. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
07:00 CET+01:00
Swedes love to indulge on traditional Lucia saffron buns ('lussekatter') on December 13th. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.

Summary

Makes: 12 buns

Time needed: 40 minutes (+ 2-3 hours proving time)

Ingredients

0.4-0.5 g (1 tsp) saffron threads (usually sold in 0.4 or 0.5 g packets)

240 ml (1 cup) whole milk (4%)

75 g (3/4 stick) unsalted (sweet) butter*

500 g (4 cups) strong (bread) flour

50 g (1/4 cup) golden caster (superfine) sugar

1 tsp baking powder

10 g (2 ½ tsp) ‘quick’ or ‘fast action’ dried yeast

1 tsp salt

24 raisins

1 beaten egg, to glaze

*Reduce amount of unsalted sweet butter to 50 g (1/2 stick) if adding Quark cheese

Method

1. Heat the saffron threads and milk until warm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Melt the butter separately, allow to cool slightly, then stir into the milk mixture.    

3. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the sugar and baking powder and mix.   

4. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Keep apart initially as salt can kill yeast. Mix.

5. Stir in the milk mixture and quark cheese if using. Bring together to form a dough.

6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for five minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with cling film or a kitchen towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.

7. Grease two baking trays.

8. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and punch one or twice to knock it back. Divide into 12.

9. Roll out each piece so that it’s about 25 cm long. Shape into tight S shapes. Place on the baking sheets and add a raisin into the centre of each of the two coils. Cover loosely and leave for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

10. Preheat the oven to 220C.

11. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown and the undersides sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

*Sterilize by washing a bottle and then placing it in an oven at 120C for five minutes.

Tips

- The lussekatter are best enjoyed when slightly warm. Don’t be afraid to reheat them in a microwave for a few seconds. Serve with cold milk or glögg.

- Saffron buns can get fairly dry and hard, especially when reheated. For a less authentic version (which is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden) add 100 g of quark cheese as it helps to make the buns softer and lighter. You could also add a tray of boiling water to the bottom of the oven before baking the buns to help keep them moist. Saffron is cheaper in Sweden than some other countries, so why not pick up a few packets if you’re visiting? 

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, Editor and Founder of Swedish Food

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