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A table spread with typical Swedish Christmas treats and decorations, mulled wine, nuts, gingerbread cookies, lussebullar and pine twigs.
Saffron buns, 'glögg' and gingerbread
'Glögg', or mulled wine, is a warm beverage best enjoyed during the cold weeks leading up to Christmas. It tastes even better if you drink it with gingerbread and saffron buns.
Photo credit: Emelie Asplund/

Saffronbuns ('Lussekatter') – recipe

Along with gingerbread, saffron buns are a seasonal treat Swedes make for Advent and Lucia in the run-up to Christmas. This sweet, saffron-flavoured bun, known as 'lussekatt' (directly translated as 'Lucia cat'), is typically shaped into the letter ‘S’ to look like a curled-up cat, with raisins for decoration to resemble the cat’s eyes.

About 35 buns.



  • 50 g of fresh yeast
  • 2.5 dl room temperature whole milk
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 350 g wheat flour (all-purpose flour)


  • 2.5 dl of room temperature whole milk
  • 150 g of granulated sugar
  • 200 g butter cut into pieces
  • 10 g of salt
  • 750 g wheat flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1- 1,5 g of saffron


  1. Begin with the starter. Dissolve the yeast in the milk by hand or in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and flour and work everything to an elastic dough, about 5 minutes in the stand mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Cover the dough and leave to rise to double size in room tempered place for about 30 minutes.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the saffron, just letting the saffron fry for a minute in the hot butter. (This makes the saffron taste more and better.) Let cool for a short while and then add this to the starter together with the rest of the ingredients for the finish. Work the dough properly until the dough is lovely yellow and elastic.  
  3. This takes about 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes in a stand mixer. Don't cheat with this, you want a lot of gluten in the dough and a really elastic dough. On a floured surface, divide the dough into small pieces weighing about 70 grams each. Round-roll (roll) to smooth round buns and gently transfer them to a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Make sure to leave some space between the buns as they will grow to about double the size) Leave the buns covered to rise to about double the size.  
  4. Roll the “dough-cigars” into thinner strings on a clean surface (no flour). Then shape these thin strings into “lussekatter” by spinning each end to each other in different directions, one to the left and one to the right. (The end result should look a bit like the number 8.) Push 1-2 raisins in the middle of each "spin". Put the buns gently on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Let the buns rest in a cool place (like in a cold basement or fridge) for about 4-5 hours. Then take the trays to room temperature and allow to rest until the buns are fluffy and almost twice as large. Bake in the middle of the oven at 220°C (435°F) until they get a little golden-brown colour and brush immediately after they get out of the oven with loosely whipped egg to make them shiny and nice. Let the buns cool and freeze those not eaten on the same day.

Recipe by Lisa Lemke

Article sponsored by

EU and Swedish Board of Agriculture