These fragrant saffron buns are traditionally served on December 13th, in honor of St.Lucia Day.   This tradition is popular in Scandinavian countries including Sweden, which is where some of my ancestors hail from.  As a young woman I would dress in all white with a red sash around my waist, and a wreath of candles on my head.  I would wake up early on December 13th and serve these buns along with some milk or hot chocolate to my brother and sisters.  I looked forward to this small celebration every year, and these buns have become a nostalgic treat for me now that I am raising my own children.
    This year my oldest son became very interested when I started making them, and I figured it would be a fun task that he could help me with.  Making bread, though difficult, is actually great for kids to participate in.  My son helped mix the batter, kneed the dough, roll it out and place the little raisins in each of the swirls.  I can't help but hope that making these St. Lucia Buns with me will one day become a great memory that he will always look back on.
     I consider these a special treat that only comes once a year, so I didn't try to make them gluten-free or vegan.  Instead, I tried to make them a little more healthy by using white whole wheat flour and unrefined sugar.  Great served as a quick breakfast or even as dessert after dinner.  The smell of saffron buns baking in my oven will always be a warm reminder of my childhood, and now the promise of memories yet to be made.   

St. Lucia Saffron Buns

makes 12 saffron buns

1/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 water (heated to between 110-115° F)
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup pure sugar cane (unrefined)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron (or crushed-up saffron threads)
2 3/4 cups of white whole wheat flour (or regular all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon olive oil (or cooking oil)
egg wash - 1 egg whisked with a little water
48 raisins

    In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter.  Once the butter is melted take it off the heat and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl put the warmed water and dry yeast and set the bowl aside for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is activated.  Check the milk and melted butter with a thermometer to make sure it is not above 115° F.  If the temperature is right, add it to the yeast along with the sugar, egg, salt, and saffron.  Whisk everything to combine.  Then, with a wooden spoon stir in 1 and 1/2 cups of the flour until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour a little at a time until you can form the dough into a ball (With the whole wheat flour I only used an additional 1/2 cup).  Place the dough on a floured surface and kneed the dough for about 5-10 minutes or until it is smooth and it springs back when you poke it.  Place the dough in a large bowl and coat it with the olive oil.  Place bowl in a warm place covered with a kitchen towel to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

    Punch down the risen dough and cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Cut each of the 12 pieces in half (now 24 pieces of dough).  Roll out each half into a long rope (6-8 inches) and cross two ropes in the middle.  Coil each of the ends of the rope toward the center in a circular clockwise pattern as seen below.
    Shape the rest of the dough the same way and place them with plenty of space between each other, on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Cover the buns with a kitchen towel and set them aside in a warm place to rise again for about 30-45 minutes or until they double in size again.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Whisk together an egg with about 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush the egg wash over each of the buns and place a raisin in each of the four corner swirls, and push them in.  (A great task for a small helper).  Bake the buns for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden and browned slightly on the bottom.  Move the buns to a plate or wire rack to cool.  Enjoy!


12/13/2012 8:52pm

Ooh, these buns look fantastic! What a lovely job you did on them. Love that you're passing this tradition down to your family, too!

12/13/2012 9:27pm

Thanks for taking a look Amy!

07/22/2015 7:52am

These buns look amazing! I'm very like handmade eaters. But i add into buns 2 eggs whisked with a little water

12/18/2012 2:07am

thank you for including technique

12/19/2012 9:57pm

You're very welcome! I hope the pictures help a little :)

05/25/2015 3:30am

Best education can only be achieved when the parents, teachers and the pupils agree to work as a team. Each one of them should be ready to support the other. They should also be sure that their roles are played well and at the right time.


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08/27/2015 12:08am

waao it is great . looking yummy. and ypu share the making process . i think it is hygenic.

08/27/2015 2:07pm

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09/16/2015 6:49am

Cool recipe and nice pics. Thanks for sharing

10/05/2015 4:10am

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