(Just FYI, when I typed “tradition” into the post title, I heard it in the voice of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, followed by a musical interlude.)
I got up early this morning to start the dough for a batch of Santa Lucia buns, or Lussekatter as I recently learned they’re called. My church does a Santa Lucia procession after vespers on the Saturday closest to her feast day (the 13th) – they’ve done it since I was a tiny thing, too young to participate, then the right age to carry a candle, very solemnly, then the right age to play the part of St. Lucy herself. I’m trying to remember if my sister, who is actually a Lucy and has St. Lucy as her patron saint, ever got a turn.
At any rate, I have a soft spot for the tradition but haven’t made it to that vespers in many years. This year I couldn’t resist the requests for people to bake buns, since I figure that if anything, I should volunteer to help in baking-related duties at church (see: hot cross buns for Palm Sunday). They’re still on their first rise, so I don’t know how they’ll turn out, but hopefully they’ll be delicious and ready before it’s time to go to The Nutcracker this afternoon (speaking of traditions!)
Here’s the recipe I was given to use – no idea where it originally came from. And yes, apparently Santa Lucia buns count as a valid way to break the fast!
St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 warm water (105-115°)
2/3 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 margarine or butter softened
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. powdered saffron
5-5 1/2 cups flour, divided (I used about 5 cups and suspect this was a tad too much)
1/2 cup raisins
margarine or butter, softened
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. water
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine,
2 eggs, cardamom, salt, saffron and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of
remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface;
knead until smooth. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down dough;
divide into 24 parts. Shape each piece into an S-shaped rope; curve both ends into a coil.
Place raisin in the center of each coil. Place rolls on greased cookie sheet.
Brush tops lightly with butter; let rise until doubled. Mix 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush buns lightly.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Makes 24 buns.