Making St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)

“Lucy cats” is another of their many names. With two little currant or raisin eyes on one end, they’d certainly be reminiscent of a cat with a fluffy curled up tail. Think? I took a big box of these to a party on Saturday and happened to be standing nearby when a woman blurted out “Somebody tell me which bakery these came from, because they’re the best rolls I’ve ever eaten!” I then had to pretend to be embarrassed as several people pointed over my way. Aw shucks, it was me. I was impossible to deal with for the rest of the evening, just ask the missus.

But that’s the sort of reaction these buns get. They’re fluffy and moist to the bite, exotic on the tongue and bewitching to the eye (they look like little flames to me). It’s a devastating combo. Plus you can make them start-to-finish in only a couple of hours. Oh yes, I’ll be making these again. Start by getting your ingredients together. Crush or grind the saffron as finely as you reasonably can. Add it to the milk and set the mixture on a low stove. Warm it and stir it but don’t simmer it. You just want to infuse the milk with all that lovely flavor and color. Set it aside to cool.


St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatter) Recipe

These lovely “S” shaped buns are commonly made with quark (kesella) but that’s not terribly easy to find in the States. Mascarpone is an excellent substitute (homemade if you’re feeling ambitious!). Crème fraîche can also be used, but sour cream is perfectly good as well. Most recipes for these call for fresh yeast, but I’ve converted it instant. As my dear departed grandmother Margaret liked to say “why not do it the easy way?” God she was a great lady. Anyway, here’s what you need:

1 gram saffron threads
16 ounces (2 cups) milk
2 lbs. 3 ounces (7 cups) all-purpose flour
4.5 ounces (2/3 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (20 grams) instant yeast
8 ounces quark or sour cream (room temperature)
3.5 ounces (7 tablespoons) soft butter
egg wash
raisins (optional)