St Lucia Saffron Rolls Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

In Sweden, these saffron rolls are baked only during the Christmas holidays, starting with today, which is St. Lucia’s Day.  According to tradition, Swedish mothers are treated to a breakfast in bed that includes these buns.  I love their lightly sweet flavor with spices and raisins throughout.


Enjoy these at breakfast, teatime or as a snack.  These are also included in my idea of a perfect Swedish Christmas Table.

Prep Details

Servings: 12 buns


2 cups milk

1 1/4 oz package active dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp brandy

1 tsp powdered saffron

4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or more as needed

1/2-1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup dark raisins

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash


Photo: keibr

1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan just until warm and remove from heat. Combine 1/4 cup of the milk, the yeast, and a pinch of the sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Combine another 2 tablespoons of the milk, the brandy, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the saffron in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set the remaining milk aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour, the remaining sugar, the cardamom, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture, the dissolved saffron, and the remaining milk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually adding more flour as necessary, until a soft dough forms.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding just a little more flour if necessary, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny , and elastic. Knead in the raisins.

4. Shape the dough into a ball. Put it in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch log then twist ends of dough in opposite directions to form a figure eight. Place 1 raisin in center of each end and place the rolls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of a roll sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. Let cool on a rack and enjoy.