Swedish Saffron Buns (St. Lucia Buns)

Swedish Saffron Buns (st. Lucia Buns) Recipe

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Vickie Parks


They're called Lussekatter in Sweden. They're made for St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) to commemorate the day St. Lucy was martyred in 304 AD for feeding Christians who were hiding in dark catacombs, using only a candle-lit wreath for light. They're most associated with Sweden, but they're also common in Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland (and other parts of Europe as well). St. Lucia celebrations usually include a procession of young girls in dresses, each carrying a candle. The girl chosen to represent St. Lucia wears a crown of lit candles and carries a golden, saffron-scented St. Lucia Bun.


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3 Hr
10 Min


  • 1/2 tsp
    saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon
    cognac or brandy
  • 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup
    melted butter
  • 6 Tbsp
    granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1 (1/4-oz) pkg
    dry active yeast
  • 3 c
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 large
  • 24
  • 1
    egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1/4 cup
    coarse sugar (optional)

How to Make Swedish Saffron Buns (St. Lucia Buns)


  1. Crumble the saffron into the brandy (or cognac), and let sit for at least 20 minutes, or longer if possible (you can do this up to 24 hours in advance).
  2. In a saucepan, scald milk but over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon with a thin milky residue, but DO NOT BOIL. Mix the scalded milk with the butter, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Let cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add yeast and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Add saffron (with the brandy or cognac), and stir well. Mix in half of the flour and egg, and mix until well combined. Stir in the rest of the flour until a soft dough forms. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place until puffy but not quite doubled (about 60 to 90 minutes).
  5. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, each about the size of an egg. Roll each portion into a 5-inch long rope. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  6. Roll each rope again to double the length to about 10 to 12 inches long. Curl the ends in opposite directions, to form a tight S-shaped figure. Tuck a raisin in the center of each curve at each end.
  7. Transfer rolls to a lightly greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Cover again, and let rise in a warm place for about 60 to 90 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  9. Whisk together the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over each of the buns to achieve a glistening golden finish during baking. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of the buns, for a little added sweetness.
  10. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before eating.

Printable Recipe Card

About Swedish Saffron Buns (St. Lucia Buns)

Course/Dish: Sweet Breads
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: Scandinavian
Dietary Needs: Low Fat Low Sodium Low Carb
Other Tag: Heirloom

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