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saint lucia buns

This recipe for St. Lucia Buns was posted a few years ago originally, but it got buried in the archives and I thought I’d bring it up again for the Holidays.

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Each December, I find myself searching for the perfect holiday traditions. Not that there are any perfect ones, of course, but with two little ones in our family, I crave some routine and consistency each year. Dream scenarios would be opening presents every Christmas morning as a family in our home, snuggling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate Christmas Eve to watch Rudolph (and then later White Christmas), searching through holiday magazines and cookbooks for the best cookie recipes and then making them together over Christmas break, and sweet yeasted bread every day. Cinnamon rolls, fruit-filled Danish, braided pumpkin-spice knots, just anything along those lines, all Christmas-time long.

st. lucia buns

King Arthur Flour asked me to bring a Christmas classic to their Holiday Table, and I immediately thought of St. Lucia Buns. St. Lucia Day is before Christmas Day, taking place on the longest night of the year (according to the ancient Julian calendar), December 13th. While these buns are not dripping in icing and swirled with cinnamon, they are sweet and delicious nonetheless. They could be made in the middle of December, and then again on the 25th, served for breakfast, or an afternoon coffee break after opening piles of presents and shaking every last piece of candy out of stockings by the fire. Whenever you decide to make them is just fine; just make sure to add them to your baking list.

Browse some of my other picks for Classic Christmas recipes and favorite tips for the season at King Arthur Flour’s Holiday Table.

st. lucia buns

st lucia buns

To begin: 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; then stir in the butter.

st. lucia buns

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Mix to combine, then knead the dough.

st. lucia buns

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it’s quite puffy.

st. lucia buns

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape the dough into 12 logs, then roll each log into a long rope.

st. lucia buns

st. lucia buns

Shape each rope into an “S” shape.

st. lucia buns

Let the buns rise again, until puffy. Brush with egg whites.

st. lucia buns

Then sprinkle with coarse white Swedish pearl sugar.

st. lucia buns

Bake the buns until they’re golden brown.

st. lucia buns

Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

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st. lucia buns

St. Lucia Buns
Recipe by King Arthur Flour

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
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

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 cool to lukewarm, 30 to 35 minutes. You can reduce the milk’s cooling time by about 10 minutes by refrigerating it.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, flours, salt and sugar.

Separate one of the eggs, and set the white aside; you’ll use it later.

Pour the lukewarm milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients.

Add the 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, and the vanilla. Mix to combine, then knead for about 7 minutes by mixer, or 10 minutes by hand, till the dough is smooth and supple.

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.

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.

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.

Roll each log into a 15″ to 18″ rope. They’ll shrink once you stop rolling; that’s OK.

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.

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.

Brush each bun with some of the egg white/water glaze. Sprinkle with coarse white Swedish pearl sugar, if desired.

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.

Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12 large buns
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This post was sponsored by King Arthur Flour. All my opinions, as always, are my own.

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