Swedish Saffron Buns (Lyxiga Lussebullar)
On December 13th, just less than a week away, Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia Day. And before we get into all the why’s and how’s, let’s just take a minute to look at that saffron bun above, shall we? Luxurious, vegan, saffron buns, filled with goodness and almond paste. That’s what I’m talking about!
Ok, so you wanna know what Saint Lucia Day is, right? Well, every year on the 13th of December, all of Sweden gets up verrrry early. Some will dress up and sing, and some will listen and be sung too. Some will bake saffron buns and gingerbread and heat up the glögg, other will eat and drink. Most people will tell you that this is a celebration of an Italian Saint, Lucy, a Christian martyr, who died on the 13th of December 304 A.D
But I have to say, that I like to delve deeper, and find it refreshing to still find hints of paganism (sounds almost like veganism, doesn’t it) in Swedish culture. While somewhere around Dec 21st is usually looked upon as the shortest day of the year, due to discrepancies in the Gregorian and Julian calendars, this was once upon a time, the 13th of December.
According to Wikipedia :
Lussinatta, the Lussi Night, was marked in Sweden December 13. Lussi, a female being with evil traits, like a female demon or witch, was said to ride through the air with her followers, called Lussiferda. (Kinda sounds like Lucifer, doesn’t it?!) This itself might be an echo of the myth of the Wild Hunt, called Oskoreia in Scandinavia, found across Northern, Western and Central Europe.
Between Lussi Night and Yule, trolls and evil spirits, in some accounts also the spirits of the dead, were thought to be active outside. It was believed to be particularly dangerous to be out during Lussi Night. According to tradition, children who had done mischief had to take special care, since Lussi could come down through the chimney and take them away, and certain tasks of work in the preparation for Yule had to be finished, or else the Lussi would come to punish the household. The tradition of Lussevaka – to stay awake through the Lussinatt to guard oneself and the household against evil, has found a modern form through throwing parties until daybreak. Another company of spirits was said to come riding through the night around Yule itself, journeying through the air, over land and water.
Oh gosh, I hope I haven’t ruined the sweet, Swedish tradition of saffron buns! Because really, you need to take the time and bake these traditional, seasonal treats. And if you need still need something to get you in the mood – put this video on!!!
- 1½ cups (3.5 dl) – almond milk
- 0.35 oz (1 g) – saffron / 2 sachets
- Ca 2 oz (50 g) – fresh yeast
- ⅔ cups (1.5 dl) – sugar
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) – salt
- 3½ oz (100 g) – soft margarine
- 4-5 cups (9-12 dl) – all-purpose flour (I've also made these using a fine, gluten free mix - give it a try!) Filling:
- 6 oz (150 g) – soft, almost melted, butter
- 10 oz (300 g) – almond paste Coating:
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) – plant milk
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) – sugar
- 1½ oz (40 g) – almond flakes
- Boil the milk with saffron and allow to cool completely.
- Mix the cold milk mixture with the yeast, sugar, salt, soft margarine and flour until the dough becomes somewhat firm. Cover, place somewhere warm, and allow it to rise for 1 to 3 hours.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes in a machine, or 15-20 by hand. The dough should be smooth and come off easily from the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add more flour.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, separate into two equal amounts, and roll out each. Spread the butter on top and then grate almond paste over that. Then roll up each large piece, cut approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick rolls and put into muffin papers/molds.
- Cover and let rise again for about 30 min. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 225C (400F).
- Mix the cream/milk and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is melted. Pour into a cup and let cool for a few minutes.
- Brush the buns with the milk/sugar mixture and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes.