Culinary Anthropologist

St Lucia saffron buns

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Lovely sweet buns with a beautiful yellow colour.  According to tradition in Sweden and Denmark they’re served on St Lucia day, the 13th of December (also my birthday, so doubly auspicious and suited to baking with expensive saffron).  

They are normally S-shaped and decorated with a few small raisins or currants.  Serve warm with plenty of cold salted butter or, as we do in our Nordic cooking classes, with sweet and salty hazelnut butter!

Here is a fun explanation of St Lucia!

Recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food, with whom I collaborate for New Nordic cuisine classes and dinners.

Recipe:  St Lucia buns

Makes:  10 buns

300ml water
75g unsalted butter
5 tbsps brown sugar or honey
2 tsps freshly ground cardamom seeds (optional)
1 tsp saffron or 2 tbsps rosehip powder
1 egg
10g fresh yeast
c.550g white bread flour
2 tsps fine salt
1 egg for glazing, whisked with a little salt
currants for decoration

  1. Heat water, butter, sugar, cardamom and saffron in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter has melted and the water is lukewarm (not over 40C; you should still be able to easily hold a finger in it).
  2. Pour the warm liquid into a mixing bowl and add the egg and yeast.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add the flour little by little along with the salt and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes until smooth and supple, either by hand or in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  4. Cover the dough and leave it to rise until doubled in size, around two hours at room temperature.  (If you like, you can make the dough the day before, in which case rise for one hour at room temperature, leave in the fridge overnight and then bring out an hour and half before shaping.)
  5. Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan) and line a couple of baking sheets with paper.
  6. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 10 portions.  Shape each portion into a boule, or the traditional S-shape, taking care not to press out all the air.  Place on the lined baking sheets, brush the tops with egg wash and decorate with currants.
  7. Leave to prove for 30 minutes until risen again.
  8. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until golden.  Let them cool for 10 minutes before serving warm.

Read more about saffron here and here.

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