Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Bread Baking Babes Bake St. Lucia Cats or Luskatter

The description of a young girl with a wreath lit by candles perched on her head walking through her home serving coffee and saffron buns has often intrigued me. How does the family decide when the youngest is old enough to handle lit candles? Is the long white robe with red sash passed on to the next daughter when it's her turn or does she get a new one? Most of all I wondered how those buns would taste. Now I know! For December our Kitchen of the Month is Judy of Judy's Gross Eats and she has asked us to make Luskatter, those swirly saffron buns made for St. Lucia's Day, December 13th.

I used a recipe from The Festive Bread Book by Kathy Cutler as my starting point because the recipe made fewer buns, used saffron plus citron and lemon zest for flavor and fragrance, and because I've made recipes from that book before and they always work out. I did change things around a bit since I decided to use my stand mixer instead of kneading by hand, but the basic recipe proportions and amounts are the same and the ingredients are only changed if they are dairy.

These buns are really delicious in a subtle way. They don't have the nuts and mixed fruits, nor the icing that seasonal breads often have. The saffron gives a lovely golden color and flavor to the buns and citron and lemon have a nice citrus tang. Even the currants are subtle. They look like eyes but don't really add much in the way of flavor, even with the brandy that I soaked them in (which wasn't in the recipe). I do like the shape, where the ends are curled in the same direction, giving them an 'S' shape. The buns themselves are fairly tight crumbed and rich with egg and butter and milk. They are not very sweet, except for the sugar on top. I'll probably skip that if I make them again since I like the faint sweetness.

As usual, we are hoping that you would like to be a Bread Baking Buddy. To do so just bake the buns, take a photo and email Judy the details of your bake by Dec. 29th. She'll send you a Buddy Badge and include you in the round-up. Her email can be found on her blog.

Do visit the other Bread Baking Babes sites to see their Luskatters! We have some very creative bakers in our group, so it is sure to be interesting.

Wishing you, dear reader, a most happy holiday season, and a safe, healthy one, too. May 2021 be better for all of us!

St. Lucia's Cats

A variation of a recipe in A Festive Bread Book by Kathy Cutler
Makes 8 buns

 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F)
two pinches saffron
1/4 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees F) (I used soy creamer)
2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, softened (I used non-dairy margarine)
3 tablespoons chopped candied citron
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (1 lemon usually)
2 teaspoons currants
brandy to cover

 Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water.

 DIRECTIONS: Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes. Stir saffron into warm milk. Set aside.

 In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.

 In a stand mixer bowl, place the saffron milk, egg and yeast mixture. Mix to combine. Add 1 cup of the flour mixture and mix to combine. Add the butter, a bit at a time, then mix to combine. Add the citron and lemon zest. Mix to combine.

 Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Knead with the machine or on a floured surface until smooth - about 10 minutes.

 Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover with a clean shower cap or plastic wrap/cling film. Let rise in a warm place until double  - about 1 hour.

 Punch down dough. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a snake about 8 or 9 -inches long, then curl the ends in the same direction, resulting in an S shape. Place on greased baking sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap/cling film. Let rise in a warm place until double - about 20 minutes. While that is happening, soak the currants in the brandy. Once rolls have doubles, place a currant in each curl. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.

 Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes, or until done. Cool on wire rack.


  1. We do like currants and used to use them all the time, I will have to try that traditional take as well. When I wore a Lucia crown, it had battery operated candles. Not sure if that is traditional!

  2. I love your addition of citrus!

  3. I do love the shape you got! and citrus is a marvelous addition. I thought these were really wonderful.

  4. Oooh!! What a great idea to add citron and lemon juice for extra flavour. Your Lucia buns look beautiful!

  5. Citron and citrus...I bet they smelled and tasted wonderful.

  6. I always had nightmare visions of my hair catching on fire..... But it is a pretty picture.
    As are your buns!

  7. Beautiful. Love the addition of citron and lemon.
    Season's Greetings & Happy Holidays.