Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent 3

Polly designed this lovely Advent shelf in my kitchen
As we begin the third week of Advent I have begun to decorate my home for these holidays. Today is the eve of St. Lucia, celebrated in Scandinavia by choirs, dressed in white robes, carrying candles, singing traditional songs. One girl is chosen as the "Lucia" and wears a crown with candles. A beautiful pageant.
A traditional part of this celebration is saffron buns. I'm very partial to saffron and would like to share this King Arthur Flour recipe with you.

St. Lucia Buns

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt*
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • *Reduce the salt to 1 1/4 teaspoons if you use salted butter


  • 1 large egg white (reserved from dough) mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • coarse pearl sugar, optional
  • golden raisins, optional


1) In a small saucepan set over medium heat (or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave), heat the milk and saffron to a simmer; remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Set the mixture aside to allow the butter to melt, and for it to cool to lukewarm, 30 to 35 minutes. You can reduce the milk's cooling time by about 10 minutes by refrigerating it.
2) In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, flours, salt and sugar.
3) Separate one of the eggs, and set the white aside; you'll use it later.
4) Pour the lukewarm milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients.
5) Add the 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, and the vanilla. Mix to combine, then knead for about 7 minutes by mixer, about 10 minutes by hand, till the dough is smooth and supple.
6) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measuring cup, cover it, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's quite puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.
7) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. A scale makes this job easy; each piece will weigh about 92g, or 3 1/4 ounces.
8) Shape the pieces of dough into rough logs, and let them rest, covered, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten a chance to relax.
9) Roll each log into a 15" to 18" rope. They'll shrink once you stop rolling; that's OK.
10) Shape each rope into an "S" shape. Tuck a golden raisin into the center of each of the two side-by-side coils, if desired.
11) Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or so between them. Cover them, and let them rise for about 30 minutes, till they're noticeably puffy, but definitely not doubled. While they're rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
12) Brush each bun with some of the egg white/water glaze. Sprinkle with coarse white Swedish pearl sugar, if desired.
13) Bake the buns until they're golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. If you've used raisins, tent them with foil for the final 3 minutes, to prevent the raisins from burning.
14) Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
Yield: 12 large buns.


Martha said...

I had forgotten about St. Lucia Day -- but being Lutheran sometimes we would celebrate it in our church (if we had more Scandinavian descent than German) -- and after church treats would be those delicious buns! I love your advent wreath --

Barbara said...

The buns look good.

Marlis said...

I've been following along.. this is such a precious post.. I should have done one every Advent Sunday.. duh.. I totally forgot about St. Lucia Day. Used to teach it in school, but haven't taught in decades.. beautiful blog.. xo marlis


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