The whole city is glittering in the Christmas and New year spirit.... with the roads glittering with lights, malls with X-mas tree decorated so well, all the window panes of apartments shining with a star and candles, shops bustling with people... It is such a nice feeling in the cold month of December, that keeps the spirits up when the days are so short and hardly any trace of Sun and cold weather outside.
From the beginning of December the stores are selling a lot of Christmas goodies, most of them traditional, sold and eaten mostly in the month of X-mas. One of them is this Saffron Buns that the Swedes call Lussekatter or Lucia Cats.
These buns are traditionally served in Scandinavia on 13 December, St. Lucia Day. But people also have it on Christmas and also on other days of December.
They contain butter, milk and optionally a small amount of egg, sweet and loaded with a flavor of Saffron. The saffron also gives them a nice golden color. Seeing them all over the stores, I was tempted to make them too! And here they are...
Lussekatter / Lucia Cats / Sweet Saffron Buns
Preparation time: ~20 min + ~10 min + rising time
Baking Time: ~15 min
- Milk – 1 ¼ Cup
- Butter - ½ c (100 g)
- Instant Yeast - 2½ tsp
- Sugar - ⅓ cup
- Saffron threads - ½ tsp (approx 1g)
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Egg - ½, beaten
- All-Purpose Flour - 3 c (450g)
- Cream or Milk (or the other half egg), for brushing
- Heat milk till it is warm
- Cut butter into pieces into a mixing bowl large enough for the dough to double.
- Pour the warm milk over the butter and stir to let it melt. Mix in yeast (If using Active dry yeast, allow 5 minutes to froth, if using instant yeast, continue)
- Put saffron and a bit of the sugar into a mortar and use the pestle to grind the saffron finely.
- To the milk mixture, add the rest of the sugar, saffron, ½ an egg. Stir. Then mix in almost all of the flour and salt until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Sprinkle a little of the leftover flour onto a board. Turn the dough out onto the board.
- Knead the dough until smooth and shiny (about 10 minutes). Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky (but try not to add too much - the dough should be soft).
- Put the dough into the bowl; cover and let rise in a warm part of the kitchen to double (approx 40 minutes to an hour).
- After the dough has doubled, scatter a little flour onto the board. Turn the dough out onto the board. Fold it in half, pat it down and fold in half again and pat it down (or knead it a couple of times).
- Divide into 16 equal pieces and form into ropes. Make an S shape with the ends curled inside (Lucia cats).
- Place the shaped buns well apart on parchment covered baking sheet. Decorate each bun with raisins. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise in a warm part of the kitchen to double (20-40 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 180C. Just before putting them in the oven, brush the tops of the shaped buns with cream (or milk or use the other half of the egg).
- Place buns on upper shelf and bake for 10 - 15 minutes til hollow sounding on bottom. Mine were done in about 12 minutes.
- Make the cats with a bit longer ropes. Once they rise again, the shapes would be better. Mine looks better before rising, but after rising, they got filled up losing some of the shape. Nevertheless, I hope they do look good!