Day 4: St. Lucia Buns
Today is St. Lucia Day. You can read about who Saint Lucia is here. It’s kind of a gruesome story, as many of the stories of saints and martyrs are, but they certainly make for interesting dinner table conversation. A celebration of light seems to be the overarching theme of the day and the classic bread associated with it are these saffron scented buns.
I first made them a few years ago and the husband fell in love with them. They are not too sweet and the saffron gives them a little savoriness and a wonderful color. I am not as big a fan of saffron as he is, so I like them less, but this year might be different. This year, I really only had a pinch of saffron left in the jar. I knew it would not be enough for the typical recipe, but at 8 in the morning, I was not prepared to go looking for it around town.
That’s when I decided to go all out and just make up my own recipe. This recipe has more egg and the addition of sourdough starter. These both help to soften the dough to make it easier to shape and to keep the baked buns soft longer. I also used a helping of my rummy fruit mix, which is why they have more colorful bits than usual.
All in all, I thought that they turned out very well. The one I ate that was still hot from the oven was marvelously soft, fluffy, sweet, and had just the right amount of saffron flavor for me. The rolls were not as yellow as I would like because of the tiny amount of saffron I used, and the husband definitely would have liked more saffron flavor. But, even with the tiny amount that I used, the flavor and aroma of saffron was definitely there. Saffron is a potent spice!
You’ll notice in the recipe below that I give a wide range of saffron amounts. If you’ve never had saffron before, I suggest you start small, unless you’re super adventurous, and work your way up. The sourdough starter is optional, but I really do think that it helps to keep breads soft and moist longer. With all the other flavors in the dough, it is hardly noticeable.
These pretty and tasty buns have become a tradition in our house, even though there is not a single scandinavian bone in our bodies. Good food knows no boundaries, right?
Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter my give-away!
St. Lucia Buns
Makes 24 average sized buns
345 g (1.5 cups) milk
110 g (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4-1 teaspoon Saffron, depending on your tastes
225 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
10 g (4 teaspoons) SAF gold osmotolerant yeast
100 g (2 large) eggs
260 g (1 cup) 100% hydration sourdough starter(optional, but if you have it, I highly recommend it for its ability to keep breads from going stale right away)
850 g (6 cups) all purpose flour plus up to 70 g (1/2 cup) more
10 g (2 teaspoons) salt
100g (2/3 cup) golden raisins
100 g (2/3 cup) mixed rummy fruit and citrus mix or use any combination of candied citrus or other dried fruit that you like
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1/2 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons, approximately, of Swedish pearl sugar
Heat milk in a small pot or microwave until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Pour into a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. Add butter and stir until the butter is melted. Crumble the saffron between your fingers and add to the warm milk mixture. Then, stir in the sugar. By this time, your milk mixture should be just slightly warm. Just check to make sure that it is not over 115 degrees before you go on.
Sprinkle yeast over the milk mixture and stir. Let stand for a minute or two. Then, add the eggs and sourdough starter and stir for a minute. It does not have to be well blended. Add the flour and salt and stir until a rough dough forms. Knead by hand or in your mixer on low until the dough is nice and smooth and not sticky. This could take up to ten minutes. You may need to add several tablespoons of flour to achieve this texture. Add the fruit in two additions and knead gently until evenly distributed.
Set the dough in a greased bowl or container, cover tightly, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 3 hours.
Divide the dough into half, and set one half aside in the covered container while you shape the first half. Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces and roll into 12 inch long ropes. Curl each end towards the middle, forming an S shape. Push one golden raisin into the center of each side of the S. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet with 2 inches between each bun. Repeat the shaping with the other half of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy and just about doubled. This will take 2-2 1/2 hours.
When the buns are almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the oven so that they have an even amount of space around them. Get your egg wash ready. When the buns are fully risen, brush each one gently with egg wash and sprinkle pearl sugar on top.
Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans and switching them on the racks after 20 minutes. When they are done, they should be lightly browned and sound hollow when you tap one. Try to let them cool until just warm before you have one, but good luck with that!