These sweet “S” shaped buns are traditional for St. Lucia’s Day, the Swedish holiday celebrated on December 13th leading up to Christmas. The Lucia Day celebration goes back hundreds of years, and includes feasting, candlelit processions, singing and much more. These yeast buns are known both as saffron buns for the presence of the saffron threads included in the recipe, or as St. Lucia Buns after the holiday they are made for. These buns can be made ahead of time and frozen if needed.
- 2 packages of active dry yeast
- 2 cups of warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
- 3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of saffron lightly crushed
- 1 1/2 cups of butter, cubed and softened
- 6 1/2 cups flour
- Vegetable oil
- 64 raisins – for garnish
Mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and the teaspoon of sugar in a stand mixer or mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for ten to fifteen minutes or until the yeast has turned the mixture bubbly. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, and two egg mixing on low speed. Add the flour a cup at a time until a dough starts to form.
Add butter and knead on medium high. Add more flour as needed until a ball forms and the dough pulls away from the inside of the mixing bowl. Do not add too much flour, the dough should still be soft and pliable. Knead dough for 8 minutes.
Put dough is a greased bowl cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place to allow dough to rise until double in size. Approximately 30 minutes.
Punch dough down and divide into 32 pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope until it is approximately eight inches long. Shape each piece into an “S”, tucking the ends in to form a tight spiral at each end. Place pieces on baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper, and place in a warm place to rise. Cover and let rise until double in size, approximately 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a raisin in the center of each spiral. Beat 3rd egg with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Using a basting brush, brush the buns with the egg mixture. Place buns into the oven and bake for approximately 16 minutes. Buns will be golden brown when done. Cool on wire racks for at least ten minutes before serving.