I’ve never had lussekatter, traditional Christmas Swedish saffron buns, so I had no idea if I had made them right or not. Luckily, there was a translated recipe in the December Saveur, which came from an Allt om Mat editor, so I knew the recipe would be straightforward and trustworthy.
These buns are very mildly flavored and not very sweet. They reminded me of Hawaiian bread (do you know what I’m talking about?) which I adored as a kid. But it didn’t really go with dinner — I suspect it should be a fika treat, something to nosh with coffee either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, before dinner. It’s definitely not a dessert.
I tried to follow the recipe closely — the only deviation I made was to soak the raisins in amaretto overnight — I love a boozy raisin.
They really need to be baked and eaten day of — they go stale quite quickly. But the leftovers made a pretty lovely bread pudding with the addition of almond paste, cardamom, custard, and more raisins.
adapted from December 2009 Saveur
2 1/4 oz. packages active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, heated till finger-warm (110 degrees)
2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp and cut into 1/2″ cubes
64 raisins soaked overnight in 1/3 c. amaretto liquer
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 tsp.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. (I don’t have a stand mixer, so I just did this by hand.)
- Replace paddle with dough hook and add butter. Knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 8 minutes.
- Grease a large bowl with butter. Transfer dough to the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 32 pieces and roll each piece into an 8″ long rope. Form each rope into an S-shape and then roll each end into a tight spiral. Place buns 2″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the dough pieces and place a raisin at the center of each of the spirals.
- Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 Tbsp. water and brush each bun with egg.
- Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 16 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve with strong brewed coffee for fika.
Lussekatter Bread Pudding
Okay, there is no tradition of lussekatter bread pudding in Sweden, as far as I know, but it’s a nice way to use up some of those stale buns, and it’s quite pretty to boot. I used some leftover frozen almond paste butter with cardamom, so I’m just going to give you an approximate recipe and you can trust your judgment for the amounts to add.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take 6 stale lussekatter.
2. Slice into 1″ pieces.
3. Heat 2 cups of milk with a knob of butter, some grated almond paste and a bit of ground cardamom over low heat until hot but not boiling.
4. In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk with 1/3 cup of sugar. While whisking vigorously, pour in a bit of the hot milk mixture. Once well beaten, add more of the hot milk mixture until it’s all well mixed. Add a splash of vanilla extract and, if desired, a splash of amaretto.
5. Add cut-up lussekatter and some soaked raisins, let the bread soak for a few minutes.
6. Butter a small 5″ x 9″ casserole. Pour soaked bread custard into casserole. Bake for 30 minutes until top is crisp and golden brown and custard is cooked through. Serve warm. Or eat cold from the fridge. I’m not judging if you’re not judging.