Today is St. Lucia day in Sweden: a beautiful, reverent celebration of light and salvation. Plus there’s food involved.
For the complete, authentic experience, a friend recommended that I watch this video in the pre-dawn hours, preferably with something warm to drink and these lussekatter (saffron buns). It’s a soul-nourishing experience.
150 grams butter (just less than 1 ½ sticks)
1 gram saffron
2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp salt
scant 3 tsp dry active yeast
scant ⅔ cup sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to 1 cup additional
egg for brushing
pearl sugar (optional)
Melt butter over low heat, add saffron and milk. Heat to 125ºF. Remove from heat.
In a mixer, combine flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and fully combine. Add egg and mix well. Beat with dough hook for 5+ minutes, until smooth and shiny. If the dough is too sticky to handle, more flour can be added, a little at a time, up to 1 cup. I generally add about ⅓ cup. Cover bowl and let double, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. and place the rack in the center. Divide dough into 24 equal portions. Roll out into 8 inch ropes, shape into twisted tails or S shapes. Add raisins to ends. Place on parchment or silicone covered baking sheets. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise another 30 minutes. Brush tops with beaten egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar if desired.
Bake one tray at a time for 8 minutes, watching carefully at the end so they do not burn on the bottom.