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Sunday, December 13, 2009

St. Lucia Buns - Blue Monday




From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...
Christmas celebrations in Sweden begin with the feast of St. Lucia on the 13th of December. Lucia is the patron saint of light and she is honored on this day. In homes that still observe the feast, the eldest daughter awakens early, dons a white garment sashed in red and places a crown of laurel that holds 4 candles upon her head. Legend tells us that Lucia, whose name means light, placed candles in a wreath she placed on her head in order to free her arms to carry bread she was smuggling to Christians hiding in the catacombs. These days the daughter leads a musical procession with her younger siblings in tow and serves the family special buns called lussekatt for their breakfast. The saffron flavored buns are usually shaped like the figure eight and are topped with raisins at either end of the spiral. The children may, if they wish, wear their costumes to school on this day. Winter months are dark in Sweden and the candles in Lucia's crown symbolize the light of faith and the promise of the sun's return.



Last year my nod to Lucia was a special coffee cake and a recounting of Christmas misadventures with Claire, who dreamed of being chosen to led the St. Lucia Day procession. That story is here should you like to read it. Today's treat is the saffron buns that are traditionally served on this holiday. They are very easy to do, so I'll get right to the recipe.

St. Lucia Buns...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads, chopped fine and soaked in a few drops of water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, divided use
4 cups unbleached flour + flour for kneading
Raisins for garnish

Directions:
1) Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add milk and saffron and heat until just until warm. Pour into bowl of an electric stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add sugar, salt, 1 egg and 2 cups flour. Beat with paddle attachment until smooth and well combine, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add final 2 cups of flour. Using dough hook, beat until mixture is smooth and begins to climb beater. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until perfectly smooth. This dough has a wonderful velvety texture to it. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat all surfaces, and let rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Punch dough down, roll into a cylinder 36 inches long. Cut 18 2-inch pieces from cylinder. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope. Form each piece into an S, spiraling ends to form a figure eight. Transfer pieces to to prepared baking sheet. Let rise, covered, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Brush buns with reserved egg. Tuck raisins into spirals at each end of figure eight. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: 18 buns.

This post is being linked to:
Smiling Sally - Blue Monday

This recipe is linked to:
Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting


Photo of Lucia procession courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license.

50 comments :

Latha said...

Dear Mary,

I'm a recent entrant to your lovely blog. My search for Dresden stollen got me here. I adore the way you explain simple traditions and always followed by a delicacy. The buns are so pretty.

KathyB. said...

These buns look good, but I got distracted by you 'linkd within' about Cinnamon Meringue Coffee Ring, and I think I will be making that soon, before Christmas!

Hootin' Anni said...

Love the recipe, love the ornaments and most of all I loved reading the history of the Santa Lucia Day. Interesting.

Happy Sunday Mary!

Chef E said...

Those rolls are beautiful! Love the story too...which I had your gift for making my bread look so good...

Cathy said...

A wonderful recipe, Mary. The saffron gives these buns such a beautiful color. Would love to have one with my coffee right now.

Mary said...

Latha, I'm so glad you found us. I hope you'll become a regular visitor.
Blessings...Mary

George Gaston said...

Mary the buns are incredible! I bet the saffron gives them a unique taste, as well as the vibrant color. Oh, how I love rolls/buns like these.

I also, love the tradition these buns signify ~ for all to often we forget the sacrifices others have made through the years to help others escape tyranny. Thanks for giving us the story behind these wonderful buns.

lostpastremembered said...

Gorgeous photo... they are beautiful buns... glad you didn't tell the missing eyes part of the St. Lucia story!
That part has always scared me away from the celebration! Your story was lovely.

Mary said...

lostpastremembered, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope you'll become a regular visitor.

Fairy Footprints said...

Oh wow the buns look so yummy, and what a great tradition that goes along with the buns.

Have a wonderful Sunday

Blessings
?´¨)¸.+´¸.•*´¨)¸.+*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.+´??¸.+´
¸.•*´¨)¸.+*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.+´? Heidi ?)

Hootin' Anni said...

Ps....LOVE your suggestion about Russian around....you must try this Sunday Stealing sometime...you're an ace!!

Helene said...

Your pictures are wonderful today.

WizzyTheStick said...

These have been on my to do list for at least two years. It's so hard around the holiday time to try new things when every one clamours for tradition. Your photo is yummy they do look delicios

Jamie said...

These buns are so beautiful! I have been looking for a perfect recipe of Santa Lucia buns to make and I think I just found it! Thank you!

CC said...

As always Mary, your pictures are delightful and I always look forward to your stories. Your blog is just the greatest..I love it.

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Oh how beautiful are your St. Lucia Buns! And the background history is just fascinating! Thanks so very much for sharing these! Happy Sunday! Coralie

Karen said...

As usual, a delectable treat and a lovely story about your dear friend, Claire!

Lea Ann said...

Beautiful!

Katy ~ said...

Beautiful, beautiful buns and a wonderful story, too. Thank you for sharing both.

Alessandra said...

Lovely recipe, I love using saffron in baking. And the pics are good too, as always :-)

Karine said...

Your buns look delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

Mary said...

Karine, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope you'll be a regular visitor.

Jeanette said...

This looks great. I have never baked with saffron but this might tempt me to try it! As usual the story and recipe are wonderful.

theUngourmet said...

These buns look wonderful. I have to tell you that I have never purchased saffron. Someday.

Those ornaments are just gorgeous! Happy Blue Monday!

Debinhawaii said...

Lovely post and your St. Lucia Buns are just perfect.

chubskulit said...

The buns looks delicious!

My blue Monday

Barbara said...

Love the history lesson and the recipe for the buns.

I can always count on you to furnish some great info and wonderful recipes.
Have a great day.
Barbara

Joops said...

the lighted candle on top of the hairy head, a little scary.

How is Baking Cookies for blue Monday?

Erica said...

I love how you explain traditions and all before and then follow with a delicasy........with a beautiful picture. Those buns look good. Thank you for sharing :-)

Happy Blue MOnday!

LV said...

Everything you prepare adds pounds by just looking. Regardless, I wish I had your leftovers..

storyteller said...

Lovely tradition shared today. One of those St. Lucia buns would go deliciously with my morning coffee.
Hugs and blessings,
My Blue Monday

Federica said...

splendide! complimenti come sempre!

gengen said...

Oh the bread is a very yummy one. The decor is great. Happy blue Monday.

Marice said...

aww that buns look really yummy!

u may view mine here

Becky K. said...

Mary,
I love that you shared this story. I don't know if I would want to wear candles on my head but the bread looks awesome.

Happy Monday!

daylily777 said...

Wonderful ,informative post! I love the blue ornaments & the buns look delicious!
Merry Christmas !
~Myrna

SmilingSally said...

Thanks, Mary, for the bit of history and the recipe. What lovely pictures, and I love those ornaments. Happy Blue Monday.

Joy said...

Beautiful ornaments and tradition!
The recipe sounds wonderful. Happy Blue Monday!

claudie said...

Mary the buns look great, but I LOVE the story even more. I love saying it "Santa Lucia Day" ahhhh nice.
Those 3 ornaments are beautiful also.
Happy Blue Monday
Love Claudie
xoxoxo

Claudia said...

Beautiful buns - and beautiful holiday. The Italian doe the "eyes of aint Lucia" - love hearing traditions and stories behind the food. It is all so connected.

My Little Space said...

Such lovely bake and wonderful tradition story!

GLADIOLUS said...

wonderful to see these buns outside Sweden. there are loads of ways to make them even better. especially adding more saffron so they dont turn out what we in sweden call "7-elevenlussebulle" which is a just a bun colored with turmeric because they think saffron is to expensive. Adding quark makes them more juicy and the best version of them are filled with almondpaste, apples, cinnamon and butter! something for next year maybe!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I saw those exact buns at our St Lucia celebration here in the Netherlands....along with our St Lucy, complete with candle hat!

Olga said...

Those are very pretty ornaments! It brings memories of decorating a "winter" tree (since I don't celebrate Christmas) in Russia. I should get a mini tree again this year.

Dina said...

those look lovely!

Mimi said...

Beautiful buns!

Violet said...

I made these and turned out great! very good directions, and I also like how they are not too sweet :) thanks

Lucia said...

Enjoyed this entry. I make St. Lucia Buns every year and miss my mom calling me up to wish me a happy name day! Can't wait to make the bun this year.

Pervaiz said...

I visit your blog first time it is so nice. I wish i come saint Lucia as soon as possible.
http://wofgtg.blogspot.com/

SUSANNA said...

Hola Maria, guapa tu

mil gracias por compartir dia a dia tantas recetas, informaciĆ³n y amor

que tengas UNAS FELICES FIESTAS
MIL PETONETS Susanna

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