Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa Lucia

Lussinatt, the festival of Santa Lucia is celebrated in Scandinavian countries on December 13. However, any time in advent is a good time to make these sweet saffron buns -- lussikatter. Ann, our Swedish au pair (she came to stay with us for a few months to learn English, but couldn't have been more than 17 -- I do remember, however, curiously, that her aunt was the famous opera singer, Elisabeth Söderström) spent an entire December day locked in the kitchen, mixing and rolling and baking.  The entire house smelled of sweet yeast and cardamom, my very favorite smell.

Here is the recipe:

Lucia buns are the traditional treats handed out during the children’s procession and are a sweet bread or ‘boller’. The literal translation is ‘Lucia cats’. This is because of the characteristic winding tail design. The buns are also decorated with raisins.

50 grams of fresh yeast or 1 packet of dry yeast (note: sweet dough yeast is best to use)
150 grams butter
500mls of milk
1 gram of saffron (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
150 grams of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of salt 2 teaspoons of cardamom
About 1.3 litres of plain flour (measure in a water jug)
For decoration: 1 beaten egg for glazing Raisins

Melt butter. Add milk. Crumble yeast in a mixing bowl in some of the lukewarm milk/butter mix. Then add rest of wet ingredients. (Skip this step if using dry yeast.) Mix in sugar salt cardamom and saffron. Add flour knead until a nice firm dough. (If using dry yeast add packet to flour before adding to the mix.) Cover in plastic wrap and let raise until double the size. Sprinkle some flour on a kneading area and knead dough well. Cut dough into pieces and roll them to long finger thick sausages. Shape them into the famous Lussekatter double spiral. Place on a baking sheet and cover in plastic. Allow to raise for 15 minutes. Glaze with beaten egg and decorate with raisins (usually one raisin in each eye of the swirl.) Bake at 225°C for 5-8 minutes (depending of size). Let them cool on a rack. They taste best lukewarm.

No comments: