Santa Lucia Day is celebrated December 13. Her legend says that she carried food to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs, and that she was guided by a candle-lit-wreath she wore on her head. For this reason Saint Lucy Day celebrations frequently feature a child sporting such a wreath and walking through the dark winter – a wonderful sign of December in many parts of the world, but particularly in Scandinavian countries. Another facet of her legend says that during her martyrdom her eyes were gouged out and then restored, and the famous Saint Lucy buns are said to represent her plucked out eyes. Although it might sound revolting to adults, I can assure you my two boys think it’s wonderfully gruesome!
The following recipe can be adapted to be gluten or dairy free.
Santa Lucia Buns
Prep time: 75 minutes
Inactive time 60-90 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cook method: Bake
- 3 c. bread flour
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 2 1/4 t. instant yeast
- 1/2 c. butter, melted
- 3/4 c. whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F (i.e. warm but not hot)
- 1 t. saffron threads
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 T water
- 32 raisins
1. Chop the saffron threads and dissolve in a tsp of water.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. Mix the melted butter, whole milk, and saffron, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand for about 8 minutes or in a mixer for about 5. (The dough should be elastic and shiny.)
4. Knead for 1 minute by hand, then set in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise for 1 hour. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t rise much – it’s a dense dough.)
5. Cut the dough into 16 pieces (about 1.8-2 oz each if using a scale). Roll each piece into a “snake” about 6 inches long, then roll each end in opposite directions to form the distinctive “S” shape. Place a raisin firmly in the center of each curled up end.
6. Set the rolls on a parchment lined pan, cover loosely, and let rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the rolls with the egg yolk mixture and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
You can learn to bake such treats as these on a culinary tour with TIK! To learn more about holiday traditions, search our blog or browse by “Special Occasions.”
By Peg Kern
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