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
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
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.