These slightly-sweet saffron scented Lucia buns are a Swedish holiday tradition.
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.
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.
Stir to combine, then use the dough hook to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
Sprinkle the dough with a little flour, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Crush the saffron with the sugar cube using a mortar and pestle, or mix with the cognac and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup of butter with 2/3 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and the saffron. Knead this mixture into the risen dough, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.
Knead until the dough is smooth and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Pre-heat the oven to 250C / 450F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease well with butter.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, and divide into 24 pieces.
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.
Brush buns with beaten egg and garnish with raisins.
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.
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.