Scandinavian “Lussekatter” Santa Lucia – Saffron Buns: the Perfect Recipe

Today is Santa Lucia’s day. I’ve been living on a small island on the west coast of Norway for five years and Santa Lucia‘s day was one of the most exciting days of the year. During that day, us parents were invited to arrive in the kindergarten early in the morning, during the so-called “Blue Hour”. At that time, we better appreciated the blue light of the sky, the brilliant whiteness of snow and the only light coming from the candles. Children, dressed up with a long white tunic and with a crown or wreath of candles on them, walked around singing the “SantaLucia” song. After the parade, we were served a steaming cup of coffee and the ever-present, saffron sweet buns, called Lussekatter. These buns were prepared the day before form our children and the shapes of them were of the most diverse. Now that we don’t live in Norway anymore, we are still preserving the tradition of baking the Lussekatter. We can’t help smelling the fragrance of cardamom in our house, nostalgically humming the Santa Lucia song.


Saffron Buns

10-12 pieces
Preparation: 20minProofing Time:
about 1h 30min
Baking Time: 15 minTOTAL TIME: about 2h


  • 2,5 cups (600 ml) milk
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 oz. (50 g) fresh yeast
  • 1/2 tsp saffran thread or turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 8 1/3 cups (1 kg) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt


1 egg, lightly beaten raisins sugar crystals (optional)


  • Heat the milk until warm, between 35ºC and 40ºC  Dissolve the yeast into the milk. Then add the melted butter. In a mortar, gring the saffron with the salt. Add the saffron, or the turmeric powder, and the cardamom to the milk and set aside.
  • In a stand-mixer’s bowl sift he flour and add the sugar.
  • Fit the dough hook to your stand-mixer and with the machine running on low speed, add the milk mixture. Continue to knead until you have a nice soft dough. Add flour, a tablespoons at the time, if the dough is too sticky. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size (for about one hour).
  • Divide the dough into 10 – 12 pieces. Roll out each piece so that it is about 30 cm long. Roll up both ends into a tight S shapes.
  • Place each piece on a lined baking sheet, cover with a cloth and rise until doubled in size again (for about 30 minutes).
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Brush the buns with the beaten egg. Press a raisin into the centre of each end.
  • Bake until golden brown (for about 10-15 minutes).
Santa Lucia Saffron Bun Dough

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