St Lucia buns: much better late than never!Posted: December 15, 2013
Once upon a time, I was not a very good baker.
In fact, I used to think that my baking was a lot like lingerie—fine for home, but certainly not to be taken out in public.
I’m a better baker now. Partly because I finally have a decent oven that doesn’t try to self-immolate in a blaze of overheated glory. I’m no longer on an embarrassing first-name basis with the guys at the fire station.
And partly because I finally figured out that baking is basically what happens when you combine chemistry, physics, and finesse.
I used to think it was all finesse, or good luck, or magic. It’s not. Once you understand what’s actually going on with the ingredients, you can finesse them any way you want.
Too bad it took me 40 years to figure this out!
Anyway. Here is one of my favorite things to bake: St Lucia buns!
They’re a saffron-scented yeast bread that’s just barely sweet. They’re nice when you don’t want an over-the-top treat.
St Lucia buns are a traditional Swedish bread. December 13 is the Feast of St Lucia, and a very big deal in Sweden. Lucy’s name means “light,” you see, and that is the one thing Swedes are quite prepared to celebrate in the dark of a Scandinavian winter.
Since BluesRay (that’s Mr Luray) is half Swedish, I try to make them every December 13, so I’m just a few days late. They’re good any time of year, though!
Try this great recipe from King Arthur Flour. Follow it step by step, and you really can’t go wrong.
I got my saffron from a thoughtful sister-in-law who used to live in Hungary. It must be cheap over there! This jar is going to last me a long, long time. You can see my mom’s 1952 wedding-present aluminum canisters on the counter. (Hi, Mom!)
Stir all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, add the milk and butter. Knead for 7 minutes—a stand mixer makes this easy! Then you let the dough rise, shape it, let it rise again, and bake. Yum!
Hands-on time is probably 25 minutes tops.
Now we need some glogg!