Saint Lucia Day – Candles, Glögg, & Saffron Buns {Recipes}

Today is St. Lucia Day (Sankta Lucia Dag), a day to celebrate light and saffron rolls in Sweden.

If you have always wondered about girls wearing candles on their head, this is the holiday to do so!

A rather unusual Luciafirande at Erikdalsbadet, one of the major swimming houses in Stockholm
water lucia fest stockholm sweden

A bunny’s lucia by Matsamats
Pelles Luciatåg och tävling131

Typical Luciakonsert

And on this day, the luciatåg (Lucia participants) give out lussebullar (saint lucia buns or saffron buns) and glögg (mulled wine) to guests.

Here’s my recipe for lussebullar for both American and Swedish kitchens. The difference is that the Swedish recipe has quark (a hung yogurt) while the American one calls for more butter. Saffron dries bread out easily and the quark/butter does a good job of keeping the buns soft and moist.

Still if you make them, plan to eat within a day or two and keep them well stored and away from air.

American St. Lucia buns recipe

1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
6 -6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
raisins to decorate
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

See directions below.

Svenska lussekatter recipe

50 g (1 3/4 oz.) yeast
5 dl (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) milk (I use 3%)
150g (5 1/4 oz.) butter
250 g (8.8 oz.) Quark (called kesella in Swedish), a kind of curd cream
2 dl (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 envelopes saffron (1 gram) or a large pinch of high quality Spanish saffron
1 teaspoon salt
16-17 dl (6 3/4 cups) flour, probably more if the dough is sticky
Raisins for garnish
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until warm to touch. If you have a thermometer, it should be around 36-37 degrees but no more.

Crumble saffron threads into melted butter/milk. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to an hour. This intensifies the saffron flavor and cools the butter/milk down if it was too hot.

Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture in bowl and mix until all the yeast has dissolved. Mix in the rest of the liquid. {If the liquid is too warm it will kill the yeast. Hence I go for the lukewarm method – just warm to touch. And cold liquid will also kill the yeast.}

Mix kesella, sugar and salt.

Combine two together (yeast/milk/butter and kesella/sugar).

Start adding the flour a little at a time and work the dough until smooth. Add more flour until it stops being sticky. The dough should be soft to touch.

Cover the dough with a moist paper towel (keeps the dough from drying out) and let rest and rise at room temperature. About 45-60 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it a few minutes. Again, the dough should be light and fluffy to the touch.

To make it easy to keep the roll sizes even, divide the dough into 25-28 pieces.

Stretch out dough into a “snake” (long piece) and then twist the ends towards the center. One end is twisted clockwise, the other counterclockwise.

The buns should look like giant letter “S”-ess. Put them on a sheet that is lightly greased or lined with baking paper.

Press the raisins in the two centers and then let ferment additional 15-25 minutes to double the size. This second rise should not be forgotten!

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Whisk up an egg with a tablespoon milk and brush the buns with the mixture. You can also skip this if you want to keep the buns vegetarian.

Bake in middle of oven about 5-10 minutes until they become golden brown. Watch them carefully so they do not burn! Don’t leave the kitchen, these buns are fast cooking and require no more than 10 minutes to bake.

Remove the buns and let them cool on a grate. Nice and warm, they’re ready to eat now!

Enjoy lussekatter with a glass of milk or glögg.

Glögg (Mulled Wine)
If you cannot buy mulled wine at the store, you can easily make your own.
This recipe makes around 8-10 little cups for friendly faces and uses a full bottle of wine.

You can adjust the recipe accordingly to your preferences and tastes.

1 bottle red wine
1-2 cups rum (dark is more flavorful)
1 cup sugar

1 Star Anise
4-10 Cardamon pods or 2 tsp Cardamon powder
3-4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces or 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder
4-5 Clove pieces or 1 tsp Clove powder
1 inch piece Ginger – smash or chop into little pieces to make easier to diffuse
1/2 small Bitter Orange
1/2 tsp Nutmeg – can skip
2 tsp Dark chocolate Powder – can skip
Raisins and blanched almonds – for each cup. A surprise yummy in every cup!

Mix the wine, sugar, and all the spices and put on medium low heat. Keep the rum for later.

For the first 5-7 minutes, stir so the sugar dissolves.

You can then put the wine on low heat (setting 3 or 4 on a dial of max 10) for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and it doesn’t boil.

Add the rum and increase the heat to medium. Stir for another 10 minutes. It’s important to not let this boil since the alcohol will then burn off and disappear.

Strain the liquid and serve hot with a few pieces of raisins and almonds in each cup.

Enjoy glögg with piping hot lussebullar and Christmas music by candlelight and you’ll be celebrating St. Lucia Day Swedish style!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *