St. Lucia Day, luciadagen, falls on 13 December and is celebrated throughout Scandinavia. In Norway, the day is celebrated with a candle procession in the kindergartens and schools, which is led by one of the children dressed up as Lucia in a white dress with a wreath and candle on their head. The other children follow behind, dressed also in white robes and singing the song, “Santa Lucia”.
As the procession carries forward, the children hand out saffron buns to symbolize light throughout the darkness. These saffron buns are a Swedish custom that have become a permanent baked-good tradition during the holiday season.
I have shared my recipe for the classic saffron buns in another post, which you’ll find here.
A dear friend of mine baked me her version of sugared lussekatter not long ago and I loved them. I knew I wanted to make some during this holiday season and share them with you all. These sugared saffron buns are based off of my original recipe, and are slathered with melted butter and a good douse of granulated sugar after baking. They’re super soft and fluffy with a strong hint of saffron, and best eaten warm with the butter and sugar melting into every bite.
Sugared Saffron Buns (Sukrede Lussekatter)
Makes 16 buns
- 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
- 4 teaspoons (1/2 ounce/14 g) instant yeast
- ¼ teaspoon ground saffron or saffron threads, gently crushed
- 7 cups (840 g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (150 g) lightly salted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- Raisins, for serving
- ½ cup (112 g) butter, melted
- Granulated sugar
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until lukewarm. Add the yeast and saffron and whisk until combined. Remove from the heat.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the milk mixture and eggs. Knead on medium-low for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead on medium for 5 minutes more, or until the dough is very elastic and somewhat moist. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On the same lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and roll out each piece into a thick strand. Roll the ends of each strand toward the middle in opposite directions to form an “S” shape. Arrange the buns on the prepared baking sheets, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Decorate the buns with raisins, if using. Bake, 1 baking sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. While still warm, brush the tops with the melted butter then dip in granulated sugar to cover.
These buns are best eaten while they are still fresh, on the day they were baked.