Today it’s 3rd of advent and finally I can show you one of my absolute favorites when it comes to sweet things; Lussekatter (or Lucia cats if you translate it directly). Its a soft, sweet saffron bun with raisins, traditionally eaten during Lucia (13th of December).
I believe this tradition could be quite exotic for people outside Sweden, boys with stars in their hands and high paper cones on their head. And girls with candles in their hand and wreaths around their head. All in full-length white dresses, singing, lead by one girl with a candlelit wreath on her head.
The essence of Lucia (as of many other Swedish traditions) is the Light. Lucia comes as the bearer of the light in the cold darkness of the nordic Sweden (the Lucia night used to be the longest night in the year in the old almanac). Here, some communities in the North doesn’t have daylight for up to 19 days each year. Lucia and her followers sing about light, warmth and the importance of keeping the darkness out of our homes and hearts.
The traditions of he saffron buns is debated but they think it comes from Germany in the 17th-centry when the devil in form of a cat beat up children on the streets at night. At the same time, Jesus, in the shape of a child handed out buns to the nice kids, colored bright yellow to scare of the devil.
Lussekatter or Saffron buns
To make about 25 buns you need;
1 g saffron
50 g fresh yeast or 1 bag (12g) dry
200 g sugar
1,5 cup milk
200 g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
700 g strong flour
Handful of raisins (+ something to soak them in, mulled wine/rum/burbon or just water)
To make the Swedish “Lucia cats”, do this;
Start of with soaking the raisins in your liquid of choice, and then put it aside for later.
Pour the milk into a pan along with the butter and the saffron and heat it up to about body-temperature (about 37 degrees). By heating the saffron it releases so much more flavor. At the same time, crumble the yeast into a bowl (or a dough mixer), pour the milk-mixture over and start combining them until the yeast have dissolved.
Add in the flour, sugar, salt and the egg (cracked off course). Mix it for about ten minuets (don’t worry if the dough is kind of wet, it will absorb during the proving). Let it prove under a baking towel in room temperature for 30 min.
Divide the dough into 25 pieces and then roll them out in a oblong shape, about 20 cm long. Let them rest and relax before twisting the ends in opposite directions to form an S-shape. Lay them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and before letting them prove again put one of your soaked raisins in each “twist” (making sure to push them down properly, otherwise they will burn).
Let them prove once more, about 1,5 hours or when they have doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush them with egg wash and bake for 5-10 min (until the bottom-side is golden). Allow to cool down slightly before tucking in.