These buns are traditionally served on St. Lucia’s Day—which always falls on December 13. Of course, they are delicious any time! Lightly sweet and saffron yellow, the lussekatter—or S-shaped buns—are best served with coffee.
Traditionally, in Sweden, the eldest daughter of the household served these buns to her parents on the morning of December 13, along with coffee, but you’re invited to make this tradition your own.
Stir salt and saffron into ¼ cup of the warm milk and allow saffron to steep. Dissolve yeast in water. Beat together egg and sugar. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the milk, yeast, and egg mixtures. Slowly beat in 4 cups of the flour and the cardamom (if using), keeping the batter smooth and elastic. Stir in the butter, then add enough flour to form a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning it over to grease the top, cover, and let rise until doubled (about 1-½ hours). Punch down, cover, and let rise again until doubled. To shape buns, roll dough into 8-inch strands the size of a pencil, and form into crosses with curled ends. Imbed a raisin firmly in the center of each curlicue. Place buns on lightly greased baking sheet and let rise 20 minutes until puffy but not doubled. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.