Lucia buns

Lucia Buns

Dark. Darkity dark dark. I know I sound like a broken record.

Although I do find the darkness overwhelming at times, one of the things I love about winter in Sweden is how the people here answer the darkness with an onslaught of lights. At this time of year, pretty much every window has some sort of lamp, advent candle arch, or star shaped paper lantern glowing in it. Businesses have torches burning outside their doors, and candles are lit everywhere. I’m burning through my own body weight in tea lights these days, and happily, a string of star shaped lights the previous owner of our apartment left behind is brightening up our balcony.

Fresh Yeast // The Muffin Myth

Previously, when Sweden used the Julian calendar (prior to 1753) December 13th was the darkest day of the year. Each year before dawn on December 13th, the oldest daughter of a family will enter her parent’s room wearing a white robe with a red sash, and a crown of seven lighted candles. The younger siblings will follow in a procession also wearing white and each holding one lit candle. The children will serve their parents mulled wine (glögg) and Lucia buns (lussekattor), and sing Lucia songs and other Christmas songs.

The celebration is now very public, with each city electing a Lucia, schools and office places also having a Lucia and procession of her maidens partake in a Lucia ceremony. You can see a video of a Lucia procession here.

Lucia Buns

I decided to try my hand at making some Lucia buns, a sweet, saffron scented yeasted bun. What I produced were probably the most gargantuous Lucia buns ever made:.

Regarding the size, the recipe said it made 45 buns and I made, well, 12. One day I’ll learn to follow instructions. But when I rolled out the little ropes of dough and twisted them into shape they *did* look like they would be the right size. It was only after I put them into the oven and they began puffing up that I realized how huge they were.

I think 45 would be a stretch, but you’d get 24 nice sized buns rather than 12 huge ones if you went that route. As for the colour, I found out after the fact that you can buy little packets of ground saffron. I used threads of saffron which we bought in Thailand last December. The saffron flavour is there, though, and not too overpowering as I find it can be sometimes.

In any case, I hope you’ll give these Lucia buns a try and enjoy the light they bring to this dark time of year.


This is 100% a moderation situation. These buns are all kinds of delicious, and all kinds of full of saturated fat, sugar, and white flour. Enjoy them, tis the season. Then go for a walk and admire the festive lights around your city, and later do some damage control. How about this roasted kale salad for dinner?

Lucia Buns

One year ago: Spicy Red Lentil Soup
Two years ago: Poached Eggs on Crispy Polenta

Lucia Buns

These slightly-sweet saffron scented Lucia buns are a Swedish holiday tradition. 

Course Baking
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 24 buns
Calories 214 kcal
Author Katie Trant


  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons active dried yeast or 50g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 6 cups all purpose flour or a blend of whole wheat and all purpose
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cube sugar or 1 tsp cognac
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour

For Garnish

  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 48 raisins


  1. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a sauce pan. Add the milk and heat to room temperature. If you're using active dry yeast, heat slightly more.

  2. Crumble the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer and add some of the milk, stirring until dissolved. Add the remaining liquid, salt, sugar, and 6 cups of the flour.

  3. Stir to combine, then use the dough hook to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.

  4. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  5. Crush the saffron with the sugar cube using a mortar and pestle, or mix with the cognac and set aside.

  6. In a medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup of butter with 2/3 cups of sugar until light and fluffy. 

  7. Add the egg and the saffron. Knead this mixture into the risen dough, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

  8. Knead until the dough is smooth and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

  9. Pre-heat the oven to 250C / 450F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease well with butter.

  10. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, and divide into 24 pieces.

  11. Roll each piece into a long rope, then coil the ends of the rope towards the center from opposite sides. Place each coiled bun onto the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise until almost doubled.

  12. Brush buns with beaten egg and garnish with raisins. 

  13. Bake on the center rack for 8-10 minutes. Buns should be puffed and golden, brown on the bottom, and sound slightly hollow when tapped.

Recipe Notes

  • I used a blend of all purpose, whole wheat, and high gluten bread flour in my Lucia buns. The original recipe calls for all purpose flour, I used 1/3 of each.

  • Do ahead: These buns can be made, and shaped, then kept refrigerated overnight or frozen for longer. Just be sure they come to room temperature for a final rise before baking. Baked buns will last about 3 days at room temperature in an air tight container, or about 3 months in the freezer.
  • Recipe adapted from Sju Sorters Kakor
Nutrition Facts
Lucia Buns
Amount Per Serving
Calories 214 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 29mg10%
Sodium 158mg7%
Potassium 79mg2%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 215IU4%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 31mg3%
Iron 1.7mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.




  1. mbakes (@mbakes_mbakes) says

    I have decided that I much prefer the size of your buns compared to the bakery. I think I’ve had this type of shaped confection in the mediterranean, but it was a biscuit as opposed to a bun.

  2. Jess says

    Oh these are so fun, and such a lovely insight into a Swedish tradition. My grandmother always had a little Lucia doll that she would set out under the tree, with the wreath and the candles on her head, but I never really knew the story behind it. Thank you!

  3. Sally says

    I admire the size of your lucia buns compared to the originals! the bigger, the better! They look amazing and while I’ve never had a bun of this variety before, something tells me I would just love it. They look irresistable!

    • themuffinmyth says

      The Lucia buns in bakeries are somewhere between mine and that other bun, so I don’t feel like I was *that* far off. If you like the flavour of saffron and eggy sweet breads, then you’d love these! I hope you give them a try some time.

  4. Orchidea says

    I totally agree with you about Sweden… I live in Stockholm and I understand what you say about darkness and light in winter here.

    Your lussekatt look really good! I love lussekatt and I will soon bake them too but with a recipe that I learned some years ago… with sourdought starter, here is my recipe:
    They are so easy to make but of course it takes a bit longer time to do them.


  5. Leanne says

    I absolutely would have made huge buns, too –especially if they looked reasonable prior to baking! These sound delicious and I’m a newcomer to baking with saffron, so I’m definitely intrigued.

    This question may have a painfully obvious answer, but why all the candles in Sweden? It sounds absolutely lovely, but I’m curious as to why Swedes light candles instead of (or in addition to?) turning on lights. Is it just tradition? The ambiance they create? Or is there some kind of energy consumption limit? Just wondering.

    • themuffinmyth says

      The candles are in addition to the lights. I think its partly tradition, partly because of ambiance, and partly just because it’s so dang dark out. But one of the families I work with lights candles at the breakfast table even in the summer time, so… I dunno. But there are definitely electric lamps and electric candle arches in a lot of windows in addition to the real thing.

    • themuffinmyth says

      Sweden is great! Although I recommend visiting in June, when the sun never sets, over December, though the darkness is pretty in it’s own way. Thanks for the kind words – maybe you could find a way to sneak beer into this recipe?

  6. Kathryn says

    I’m pretty sure I also would have made buns of a similar size (although the little ones are awfully cute). I actually prefer the golden-brown colour of yours; it makes me want to tear into one!

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