Saint Lucia Saffron buns & Bringing Light and Kindness

These delicious and very pretty saffron buns are called Lussekatter in Swedish and they are mandatory in any Swedish celebration of Saint Lucia. On the 13th of December they are traditionally served as a special treat in the morning. 


As I allready mentioned in a previous post here on the blog Saint Lucia day was always a favorite of ours. Probably because it combines dressing up as angels, singing gentle hymns, while holding lit white candles and wearing green spruce crowns - could it be more perfect? 

Together with the girls we decided to go share a little Christmas spirit and hand out some fresh-baked goods to strangers visiting the Round Tower in Copenhagen. It matters a lot to us to show our children that they can so easily make another person happy by offering a smile or a kind gesture, in this case the freshbaked Lussekatter. Of course they were shy but at first, but after a while they started to feel good about giving without taking and that was the best lesson taught on this little endeavour.  It was a cold and grey day in Copenhagen, but our little girls spread a lot of joy in their childish, angelic glory and our hearts were very warm and fuzzy from all this fun and generous tower-picnicking


This is the Enfants Terribles take on a recipe for Lucia Cats or in Swedish, lussekatter. 

50 g fresh yeast (or powdered active yeast 4 1/2 tsp)
125 g butter
2 eggs, wellbeaten
5 dl milk (2,2 cups)
0,5 tsp of salt
15 dl flour (6,4 cups)
1,5 dl caster sugar (about half a cup)
1 vanilla pod
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
Raisins, marzipan and/or chocolatebuttons.


  • Melt the butter in a casserole, 
  • Crumble saffron threads into melted butter and add the milk 
  • Heat till it's lukewarm. 
  • Pour into big bowl and add the yeast. 
  • Mix it all up and let the mix sit for 10 minutes, till the yeast is woken up and ready to get busy.
  • Now add 1 well-beaten egg, 
  • All the sugar, 
  • The salt
  • and the insides of a vanilla pod.
  • Then add most of the flour (leave about 1dl for working the dough after it has risen), 
  • Form a soft dough (just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, don't add too much, as the dough will get to dry.)
  • Leave the worked dough in the bowl and cover it with a clean teatowel and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. 
  • Lightly punch down the risen dough  and then gently knead two or three times on a floured surface. 
  • Pinch off small handfuls of dough  and roll into "snakes" about 1-2 cms (1/2 an inch) wide and 12-14 cms (5 inches) long. 
  • Shape the snakes into "S"-shaped buns and add hide little knob of marzipane in the ends when folding. 

For inspiration and more traditional shapes see illustration. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about 30 min.)

Decorate buns with raisins, brush with egg, and bake in preheated 220º celsius (425º fahrenheit) oven about 10-15 minutes, just until brown. 

The recipe will make about 20-25 Saint Lucia Buns depending on how you shape them.