Lussekatt, Swedish Saffron Bread

Francine was coming over from Connecticut for brunch so I wanted to bake something that would bring back the Stockholm memories we shared together earlier this year. This traditional Christmas bread, or lussekatt, gets its yellow-orange color from saffron threads and is baked into S-shapes with raisins. They’re yeasty–a big plus to me–but also sweet (I cut down the sugar by half) and good with tea in the late afternoon. Of course, it’s the middle of summer here in New York City and Francine brought a bottle of Belvedere Bloody Mary vodka to mix drinks, but just like our Sweden trip, brunch broke all established rules.

I made other alterations to this Saveur Magazine recipe besides cutting down the sugar. I didn’t let the S-shaped dough sit for another 30 minutes while I preheated the oven. I also didn’t mix the beaten egg with a splash of water before brushing the tops with it. I’m not a baker, so I didn’t notice the difference: my saffron buns turned out pretty well. I think the Swedish gnomes would be proud.

2 1/4 oz packages of active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, heated until warm to the touch
2 tsps saffron threads
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
12 tbsps unsalted butter, room temperature, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
golden raisins

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron and 1 tsp of sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt and 2 eggs. Mix on low until dough forms and gathers around the paddle.
2. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and add butter. Knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 8 minutes.
3. Grease a large glass bowl with butter. Transfer dough to the greased bowl and cover with Saran wrap. Let sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
4. Divide dough into small pieces and roll each piece into a medium-length rope. Form each rope into an S-shape and then roll each end into a tight spiral. Place buns 2 inches apart on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place raisins at the center of each spiral.
5. Preheat oven to 400º while lightly beating the remaining egg. Brush each bun with beaten egg. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 15 minutes.

Related post/s:
Our travel story in Stockholm, Sweden
Wow, a 2005 recipe for Swedish meatballs