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St. Lucia Buns are a saffron flavored bun traditionally served in Sweden on Dec. 13 in celebration of St. Lucia Day. The buns are also referred to as lussekatt (Lucia cat). The shape of the bun is meant to symbolize the face of a cat with the raisins as the eyes.
This is an enriched bread with a lot of fat. The end result is a soft bun that browns very quickly. Keep an eye on them in the oven and make sure you set a timer. I learned this the hard way with my first batch. They can overcook very quickly.
Also, saffron tends to be a little expensive if bought locally. Try buying online from Amazon. You’ll be buying in bulk, but then you’ll have it on hand to make paella. 😉
St. Lucia Buns
8 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/3 c milk
1 g saffron
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2/3 c sugar
4 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tbsp milk, whisked together)
Melt the butter in a pan and add the milk and saffron. Warm the mixture to 100 degrees F. (too hot and you’ll kill the yeast)
Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Add sugar, flour and salt. Mix with a dough hook until the dough is smooth.
Cover the dough and let rise until doubled. Punch down and fold the dough. Let rise a second time.
Divide the dough into 30 equal pieces. (weigh dough for best results) Roll dough pieces into strings 7-8 inches long. Form the bun into an S with the ends meeting under the bun. Use a little bit of water to get the ends to stick together. Press raisins into the dough to make “cat eyes.” Cover the buns and let rise for 40 minutes.
Preheat oven 425 degrees. Whip together egg wash with a pinch of salt. Brush the buns with egg wash. bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown in color.
These buns are great toasted with a little butter. They are also great fresh with some jam.