St. Lucia Saffron Buns
By Terese Allen - Winter 2017 Issue
December 13 is the feast of St. Lucia, who was said to have brought food to starving Swedes during a famine. Today, to celebrate the start of Christmas festivities, fair-haired Swedish-American girls serve hot coffee and these fancy saffron rolls.
Recipe Detail Serves: 24 3 hrs. 30 mins. Prep Time, 12-14 mins. Cook Time
Crush saffron threads into a powder with a mortar and pestle. Combine saffron with milk or half-and-half in a small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in butter until it’s melted. Cool mixture to very warm, 120 to 130 degrees.
Meanwhile, combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir warm milk mixture into flour mixture, add whole eggs and beat until dough comes together. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until springy, 3 to 5 minutes. Place in a large buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, 60 to 90 minutes.
Grease 3 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Punch dough down; knead briefly. Divide dough into 6 portions, then divide each portion into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 7-inch rope. Place two ropes side-by-side; pinch them together in the center of their length and then coil the four ends outward and down. (You’ll end up with four small coils joined at the center.) Alternatively, the dough ropes may be twisted into S-shapes with coiled ends, braided or made into other forms. Place buns on baking sheet. Let them rise in a warm place until they’re puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush buns with egg yolk mixture. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. While buns are still hot, use a little egg white to “glue” a piece of dried fruit into the center each of the coils, or onto the top of the other dough shapes.