These little buns are traditionally made and enjoyed in Sweden on the 13th of December, known as St Lucia's Day. The history of the Lucia buns (or light buns, since St Lucia is a saint associated with lights) is pretty cute. According to legend, on December 13, 1764, a gentleman in Sweden was roused in the middle of the night by a beautiful voice. He saw a young woman in white moving through his room singing. She had wings and was carrying a candle. She was revealed to be Lucia the Saint. She brought light, food, and wine as comfort on what was, in the old Gregorian calendar, the longest night of the year. She's still an important cultural icon and the holiday celebrating her is still very much alive. (A bit off-topic, I even had a perfume some years ago which was named in her honor and that was supposed to smell like "warm light". The model posing for the perfume's commercial was a very pretty Northern-type of beauty with almost whitish hair and very large eyes.)
Recipe source(s): here, here and here.
Last year: Ciorbă de burtă falsă (Romanian shiitake and chantarellus mushroom soup).
Two years ago: Crispy duck with five spices (Chinese).
Three years ago: Tapenade, wild mushroom and red onion galette (vegan).
Four years ago: Romanian and Moldavian "Tochitură" with polenta.
Ingredients (makes 12):
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 250 ml tepid milk
- 500 g strong white flour
- 7 g satchel of dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 50 g golden sugar
- 50 g butter, melted
- 100 g quark cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- a handful of raisins + 24 large raisins
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Warm the milk and let the saffron steep in it for 10 minutes at least (I think that just looks beautiful; not to mention the addictive smell):
Put the flour, salt and the yeast in a medium bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the milk in it and gently mix. Add the sugar, melted butter and the cheese and mix until even. Also add the handful of raisins and mix. Your dough should look like this:
Let it rise at room temperature for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough in two. Take the first half and divide it in two again, then each part into 3 balls. Roll each of these balls into a rope, and curl its ends in order to make it resemble an "S".
Put a raisin in both ends of the S, in the curl. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Use the egg yolk to brush the breads. Look, they already started to rise again:
Put them in the preheated oven and bake them for 20-25 minutes or until done and lightly golden. Take out and eat them plain, or with butter, or with warm milk. It's done, dig in! :)