I’m Santa!…No, I’m Santa!
In two days, it will be Santa Lucia Day. December 13th is a day to celebrate the light in a season of long, dark days. Need to know more? Check out this little vimeo:
Anyway, to prepare for this holiday, we thought we’d try our hands at Saffron Lussekatter, or Santa Lucia Buns! These saffron buns, dotted with a bit of dried fruit, are a Lucia staple in Sweden.
The recipe below is a combination of about four different scripts we tried! Try it out tonight or on the holiday!
But first, a few words to the wise, or wary….
1] Saffron gives these buns a surprisingly distinctive flavour that not everyone is keen on. As a cheat, you can simply steep a few cinnamon sticks [or other whole spices, like cardamom] in your hot milk and butter in place of the saffron, removing the sticks or pods after you soak the yeast in the butter & milk mixture and before adding other ingredients. If you’d still like a saffron colour to the buns, just add some food colouring to the milk.
2] For a fun, sweet addition, you can chop up to 1 cup of the dried fruits you use to decorate your buns and incorporate them into the dough after you have added all of the flour.
3] Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the saffron you bought might not colour your milk, and hence, your dough, enough. As a cheat, you can add yellow food colouring to the milk at the outset, or you can add a bit of yellow food colouring to the egg wash you brush on the buns before baking. If you’re not a fan of egg washes, you can skip that step, too, and, about 2-3 minutes before you take the buns out of the oven, brush on some cream or milk, coloured yellow if so desired.
4] Have faith! Even if your dough doesn’t look to have risen too much during the first or second rise, you will likely be surprised by how much these buns puff up in the oven.
The Lunchbox Season's Saffron Lussekatter : Santa Lucia Buns
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon saffron snipped into small pieces and soaked in 1/4 teaspoon water
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/2 c butter
- 1 8 g gram package or about 1 tablespoon, active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour
- additional flour for dusting surfaces and kneading
- 2 eggs 1 for the dough and 1 for glazing
- Raisins dried cranberies, dried cherries, or bits of candied ginger cut to the size of a large raisin, 2 per bun, or 36 total
- Grease a large bowl and set aside.
- Melt the 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan.
- Add the 1 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon saffron in its water, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar, heating gently until just simmering.
- Pour this mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or into a mixing bowl.
- Allow the mixture to sit until the mixture cools to 115F or slightly lower.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon active dry yeast over the top and allow this to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
- With the paddle on low, slowly add the remainder of the 2/3 cup sugar, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 egg, and 2 cups of the flour.
- Beat on medium speed for about one minute.
- Continue beating the mixture, adding the remaining 2 cups of the flour until the dough begins to form a shiny, sticky ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- If necessary, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough until beautifully smooth.
- Transfer the smooth dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl.
- Flip the dough once to coat.
- Cover the bowl with a generous parachute of plastic wrap or a nice tea towel and remove to a warm, dark place.
- Let the dough rise for at least one hour, until just about doubled.
- Line 2 pans with parchment or silpats.
- Remove the plastic or towel from over the top of the dough and punch the risen dough down in the bowl.
- On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, and the halves into halves, etc, until you have 16 balls.
- Roll each ball into an 8- to 10-inch snake.
- Spiral each piece of dough into an S-shape, scrolling the S as little or as much as you'd like.
- Set the buns onto parchment or silpat lined baking pans.
- Let rise for 30-60 minutes.
- While the buns are rising, heat the oven to 400F.
- In a small bowl, beat the second egg with a fork. You can add a tablespoon of water to this mixture if you'd like.
- When the buns have risen, place a raisin, dried cranberry, dried cherry or a small cube of candied ginger into each "hole" in the figure eights.
- Brush the buns with the beaten egg.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- When you remove the buns from the oven, cut away any tiny bits of egg that have dribbled down the side of of the buns and cooked or burned.
- Cool buns on wire racks for at least 15 minutes.
For a fun, sweet addition, you can chop up to 1 cup of the dried fruits you use to decorate your buns and incorporate them into the dough after you have added all of the flour.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the saffron you use might not colour your milk, and hence, your dough, enough. As a cheat, you can add yellow food colouring to the milk at the outset, or you can add a bit of yellow food colouring to the egg wash you brush on the buns before baking. If you're not a fan of egg washes, you can skip that step, too, and, about 2-3 minutes before you take the buns out of the oven, brush on some cream or milk, coloured yellow if so desired.
Have faith! Even if your dough doesn't look to have risen too much during the first or second rise, you will likely be surprised by how much these buns puff up in the oven.
We can’t wait to celebrate Santa Lucia Day with a fresh batch of these buns!
Now, can you say Pepparkaka 10 times without sneezing?