Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Very Swedish Christmas – Those crazy Lussecats

As I mentioned earlier – Swedish Christmas is full of baking goodness. And one of my absolute favorite foods from this season is the Lussekatt. It's tricky to translate this word, Lussekatt, but it is loosely – Lussecats. These are also known as saffron buns, as there is a pinch of saffron in the dough to give it its beautiful yellow hue.

(This is a picture of our first batch from today - as you can see I have showed great restraint by only eating 2)

Every year Lussekatter hit the shelves a little bit earlier, and Swedes tend to complain that the advance sale of Lussekatter diminishes their 'Christmas specialness.' I however have to restrain myself from doing the Balki Bartakamus dance of joy the first time I spy these delicious rolls for sale each year. Although, I admit, I don't think I would love them quite so much if they were available year round.

Lussekatter are my idea of the perfect food because they are carbohydratey goodness, with just a pinch of sweet. And I've always been a lover of great breads over sweets.

Every year there is much ado about the price of saffron around Christmas because everyone is out to bake the Lussekatter. Saffron is expensive because it is the little yellow dust collected from the pistons of some flowers. This process, apparently, has not been perfected by machine, and must be done by hand. This year I went bargain hunting and got 2 packets of saffron for 25 sek at Overskottsbolaget. If you decide to buy from the former Swedish monopoly Apotek (as I'm sure you have caught on how
much this Swedish shop annoys me), it will set you back 40 sek.

We just use the recipe for Lussekatter from the back of the yeast for sweet dough, nothing fancy. I've translated it below and have given a basic substitute for the ingredient that is tough to find in the US.

Theres rolls are worth the trouble, and even if you don't have a Swedish husband patient enough to shape them in the traditional Lussekatt form, you can always just make round rolls – the taste is the same! My Swede disappeared after our first batch of Lussecats were in the oven – leaving me to fight with batch number two. I persevered, although the results weren't as pretty. But hey, I don't have 30 years of experience making these cats.

(This is a picture of the traditional Lussekatter shape - this is after their second rising period - before they were glazed and raisined)

12 grams yeast (sweet)
5 dl milk
17 dl flour
100g butter (room temp)
250 kesella (If outside of Sweden substitute with an egg for best results – you can experiment with greek yogurt if you are feeling brave)
1.5 dl sugar
.5 teasp salt
1 gr saffron

1 egg

  1. preheat oven to 225 C
  2. Mix yeast into flour
  3. Add salt, sugar, kesella, saffron
  4. Add lukewarm milk (40 C)
  5. Mix together until you get an even dough
  6. Let rise for 30 minutes
  7. Place dough on lightly floured table and shape into 35 Lussekatter
  8. Place on baking sheet covered with baking paper
  9. Let rise 45 minutes
  10. brush lussekatter with whisked egg and place one raisin in each end.
  11. Bake in the center of the oven for 5-7 minutes

Enjoy the saffron goodness!


  1. My husband made these in the US last year and I was honestly not too into them. But I guess I should give them a try here in Sweden! I guess maybe they will have them tomorrow for Santa Lucia at the dagis.

  2. Thanks for the recipe! Suspect you've fallen victim to an out of control spellchecker though, as surely saffron comes from the stamens of flowers, not their "pistons"?!