Swedish Saffron Buns (Lussekatter or Lussebullar)
Updated: Mar 17
These golden saffron-infused sweet yeast rolls are a Swedish favorite traditionally eaten on December 13th to celebrate St. Lucia Day, a winter solstice celebration to mark the start of Christmas celebrations. Saffron gives these light, fluffy, and buttery buns a beautiful warm golden color that is accented and sweetened by dark raisins. Great for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, these rich, tasty buns, similar to teacakes, are a lovely tradition.
"S" shape, above (bottom)
Spiral shape, above (bottom right and top right)
Scroll shape, above (bottom and middle)
"S" shape, above
Spiral shape, above
Scroll shape, above
I remember making these buns with my mom as a kid, using this recipe which was passed down to us from my mom's friend.
Makes 13 buns
Swedish Saffron Buns
¼ cup dark raisins
½ Tbsp saffron threads
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 80°F
½ cup salted butter, room temperature and cubed (use good-quality butter)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ Tbsp fast-acting yeast
1 large egg, beaten
1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Swedish Saffron Buns
Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set them aside to plump for at least one hour.
Place the saffron threads in a mortar and grind them into a fine powder using a pestle. (Alternatively, you can use a small bowl and the back of a spoon.) Add one tablespoon of the sugar and crush together with the saffron.
Place the butter into the warm milk and stir until the butter is melted. Then stir the saffron and sugar mixture into the milk mixture to let the saffron dye the milk. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and remaining sugar.
Pour the lukewarm milk and saffron mixture into the flour mixture. Then add the egg.
Use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough for about 7 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for one hour. (The dough will be puffy, but will not double in size.)
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto the counter and knead it a few times. Then divide the dough into 13 equal pieces, about 88 grams each.
Roll each piece into a rope about 12-inches long. Shape the ropes into “S”, spiral, and/or scroll shapes. (See the photos above for reference.)
Drain the raisins and place them on a paper towel to dry. (Pat the raisins dry if necessary.) Tuck a raisin into the center of each coil.
Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 30 minutes until puffy.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Once the dough has risen, beat together the egg and water for the egg wash. Brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake the buns for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer to wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes before enjoying the warm buns. (The rolls reheat very well with just a few seconds in the microwave, and are delicious with butter!)