Saint Lucia Buns (Lussekatter-- Saffron Buns)
On 13 December the Swedes celebrate the Italian Sankta Lucia with saffron-flavoured buns, in Swedish called a lussekatt, "Lucia cat." The shape of the bun may vary somewhat,but is based on bread designs from early Christmas celebrations in Sweden. They are often served with a mulled wine
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 teaspoons salt*
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoons if you use salted butter
1 large egg white mixed with 1 tbs cold water
coarse pearl sugar, optional
golden raisins, optional
In small saucepan heat milk and saffron over medium heat to a simmer;remove from heat and stir in butter.
Set mixture aside;allow butter to melt,and to cool to lukewarm,30-35 mins.Separate one of the eggs;set the white aside.
In a large bowl,whisk together yeast, flours,salt and sugar.Pour milk mixture over dry ingredients. Add 2 eggs,1 egg yolk,and vanilla to mixing bowl.
Mix to combine;knead for about 7 minutes by mixer, till dough is smooth and supple.
Place dough in lightly greased bowl,cover;let rise for 1 hr,or till quite puffy,though not necessarily doubled.
Gently deflate dough;divide into 12 equal pieces.Shape pieces into rough logs;let rest,covered,about 10 mins.
Roll each log into a 15" to 18" rope;shape each rope into an "S" shape.Tuck a golden raisin into the center of each of the two side-by-side coils (optional).
Place buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.Cover and let rise for about 30 mins,till noticeably puffy,but definitely not doubled.While they're rising,preheat the oven to 375°F.
Beat egg and water together in a small bowl.Lightly brush egg wash on the risen dough shapes. Bake the buns until they're golden brown,about 18-20 mins.If using raisins,tent with foil for final 3 mins,to prevent raisins burning.When done, transfer them to a cooling rack.