Christmas seems to be arriving earlier and earlier each year..... not that I'm complaining! I LOVE Christmas, especially because I get to celebrate it twice!
My beautiful mama is Swedish, so we get to celebrate all things Scandinavian during the run up to Christmas Eve (which is the official Christmas Day in Sweden). Then, come Christmas day, it's time for Turkey (thanks to dad).
Something we didn't have much of growing up were Saffransbullar, or Saffron Buns. This year, I'm making the most of them! These yellow sweet buns are traditional during the Advent season and the run up to Lucia Day!
On December 13, the whole of Sweden will celebrate St. Lucia Day. It's the Festival of Light, an important part of Christmas.
Traditionally, the girls at school or at church will dress up in white robes. One girl will be selected as “Lucia” and she get's to wear a crown of lit candles (usually now always battery powered for safety), the others carrying a single candle. Processions and singing start as the the girls gather around the "alter area".
I've been to many St Lucia celebrations and it's very beautiful. The words in the songs are beautiful, the stillness of the crowd as "Lucia" walks up the aisle with her crown of light is beautiful. The whole thing is quite celestial. On Dec 5th, our local Church is having a St Lucia event (Brighton is full of Swedes) and this year, Phil will be joining me! It will be interesting to see what he thinks.
After the celebration, saffron buns are the main event. The buns are buttery and bright yellow from the saffron added to the dough (hence the name). They're designed in a "S" shape with raisins added in the middle for extra sweetness. It also makes them look really pretty.
To make these gorgeous buns, you will need:
- 3/4 cup whole milk (175 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron (ground is fine) + 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar (50 g)
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 500g all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 56g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup of sour cream (this is the key ingredient - it makes them soft)!
- 2 large eggs (+ 1 extra to glaze the buns with afterwards)
In a small pan, heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together until the milk starts to steam
Remove from heat and keep stirring the liquid to help the sugar fully dissolve. Leave to cool until the liquid is warm to the touch.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes until you notice some foam!
Take a bowl and whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and pinch of salt.
When combined, make a well in the middle of the flour and add the milk mixture. Then go ahead and add the eggs, the butter, and the sour cream. Mix everything together until blended.
Start to knead the dough. Sprinkle any additional flour over the dough, kneading to incorporate it until the dough is sticky to the touch, but does not stick to your hands. You'll know how much you need to add until your mixture is right. They key here is "less is more" - I recommend a teaspoon at a time, if not half.
Create a ball with the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge overnight.
Before you bake it, let sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size, the press it down and kneed it a couple of times more.
You're ready to shape your buns! Break off a 2 inch bit and then roll it out long like a snake. Curl the ends in so you make an "s" shape.
Pop them on a lined baking sheet. You will end up with approximately 12 buns. Cover with plastic wrap again and place in a warm spot until the dough shapes double in size. This will take approximately an hour.
15 minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 205°C.
Using a pastry brush, brush a beaten egg over the the uncooked buns. Pop on your raisins and bake for 5 - 6 minutes. Take them out of the oven and spin them around so the other end cooks evenly. Pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
Your done! Let them cool for a few minutes before eating.
Lots of love,