December is the darkest month of a year. Still, I also think it is the brightest month of a year. In Gothenburg, the town is filled with the lights from the star-shaped lamp or advent candles at every house and building, and the red colour of the Christmas decoration and the yellow colour of the saffron buns.
The buns are called Lussebullar or Lussekatter and eaten during December especially around the 13th of December, St. Lucia Day. It is a celebration of light, as it was the darkest day of the year in the peasant tradition…well, if you want to know more about its history, google it, or look at this video. It is a good summary of the whole thing. Today, it is celebrated at school and church with a choir of children in white gowns, candles and paper-cones on their heads. I got a chance to hear a chorus by a student choir at a university yesterday which was astonishing. In the darkness, their beautiful voices and the real candle lights were melting together. Of course, there were the yellow buns and the Swedish mulled wine, glögg, on the table. The saffron bun itself tastes mild with a hint of saffron which fits well with the sweet, sour and a little bit spicy mulled wine.
Lussebullar (40 buns). Required time: About 1h30min. This recipe is based on Vårkokbok (Norstedts) with some modifications.
- 1 g saffron
- 150 g butter or margarine
- 5 dl milk
- 50 g yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 dl sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 dl raisin (If you like)
- ca 875 g (14-15dl) flour
- 1 whisked egg for the glaze, some raisins, and pearl sugar (if you have) for decoration.
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add the milk in 1 and warm it to 37 ℃.
- Put the yeast in a large bowl.
- Put 2 in 3. Mix them well until the yeast dissolves.
- Add salt, sugar, saffron, egg, raisins (if you like) and flour.
- Work with the dough with hands.
- When the dough gets less sticky and starts leavening, put a wet cloth and leave it for 30 minutes.
- Put some flour on the baking board. Place the dough and work with it.
- Cut the dough into 4 chunks. Then, cut each piece into 10. So it becomes 40 buns.
- Roll the buns to about 20 cm long. Then, twist the ends of each bun in opposit directions to foam.
- Cover them and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Set the oven at 225℃.
- Put the raisin on the top of the buns, glaze the whisked egg on each bun, and scatter pearl sugar.
- Bake them for about 5-8 minutes, until they get a nice colour.