Saint Lucia Cats (Lussekatter)

Sweet buns are eaten year-round in Scandinavia. In December (in honor of Saint Lucia who is celebrated on December 12) saffron is mixed into the dough and then rolled into s-shaped “Lucia cats,” studded with dark raisins and baked.

Serves: 20Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 3 hours 55 minutesDifficulty: Medium


Serves: 20

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp. saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 packages dry active yeast (4½ tsp.)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 6½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 40 dark raisins, plumped in warm water
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. water

Directions

  • In a bowl or measuring cup, stir the saffron threads into the melted butter and allow to sit 1 hour.
  • In a saucepan, bring the milk to scalding over medium heat. Stir in the melted butter-saffron mixture, sugar, and salt. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, and cool slightly. Stir in the yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Stir the eggs into the liquid, then gradually add 3½ cups flour. Replace the paddle with the dough hook, then add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (you’ve added enough when the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl).
  • Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, turn to coat, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch down the dough, then knead it by hand 3–4 times on a floured counter. Pinch off egg-sized pieces of dough and roll them into 20, ¾"-thick ropes. Shape the ropes into S-shaped buns. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with the towel, and let rise for 1 more hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • In a small bowl, whisk egg white with water. When the “cats” have doubled in size, brush them with the egg wash and decorate with raisins (place raisins in the loops of the S). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.