A couple of days ago, Rikke and I went completely kitchen crazy. While Rikke was making Danish liver pâté and rye bread, I found my old Lussekatter recipe. Lusekatter is a kind of saffron buns that you eat throughout December in Sweden. Saffron isn’t a very common ingredient in Nordic cuisine, and I usually associate it with Spanish paella, but it is in fact very tasty when used in baking. Lussekatter are delicious, piping hot and moist, straight from the oven, and they are one of the things that really remind me of my years in Göteborg.
Like most people in Sweden I’ve always made my lussekatter with Kesella (quark/fromage blanc from the Swedish dairy producer Arla), as it has been common sense among Swedes for years, that adding Kesella makes the lussekatter more moist.
Though, this year, there has been fierce debate in Sweden about whether it is actually the case or if it’s merely a myth, resulting from a well-executed PR trick from Arla. Judging from various expert opinions, it seems that the latter is the case, but as I’ve always made my Lussekatter with Kesella, it takes more to shake my faith in Kesella’s qualities. It’s like telling a child that Santa doesn’t exist:)
Lussekatter (around 20 pieces):
1 1/4 / 3dl milk
150 g quark (can be substituted with fromage blanc)
1oz/25g fresh yeast
0.5 g saffron
½ tsp. salt
1/2 cup/1dl sugar
2 egg (one for the dough and one for brushing)
5.5 cups/13 dl flour
Raisins for decoration
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the milk and heat the mixture. Test the temperature with your finger. It should be slightly warm, but not too hot. Add the yeast, remove the pan from the heat and stir until the yeast is dissolved.
If you are using saffron threads (recommended) remember to grind them before use. This can be done with a mortar and pestle or an electrical grinder. You can also just use the backside of a spoon on a cutting board, but make sure that the threads are properly ground so the color and flavor comes out.
Add salt, sugar and saffron.
Pour the mixture into a big bowl and add the quark. Beat the egg lightly before adding it to the mixture.
Add the flour little by little. The dough should be tender, and you probably would not be needing all the flour.
Knead the dough 15 minutes or until it feels is smooth and supple. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Knead the dough thoroughly again.
Take a piece of dough, the size of a scone, and roll it into a 20cm long sausage. Form the sausage into an “S”, and curl the ends a little extra (see pictures below). Flatten the Lussekatt a little with your fingers. Place the Lussekatt on baking paper on a baking tray.
Repeat this procedure until the dough has been used. It will get you around 15-25 lussekatter.
Let the buns rise again on the baking tray for 20 minutes.
Brush the buns with egg and decorate with raisins.
Bake the buns in the oven for approx. 8 minutes at 200°C degrees in a convection oven (225°C in a conventional oven). Baking time depends on the size. If your Lussekatter are on the taller side (larger than an ordinary scone), increase the baking time.
Want more Swedish Christmas? Read about our visit to Christmas at Liseberg in Gothenburg