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Dec 16, 2020

Swedish-Style Saffron Buns

These Swedish-style saffron buns are wonderful for breakfast, especially served warm from the oven with jam. 

These saffron buns are light and slightly sweet and sprinkled with Swedish pearl sugar. They are made with a dough for St. Lucia buns (or lussekatter), which are normally shaped into an "S" and studded with raisins or currants. 

I've posted St. Lucia buns on this site, including one using whole wheat flour. When Judy of Judy's Gross Eats, our host kitchen for this month's Bread Baking Babes bake, proposed these, I decided to make them into easy round buns. 

You can definitely shape this dough traditionally. 

To shape the dough into St. Lucia buns, just divide the dough into 12 pieces and form each piece into a 14 inch snake. Coil each end toward the middle to form the "S" shape. 

I definitely wanted to try this dough for today's bake because the recipe is lighter on sugar and butter, which can make enriched bread come out heavy and dense if you don't handle it just right. Even if you are not an experienced bread baker, as long as you use a kitchen scale, you'll experience success with this recipe. 

In fact, I had pretty much sworn off making brioche until I found olive oil brioche. It is a revelation. 

I topped these rolls with some Swedish pearl sugar. You can omit the pearl sugar, but I love how pretty it looks on these rolls. 

You can fill these with raisins or currants too if you like. 

These rolls would be wonderful for Christmas breakfast, and if you have any leftovers, be sure to use them for an amazing bread pudding. 

These are also delicious split, toasted, buttered, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. 

Because there are just two of us, I like to individually wrap the baked buns and freeze them in a freezer bag. I'll take one out of the bag the night before to thaw, and have it for breakfast. 

It's delicious with my cousin's homemade "Better than Knott's" boysenberry jam from her home grown boysenberries. 

The Bread Baking Breads have been baking together every month since at least 2008. That's almost 150 bread recipes. 

Be sure to check out Judy's post for how to participate as a Bread Baking Buddy. 

Judy adapted the recipe from Simply Recipes. I also added some techniques from Bake from Scratch, November/December 2018. I liked their technique of steeping the saffron in vodka. Traditionally, the vodka is infused with saffron overnight. 

Swedish-Style Saffron Buns

Saffron and Cardamom Buns
Yield: 12 Buns
Author: Karen Kerr
These saffron and cardamom buns are wonderful for breakfast, especially served warm from the oven with jam.


  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 2/3 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used SAF gold)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or quark if available), room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups (480 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to about 60 degrees F
  • Swedish pearl sugar for garnish (optional)


  1. In a mortar and pestle, grind 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the saffron. Place the mixture into a small bowl and add the vodka. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. 
  2. In a saucepan, heat 2/3 cup of milk and 1/3 cup of sugar over low heat until the mixture reaches 105 degrees F. Let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the instant yeast, sour cream, one of the eggs, and the vodka saffron mixture. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. 
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the dough hook, place the milk mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add half of the flour mixture. Knead for 3 minutes. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each piece is fully incorporated until adding the next one. This should take about 5 minutes. 
  5. Slowly add the remaining flour and salt mixture until incorporated. Knead for about 15 minutes more. 
  6. Spray a dough rising bucket or large bowl with spray oil and place the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place each, seam side down, onto the parchment paper. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  8. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk and brush the risen rolls with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the Swedish pearl sugar. 
  9. Bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
lussekatter, St. Lucia, saffron
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Be sure to check out the rest of the Bread Baking Babes St. Lucia Buns:

Would you like to comment?

  1. Beautiful saffron buns! I like the round shape, and the pearl sugar on top adds a nice appeal. I'll have to try that sometime.

    1. Pearl sugar is great because it doesn't melt!

  2. Yes! When I saw the beautiful little pull away sections where mine touched and baked together a little, just like lovely dinner rolls, I knew the dough would be wonderful for that as well. And saffron cardamom dinner rolls? Twist my arm!

  3. Only at breakfast? Oh dear I've been enjoying them all day: with coffee, tea in the afternoon and dare I say wine in the evening.
    Vodka, you used vodka and poor me just used water. Pearl sugar is beautiful.
    These are lovely as just simple round buns, it really is true these are perfect in just about any shape.
    Now I best be checking out that olive oil brioche!

  4. Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

    Vodka, eh? Hmmm, and here's me - I haven't yet actually made our BBB Lucia buns, even though I've planned out how I'm going to make them into sourdough Lucia buns. But... shall I add a little vodka?

    1. I'm not sure why, but it was fun trying it!

  5. Making the buns rounds since you had already done the traditional shape was genius. Perfect for breakfast with the jam and a hot beverage. Pearl sugar is so pretty. I keep forgetting to buy some to play with but you have inspired me.

  6. I'm not sure which I covet the most - the buns or the homemade boysenberry jam.... Sigh.....
    Both sound divine!

    1. The jam is definitely wonderful! Thanks Katie.

  7. Those buns are golden and gorgeous! I used pearl sugar too.
    Season's Greetings & Happy Holidays.

  8. where is the cardamom?

    1. Nice catch! The recipe these were adapted from had some but I left it out.


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