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Saffron Christmas Bread Recipes

| 1/3/2014 8:25:00 AM

Saffron BreadFor many people New Year’s Day marks the end of the Christmas season. Traditionally, however, Christmas day is only the first day of the 12 days of Christmas. Our family had a very blessed and busy week with visits from friends and family, and lots delectable Christmas goodies.

Now that all the hustle and bustle of the season is winding down we are blessed with another week to celebrate the birth of Our Lord. To keep the spirit of peace and festivity, I try to balance delicious food with ease of preparation. It can be challenging to find time to bake during the busy holiday season but most bread recipes can be converted to quick bread recipes which can be put together in under 20 minutes.

My favorite recipe this year was Lussekatteer (Swedish saffron buns). On December 13, most Scandinavian households serve these sweet buns infused with saffron in honor of St. Lucy’s feast day. I made them for my family and was very pleased with the results. They are a little bit tricky and time consuming to make so I adapted  a quick bread recipe that can be made in a quarter of the time. This loaf is mildly sweet and makes a wonderful winter breakfast for one of the 12 days of Christmas. Saffron imparts a light golden color and an enchanting flavor to any dish it is costly however so I only use it for special occasions. I will share both recipes and let you choose which one to try. 

Lussekatter, from Classic Scandinavian Cooking by Nika Hazelton


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 packages or teaspoons yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3-1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  •  1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds (optional) 


Scald the milk, stir in 1/3 cup sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile combine boiling water and saffron, let stand. Pour 1/2 cup warm water into large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water; stir until dissolved. Add milk mixture, egg, saffron, and 2 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic about 10 minutes by hand or 5 by machine. Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease dough on all sides. Cover and allow to rise until doubled (I’ve found the best place to rise bread dough is in a sink filled with very warm water) this takes about 1 hour.

Punch down; turn out onto a floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit 20 minutes before buns are ready to be baked. Divide dough into 18 pieces. Roll each piece into a strip 12 inches long. Roll each side in a coil shape going opposite directions to form a bun. Place buns on greased baking pan and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Press a raisin deep into the center of each coil and brush buns with egg white sprinkle with the remaining sugar and almonds if desired. Bake for 20 minutes.  Enjoy! Yield about 18 buns.

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