Saffransbullar med mandelmassa

[Swedish saffron and almond buns]

Swedish saffron and almond buns

Sunrise: 9:33 AM
Sunset: 1:28 PM
Temperature: -11.8°C

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

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Sunrise: 9:22 AM
Sunset: 1:33 PM
Temperature: 0.1°C

Over the next couple of weeks, days are going to get much shorter. This morning, after I went for a sunlit-walk around Nordanå, we potted the julhyacinter [Christmas hyacinths] that we got over the weekend.
Now a few hours later, candles have been lit up. In the tree. On the table. By the windows.

There is mjukt tunnbröd deg [soft flatbread dough] proofing in the kitchen. And a pressful of freshly brewed coffee.

What are your plans for the week?

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vanilla fudge

Sunrise: 9:20 AM
Sunset: 1:36 PM
Temperature: – 1.9°C

I made some fudge yesterday. Vanilla fudge, of the old-fashioned kind. And really, I have no idea what it even means – old-fashioned fudge – but I saw it somewhere and liked the sound of it.

Old-fashioned. Perhaps, with more ingredients than your standard condensed milk recipe. Perhaps, it’s the cream and sugar. Or the way it’s left to bubble on the stove to the lightest shade of gold.
In any case, I’m going with it. And the things it pushes us to reminisce about.

We left it to cool on the kitchen counter as we put on boots and wrapped ourself in warm sweaters. The road to Umeå was like a winter dream. Thousands of trees lined the salted asphalt. The bright winter sun warmed the blue hour into a golden one.


Not for long though; by the time we arrived at the Christmas market, it had already started to set. Leaving place to the candle-lights that Swedes seem to be so fond of. I am too, really.

On the way back, we might have picked up a julgran [Christmas tree] and spent the evening decorating it with Christmas songs and glögg. Oh and many vintage glass ornaments. But that’s another story for another time.

vanilla fudge-3

Adapted from this recipe by Phil Carnegie.

Growing up, fudge was always one of those mysteries. You know, the kind of food you’d heard about and yet never tasted. Because, in France, the closest thing we’d ever had was caramels au beurre salé [salted caramels]. Soft and chewy, except for the occasional flake of sea salt. With a smoothness that almost melts on the tongue.

I think I might have had my first bite of fudge in Canada. Right before we went to see the Niagara falls. I remember how the bus pulled by the road. With a fudge stand for only sight. I might be wrong, but we filled a brown paper bag with chunky pieces that lasted us through our entire trip.
There was this vanilla fudge. Slightly brown and with not a seed of vanilla to be seen. But it was my favourite. So I guess, that’s what I meant with the whole “old-fashioned”.

And now, more than ten years later, we’re in the north again. And here in Sweden, fudge appears on every julbord [Christmas table]. The julgodis [Christmas candies] tradition isn’t going anywhere. And perhaps, if I have time, we should go through all of them.

But for now, vanilla fudge. Old-fashioned or not.
I like to use homemade vanilla sugar for this as it gives the fudge an old-fashioned look with it’s many specks of vanilla; and a beautiful flavour.

Homemade vanilla sugar is one of those things I always have in the cupboard. And really, I think you should too. It’s very simple to make. Collect your used vanilla pods as you go (rinse them under warm water if they’ve been infusing cream or other dairy products) and keep them in an open jar for them to dry. When you have around 8-10 pods, bake them at 100°C for 30 minutes to get rid of any leftover moisture, then blitz them with 100g of caster sugar into a thin powder. Transfer to a 1L-jar and add another 700-800g of caster sugar. Close the jar with a lid and shake well. Voilà!


Makes a 20x20cm slab, around 40 pieces.

250 g double cream (whipping cream also works but I’ve found it makes a softer fudge)
300 g caster
75 g homemade vanilla sugar
75 g glucose syrup
75 g unsalted butter
1 heaped tsp of sea salt
300 g good white chocolate, finely chopped

Prepare a 20x20cm tin by oiling it lightly and lining it with baking paper. Set aside.

Place the cream, sugars, glucose syrup, butter, and salt in a pan larger than you’d think you need. Bring to the boil over medium heat, and then whisking at all times, cook the cream to 118°C.

Take the pan off the heat, and beat in the white chocolate using a heat-resistant silicon spatula (or a wooden spoon).

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and allow to cool down completely at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

Remove the vanilla fudge from the pan and place onto a chopping board. Cut into 3x3cm cubes, using a large knife. If you’re into sharper edges (I’m not, at least at home), wipe your knife clean in between each slices.

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