St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)

St. Lucia Buns

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Prep: 2 hrs
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Yield: 20 buns
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
156 Calories
11g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 156
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 49mg 16%
Sodium 210mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 48mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lussekatter, or St. Lucia buns, are traditionally eaten in Sweden on the 13th of December in celebration of Saint Lucia, the patron saint of light. Before the Gregorian calendar began in the 18th century in Sweden, the shortest day of the year and the winter solstice fell on December 13. Traditionally, the golden saffron-infused buns are served on the morning of the 13th by the eldest daughter of the family, who is dressed in a white robe with a wreath of candles crowning her head. Nowadays, St. Lucia buns are also prepared throughout the period of Advent, as well as on the solstice in celebration of light.

The buns are often formed into an "S" shape, resembling a curled up cat, with raisins for decoration to signify the eyes. They can be served warm from the oven with butter, or prepared in advance, frozen, and then defrosted in an oven or microwave.


  • 1/2 teaspoon finely crumbled saffron threads or 1 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) dry active yeast
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 egg white
  • Raisins or currants for decoration

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Crumble the saffron threads into the melted butter. Let stand for 30 minutes to one hour to infuse the butter with the saffron.

  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it reaches the scalding point, or when small bubbles form all over the surface. Turn off the heat and stir in the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour the mixture into large mixing bowl and cool until cool to touch but still warm. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

  4. Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into the liquid to blend and then stir in the 2 beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl), without adding too much flour and drying out the dough.

  5. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and turn to evenly coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  6. Punch down the risen dough and lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough, about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, and roll into ropes or "snakes," about 3/4-inch in diameter. Shape the snakes into "S"-shaped buns or other desired shapes. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel and let rise again until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  7. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  8. Brush the eggs with the remaining egg white and then decorate the buns with the raisins. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

  9. Serve and enjoy.


Be sure to decorate the buns with raisins after glazing the dough with the egg white, to prevent the raisins from burning.