Tomorrow is St. Lucia Day, December 13th. If you are not familiar with the holiday, it's a Swedish holiday that honors Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy. Saint Lucia was said to be a young girl who brought food to persecuted Christians and wore candles in her hair so that her hands would be free. Today that translates into the eldest daughter of a family bringing food, traditionally saffron buns, to her parents while wearing a wreath of candles in her hair.
Here's a picture of my niece on St. Lucia Day last year.
Even though my family is half Swedish, we have never really done a whole lot with this holiday, but that doesn't mean I can't have a reason to bake up some delicious buns. And the same can go for you, too! It's never too late to start a tradition.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but this recipe only calls for a little bit. But if you don't feel like dropping the big bucks on the saffron, you could always substitute with cardamom and some yellow food coloring.
I made this buns while on vacation in a hotel, so they are not quite up to the par that I would like them looks wise, but they still tasted delicious. They are just slightly sweet, so you don't feel like you are overdoing it if you eat these for breakfast.
slightly adapted from Swedish Baking by Gorel Kristina Naslund
makes 20 buns
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup cream
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron
4 cups sifted flour
beaten egg (for egg wash)
In large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Melt the butter. Stir in the cream and pour the lukewarm mixture into the yeast. Beat in the sugar, salt, egg, and saffron. Gradually stir in the flour and work the dough until smooth. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and shiny. Pinch off small pieces of dough; shape into 1/2-inch wide strips about 7 inches long. Shape into any of the figures shown in this post.
Place buns on baking sheet and cover with towel. Let rise until double, about 2 hours. Garnish with a raisin in each curl (push down really hard or the raisins will pop out while baking) and brush with beaten egg. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
If you don't have plans for tomorrow, you've got them now! Get to baking! :)