Scandinavian traditions have always been a favorite part of the Christmas season for me – I love all the decorations and delicious baked treats. One of the most fascinating for me is Lucia Day, celebrated on December 13th. The crown of candles is so beautiful! I fondly remember reading about the story in my Kirsten American Doll book, haha.
This year I decided to get a little festive and make a batch of the traditional saffron buns. Gluten and I have officially broken up so I spent some time researching recipes and finally tested out this gluten free version. It has a nice texture and is sweetly scented with cardamom, one of my favorite spices. Greta had fun making them with me and I hope we can carry on the tradition every year – maybe one day I will make her a crown of candles and she can be my little Lucia.
Makes 16 Buns
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground psyllium husk
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used this blend)
Raisins to decorate
Melt butter in a small saucepan and add milk. Let the milk warm up slightly, to about 105 degrees. Pour the milk and butter mixture into a mixing bowl and add 1 teaspoon sugar, psyllium husk and the yeast. Give it a quick stir and let the mixture sit until the yeast bubbles, about 10 minutes. Add the saffron, remaining sugar, salt, xanthan gum, 1 egg, cardamom and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and mix for 5 minutes using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave in a warm part of the kitchen for 30 minutes to rise. Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough a few times until it becomes elastic. The dough will be very sticky at first so be generous with the flour! Pinch off a small ball about 1.5″ diameter and roll into a log, forming into an “S” shape. Cover the buns with a towel again and let rise another 30 minutes. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the buns. Dot each end with a raisin to decorate and bake for 10-12 minutes. Traditionally served in the morning with hot coffee to sleepy parents by the eldest daughter of the house, dressed in white with a crown of candles.
*adapted from this recipe