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A must among most Swedes, at least some time during the Christmas preparations and celebration, is the Swedish saffron bun called “Lussekatter”. Lussekatter is, in all its simplicity, a beloved tradition and can be varied a lot depending on what you and your taste buds prefer!

The most important thing to get fluffy perfect buns, except using fresh ingredients – of course, is to be very careful when measuring the flour. Too much flour equal dry and boring saffron buns. If you’re not used to baking, but want to try anyway, be sure to follow the recipe to the nail, and when measuring flour, scoop the flour into the measuring cup using a spoon. This way you’ll make sure the flour isn’t “pushed” into the measuring cup packing it too tight.

Another tips is to soak the raisins. By doing so, you make sure that the raisins doesn’t soak up any of the moisture from the bun, making the buns more dry in the process.

And even though I love the classic ones, I have to say…adding a little bit of pearl sugar does transform them to more of a pastry than a simple bun. The saffron buns can be stored in the freezer but as all freshly baked breads or buns, it’s always best the same day or the day after baking them!

God Jul! (Merry Christmas in Swedish)

Lussekatter – Swedish saffron buns

gives aprox. 40 buns

200 gram butter

5 deciliter milk

50 gram fresh yeast for sweet doughs

1 gram saffron + 1 tbsp granulated sugar

2 deciliter sugar or white Swedish syrup

1 tsp salt

13-14 deciliter flour

1 egg + 1 tbsp milk or water

Topping :


Pearled sugar


  1. Melt the butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan, when it’s melted, add the milk and heat to 37 degrees Celsius (or 98,5 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Crumble the fresh yeast into a large bowl and add the butter & milk mixture, stir until fully resolved.
  3. Use a mortar to ground the saffron with about 1 table spoon of sugar and add to the milk/yeast/butter in the bowl.
  4. Add salt, sugar or white syrup (”vit sirap” for baking) and flour a little at a time. Kneed the dough 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes in a stand mixer with the dough hook. The dough should be smooth and elastic when done. Attention! The dough SHOULD be a little bit sticky, do not add more flour, this will make the buns dry. I usually go for the smaller amount of flour because I know the result will be the best!
  5. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and leave it ro rise for about 45-60 minutes, until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius (or 225 if you use a convection oven) or 480 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. When the dough is ready, pour out into a clean surface very lightly covered with flour and kneed for a minute or two until smooth and elastic. Divide into 4 parts, moving three to the side, working only with one part of dough at a time.
  7. Use a rolling pin and make a square about 30 x 40 cm (11.8 x 15.8 inches.) Using a pizza slier or a sharp knife, cut/slice the dough in 10 equally large strips. Roll each slice in the same S-shape as the classic Lussekatter/Saffron buns, but with the cut side up. Gently place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Leave to rise under a kitchen towel for about 45-60 minutes.
  8. When it’s about 20-30 minutes left until the buns are ready to go into the oven, place raisins (two for each bun) in a bowl and cover with cold water. This will prevent the raisin to ”suck” moisture out of the bun.
  9. When ready for the oven beat the egg lightly and brush buns with egg. Add the raisins as in photos and sprinkle with pearled sugar.
  10. Bake in the middle of the oven about 5 minutes or until the Saffron buns are golden brown. Short and warm is the key, leaving them in for too long will make them dry.
  11. Let cool on rack covered with a kitchen towel