Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lucia Bread (Saffron Rolls)

If you know a little about Swedish culture around Christmas, then you probably have heard of St. Lucia Day.  These saffron rolls are baked and eaten for St. Lucia Day.  It is technically on December 13th, but I baked these for my brunch on the 14th.  They were pretty easy to make and turned out very nicely.  A word to the warning though is that they stale very quickly and should be eaten on the same day as they are made.    You can add more raisins to the dough if you like, but I just used them on top as the decoration.  (This recipe is based on a recipe in The Great Scandinavian BakingBook by Beatrice Ojakangas.)  The picture above also shows Danish Rye Butter Buns.
Lucia Bread (Swedish Saffron Rolls)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (between 105-115 F)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands ground in a mortar and pestle
2 eggs
48 raisins (or more if desired)
4 cups flour

Glaze for bread rolls:  (Beat together)
1 egg

In a mixing bowl for a counter top mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add a little of the sugar (about a tablespoon to feed the yeast).  Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy.  Add the rest of the sugar, butter, cream, saffron, and eggs.  Beat well.  Stir in the flour, about 1 cup at a time until the dough is smooth and slightly shiny.  All the flour should be mixed in at this point.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).  When you remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide dough into 24 pieces to then form into a S shape (see pictures).  (There are other shape variations you can make as well.  You can also divide into three and make one large loaf.)  Place a raisin on each end.  Brush with the glaze for the bread rolls and place in a warm place until doubled.  Preheat oven to 375F and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden.

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