[Swedish saffron and almond buns]
Sunrise: 9:33 AM
Sunset: 1:28 PM
The Swedish saffron and almond buns you see here were made on the twenty-fourth of November. Perhaps, it was a Tuesday. Or a Monday. But I remember how we made the dough the night before. And topped it with marzipan butter in the morning, just as a trumpet in the distance started playing Christmas melodies. I might have let them overproof as I went for a walk in the snow.
Yes, I might have.
Since then, I’ve made them countless times at the café and twice more at home. For a Christmas fika.
Today, I have a different kind of saffron buns proofing on my kitchen counter: lussekatter. A simple saffron dough, rolled and twirled into shape.
And I’m pretty certain that every house in Sweden also smells like warm saffron. And perhaps, if they’re as lucky as we are, of forest and cinnamon too.
Because it’s St Lucia today. And the third Sunday of advent.
But I’ll have to wait to show you the lussekatter, as the sun set hours ago and it’s now too dark to take pictures.
However, I’m sure that these bullar will make a perfect in-the-meantime treat. And possibly make you wish for a forever in-the-meantime moment.
Saffransbullar med mandelmassa
For these buns, I adapted my usual kanelbullar recipe by adding saffron to the dough. Here in Sweden, saffron is easy to come across and fairly inexpensive – compared to France or the UK. One of the things I find particularly pleasant, is that the saffron comes already ground so you don’t have to infuse it in warm liquid like I’ve been used to with the threads.
If you don’t have any ground saffron, simply bring the milk to the boil and soak/infuse the saffron threads in it for at least 30 minutes. You will have to wait for the milk to be completely cooled down before using in the recipe.
The filling recipe comes from my friend Suss, my one and only reference when it comes to all things related to Swedish baking. She’s an amazing baker and these buns alone prove it!
It’s really straight-forward: butter, marzipan, and the zest of an orange; and yet, it makes for the best saffron buns you’ll ever find.
Saffransbullar med mandelmassa
makes around 14-16
for the saffron dough
530 g strong flour
70 g caster sugar
16 g fresh yeast
10 g sea salt
0.5 g ground saffron (see note above)
3 eggs (150 g)
190 g whole milk
150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the almond butter
160 g salted butter, at room temperature
160 g marzipan
zest from 2 oranges
for the topping
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
a handful of pearl sugar
for the syrup
75 g caster sugar
75 g water
In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast, salt and saffron. Add the eggs and milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead by hand for around 20 minutes – if you’re making the dough in a stand-mixer, fit it with the hook attachment and knead on medium speed for around 10 minutes, until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl and feels: – smooth, elastic and barely tacky. If you take a small piece of dough, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin membrane.
Add the butter in three or four times – if making by hand; if you’re using a stand mixer, add the butter, one small piece at a time continuously until all the butter is in – and knead it in for around 10 minutes. The dough will “split” as you do so and butter will smear over your work surface, but keep on adding butter until it’s all used. Then knead the dough until smooth again. Place in a large bowl, and clingfilm to the touch.
You could proof the dough for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for at least another hour before using it, or refrigerate straight away for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
The next day, get two baking trays ready by lining then with baking paper. Make the almond butter by mixing all the ingredients until smooth and spreadable.
Slightly flour your work bench and tip the dough over. Roll into a 30 x 60 cm rectangle, around 5-6mm thick, with the short end facing you. Spread the almond butter evenly over the lower 2/3 of the dough. Then fold the dough into three, first the top part over the centre, then the bottom (and closest to you) over the rest. You should be left with a 30 x 20 cm-ish rectangle.
Cut 2cm wide strips and roll each into a knot, and place it on the prepared baking tray. Keep on going until all the strips are rolled.
Cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to proof for a couple of hours or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 185°C.
Brush the top of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire-rack using a palette knife and allow to cool down slightly.
For extra shiny buns, brush the top of your just-baked bullar with a simple syrup made of equal quantity of sugar and water brought to the boil.
Let me know if you try to make them :) Lots of love, and a wonderful week!
pS. If you want to follow my Swedish Christmas adventures, use #fannysjul on instagram. X