Saint Lucia Day, also known as Saint Lucy Day is celebrated by observing Christians on December 13. There is a whole page dedicated to Saint Lucia on Wikipedia, and it’s fascinating. Concerning her feast day on the 13th and what goes down, here is a little excerpt from Wiki to get a “taste” of Lucy’s day.
“Lucy's feast is on 13 December, in Advent. Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light.
This is particularly seen in Scandinavian countries, with their long dark winters. There, a young girl dressed in a white dress and a red sash (as the symbol of martyrdom) carries palms and wears a crown or wreath of candles on her head. In both Norway and Sweden, girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung. It is said that to vividly celebrate St. Lucy's Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light.”
Another tradition is for the children in a family to serve their parent's breakfast in bed… typically hot tea, milk, and Saint Lucia Buns.
As far as the buns go there were many recipes to choose from. The basic concerning each recipe was saffron. The orange-yellow hue of the enriched Lucia Buns makes them a stand out, along with the shapes and the raisins at specific points on each shape.
So for this recipe, I mainly used what I had on hand. Some recipes call for an enriched dough using saffron for color and flavor. There was a lot that also included cinnamon or nutmeg, and one recipe adding Quark Cheese. So I played around and came up with a recipe that I am now in love with current craving.
Give my buns, I mean Lucy’s buns, a stab this Saint Lucia Day. Yo, Lucy! Here’s looking at you kid! (I know…I’m awful)
Saint Lucia Buns - makes 10 buns.
4 cups Bread Flour
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons ground cardamon
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
Turbinado Sugar or Crystal Sugar
24 large dried currants (May substitute golden raisin)
In a saucepan scald the milk (until it starts steaming) then remove from the heat. Add the butter along with the saffron and allow the butter to melt and the saffron to steep. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
In a stand mixer’s bowl, or if you will be kneading by hand in a large bowl, add the bread flour. On one side of the flour add the sugar and salt. On the opposite side add the dried yeast and cardamom. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and turn on medium-high combing all the dry ingredients.
Slowly pour in the warmed saffron milk. Once all the liquid has been added turn the speed up in the mixer to high. Add the crème fraîche to the bowl then turn the mixer speed up. Knead the dough for a good five minutes or until the dough forms a ball and is satiny smooth.
Lightly oil a bowl and place the smooth ball of dough inside. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot of your kitchen. Allow the dough to double in size, about an hour and a half. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, or well oiled.
Punch the saffron dough down and tip out onto a clean, smooth surface. Roll the dough into a log, even thickness, and cut into 12 equal sized pieces.
Roll 4 of the dough pieces into 10-11” ropes. Starting at each end, curl the ropes into an S shape. Roll the next 4 pieces into 10-11” ropes and shape into an A-line rooftop curling the ends up the side. This is supposed to symbolize and Ox? I think it looks like a Ram's head with horns… anyway, see my photos. Roll out the last four pieces to the previous lengths. Criss-Cross two of the ropes, and curl up the sides as you did the S shape. This is your “Christmas Cross”. Repeat with the last two ropes.
Place shaped Lucia Buns onto your prepared baking sheets. Loosely cover and allow the buns to rise for 30-40 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks along with with a splash of water. Once your buns have risen, brush the tops with the egg wash. In each of the curls of each of the shaped buns, add a currant or two. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado or crystallized sugar.
Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and serve your St. Lucia Buns warm.