Monday, December 28, 2020

Swedish Saffron and Cardamom Buns

These Swedish Saffron Buns are also called St Lucia Buns or "Lussekatter". I call them "delicious!" :)

After seeing Karen's Saffron Buns, I knew I had to make them. The bright yellow color just intrigued me. Karen is part of a group called the Bread Baking Babes, and this recipe was their bread challenge for December 2020, hosted by Judy from the blog: Judy's Gross Eats.

Soft and fluffy buns!

This is my first time participating as a Bread Baking Babes "Buddy", and I proudly show off my badge! :)

Step by step photos:

Biga after a few hours on the counter

Look at that gluten formation in the biga!

Final Dough after the first rise!

Final dough after a few hours in the fridge. In the morning it was risen even more!

Different shapes: the traditional S shape, as well as a ring and simple round buns.

Egg washed, pearl sugared and cranberried :) Ready for the oven

Golden brown and delicious! Cooling down (which couldn't happen fast enough)

A close-up of the S buns

Look at that light and fluffy crumb. Bon appetit!

Swedish Saffron and Cardamom Buns

(adapted from Karen's Kitchen Stories)


  • 85 g KAF bread flour (13.7% protein), could use All Purpose Flour instead
  • 75 g cool water
  • 1/16 tsp yeast
Mix the biga ingredients together in a medium bowl and cover. Keep at room temperature until ready to use (up to 8 hours). I had something come up and ended having to refrigerate overnight after it sat on the counter for a few hours.

Final dough
  • Biga from above
  • "Yellow" water: grind 1/2 tsp of saffron threads + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar in a spice grinder. Pour into a small bowl with 1 Tbsp of hot water to dissolve the saffron + add 1/4 tsp ground turmeric.
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 75 g lukewarm (almond) milk
    • Extra: 2 Tbsp water (dough felt dry without it)
  • 6 g active dry yeast
  • 75 g plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 395 g KAF unbleached all purpose flour (11.7% protein)
  • 10 cardamom pods, with their shells removed and their seeds ground in a spice grinder
  • 5 g table salt
  • 28 g butter, room temperature
  • 28 g, extra virgin olive oil
Oven readiness
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp (almond) milk
  • A handful of dried cranberries (or your favorite dried fruit)
  • Swedish pearl sugar (~3 Tbsp)

  • Combine all the Final Dough ingredients, except the salt/butter/oil, in the bowl of a bread machine, and run the Dough Cycle for about 5-7 min. Turn off the bread machine and let the dough rest for 20 min. This step is called Autolyse.
  • Add the salt/butter/oil.
  • Now run the Dough Cycle on the bread machine. On my machine this is 30 min of kneading and 60 min of the First Rise. I did a window pane test on the dough after 20 min and it passed, so I stopped the machine, and let the dough rise in the turned off bread machine.
  • Something came up again and I couldn't bake the buns that night, so I put the dough in the fridge after the First Rise.
  • Took out the cold dough from the fridge in the morning and shaped it into buns while still cold. This really helped because the dough is soft and sticky at room temp. The dough felt really nice and silky; a pleasure to work with. I divided the dough into 12 pieces, which came to about 75 g each, and only lightly dusted my countertop with fine semolina flour.
  • Let the buns rise again. The second rise took about 1 hour for me.
  • About 30-40 min into the second rise, I preheated my oven to 400 F.
  • Brush the buns with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp milk), put a raisin in the middle of each S (I used dried cranberries), and sprinkle with Swedish pearl sugar.
  • Baked the buns for 10 min, and then reduced the oven temp 365 F, and baked them for another 5-7 min. 
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Final thoughts & tips
  • These buns were so incredibly light and fluffy, and they smelled amazing!! They had great flavor from the biga and the cardamom. Their bright yellow color is so pretty!
  • We ate ours slightly warm, with some butter and homemade persimmon jam. Yum!
  • Hubby loved these! He said they were nice and soft, with great flavor and a nice crunch from the pearl sugar on top. He rated them a 9.5 out of 10!!! :)
  • You can skip the biga and combine the Biga and Final Dough ingredients in one shot.
  • My buns weighed about 75 g each which initially looked OK. However, they had a lot of oven spring and became pretty big, so I'm thinking for next time I should reduce their weight to 55-65 g each. Some of the buns in the middle of the baking sheet didn't bake as evenly, so for next time I would use two baking sheets. I will also space them apart more so they don't "kiss" each other during the oven spring :)
  • This dough was such a pleasure to work with that I'm thinking of using it for other applications (if needed, without the saffron and/or cardamom)
    • Semlor (Swedish Cream Buns)
    • Cinnamon Rolls
    • Dutch "Puddingbroodjes"
    • Reduce the sugar by half and make sandwich rolls
  • Bon Appetit!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous! I really like the wreaths too. I had the same experience with needing two baking sheets the next time. And now very curious about your persimmon jam, never had that before! Only persimmon bars a couple times. :)

    1. Thank you, Kelly! We're blessed with persimmon trees so we made jam. It's really good. You use really ripe Fuyu persimmons and mash them with a potato masher (some chunks are ok). Cook with some lemon juice and a little sugar until thickened, and then you can your jars :)

  2. Wonderful!! My favourite new shape is the wreath. But where are the candles in the wreaths? ;-)

    I'm curious about the turmeric. Could you taste it? And did it interfere with the distinctive yet delicate flavour of saffron?

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Haha!

      I personally could not taste the turmeric. And I just realized I have a typo in my recipe which I'll fix shortly: I only used 1/4 tsp of turmeric. I think it did more for the color than the taste, which was as intended :)

  3. Beautiful! Love the different shapes you made.

    1. Thank you, Judy! Such a fun and delicious recipe you picked. Thank you for hosting and for sending me the BBB Buddy badge :)

  4. This recipe looks challenging, but the outcome looks great. Hope you are doing well. Missing the State Fair this year :(

    1. Good to hear from you! I hope you're doing well :)
      Thank you. These buns were so aromatic, fluffy and delicious. I hope you give them a try sometime ☺️
      Btw, we moved to west coast. No more cold weather and snow for us 🤣

  5. That biga is spectacular, and your shaping is wonderful!! I'm so glad you baked as a buddy!

    1. Thanks Karen! Your pictures inspired me to make these. I'm so glad I did!!


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