These St. Lucia buns are not authentically Swedish. For one I have no Swedish ancestry, but more importantly they don’t contain saffron. It’s not because I don’t like saffron. I do! Saffron is fantastic in risotto and paella. To my surprise I even had just the right amount of saffron left in the spice cupboard to make St. Lucia buns. Unfortunately, in my attempt to alter this recipe by replacing the sugar with honey I caused my saffron milk to curdle. Apparently the average pH of honey is 3.9 and if you try to dissolve honey in milk on the stove the milk will curdle. It was a lesson learned.
Sadly I couldn’t use the saffron honey curdled milk to make the buns so I came up with another plan. I made another batch of scalded milk but I added orange zest and juice into the dough instead. Here is a recipe for saffron free orange flavoured St. Lucia buns.
Adapted from St. Lucia Buns from Eat Live Run.
Makes about 2 dozen buns.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
zest of one orange
1/4 cup orange juice (about half an orange)
5 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup honey)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
For the egg wash:
2 Tbsp. water or milk
In a small saucepan add the butter and milk bring them to nearly a boil (scald the milk). Remove the mixture from heat and let cool to lukewarm temperature. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Using a large mixing bowl mix flour, salt and cardamom together. Add the milk-butter mixture and mix. Add the orange zest and orange juice (and honey is using instead of sugar) and continue mixing. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes by hand or machine. If the dough is sticky after a couple minutes of kneading add more flour a tablespoon at a time.
Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and put in a warm location. Rise for one hour.
Divide the dough into 2 ounce balls (the size of large egg) and roll each ball into a log. Shape the logs into an “S” shape and tuck the ends under making a figure eight or infinity sign. Place the shaped dough on a greased cookie sheet or a sheet covered with parchment paper. Let them rise for another 40 minutes to an hour in a warm place.
Preheat the over to 400F. Whisk an egg and two tablespoons of water or milk in a small bowl. Tuck raisins into the dimples of the dough and brush the buns with the egg mixture. I put my raisins in before the second rise and they were popping out after being baked. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes rotating the pans half way through to ensure even baking.