Swedish St. Lucia Saffron Buns with Mulled Malbec Wine


Every year, right before Christmas, we make these buns to celebrate the Swedish holiday known as St. Lucia. This provides the perfect opportunity for everyone in the house to spend some time baking together and to show off their special technique for forming the perfect ‘S’ shape.

Once the buns are finished baking, the house smells of buttery saffron balanced by a subtle sweetness you’ll absolutely love. A real delight for the senses! I love pairing these with my Magical Mulled Malbec Wine recipe. I hope you enjoy making, baking and savouring these buns as much as my family and I do!

The key ingredient in these festive buns is saffron. I recommend using high quality saffron threads. The beautiful brilliant yellow colour and savoury flavour these delicate threads impart on the dough is well worth the extra expense. It’s Christmas time…go ahead and indulge a bit!

Look at the beautiful vibrant yellow with bits of red saffron speckling through. You can’t get a more festive dough than this!

When forming the ‘S’ shapes, try not to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the dough to be dry. I roll the ‘worms,’ as my son calls them, by hand and form the ‘S’ shape directly on the baking sheet. As the dough is a bit sticky, this method works best. They don’t have to be perfect looking. The rustic individuality of everyone’s bun creation is a treasure in itself!

Now, that you’ve formed the buns, let them rest for 20 minutes. Good things come to those who wait!

While the buns are rising, set your oven to 250°C and prepare your egg wash. Once the buns have risen, bathe those beauties in the egg wash. I use a pastry brush because it gently covers the buns. Then dress each of the buns with two raisins and bake them in the oven for 5 minutes! Place your baking tray higher in the oven, as this will give them the shiny golden brown colour when finished.

Wow! Look at those saffron buns! The gorgeous colours are something to treasure.

Enjoy these buns with my Magical Mulled Malbec Wine recipe. It’s a perfect Christmas pairing!

Swedish St. Lucia Saffron Buns

A Swedish holiday treat that's full of saffron and not too sweet!
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time14 minutes
Total Time1 hour 44 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Swedish
Keyword: mulled wine, Saffron buns, St Lucia
Servings: 3 dozen


  • Pestle and Mortar
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Baking Sheets
  • Pastry brush


  • 50 grams dry active yeast
  • 1 gram saffron threads
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 200 grams unsalted butter
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 130 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 900 grams plain flour
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 50 grams raisins


  • Add the yeast to a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a pestle and mortar, crush the saffron threads together with the sugar cubes and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour in the cold milk. Heat the mixture until lukewarm.
  • Pour almost all of the butter and milk mixture over the yeast. Then pour the remaining amount over the saffron and sugar mixture and add to the buttery, yeast mixture.
  • Add the salt, sugar and eggs to the mixture and stir together until combined.
  • Add the flour to the mixture a little bit at a time, creating a dough. The dough shouldn't be too sticky. It should come away from the sides of the bowl but not be too dry.
  • Once the flour is combined, cover the bowl with a towel and leave in a warm, dark place for 20 minutes. The dough should rise to twice its original size.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use the flour sparingly.
  • Form little balls that are about 3cm wide and roll them into 'worm-like' figures that are approximately 1cm wide x 15cm long.
  • Form them into equal size 'S' shapes on a well-buttered baking sheet. Leave a space between the buns, as they will increase in size.
  • Once the baking sheet is full, cover again with a towel, leave in a warm, dark place for another 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes has passed, set the oven to 250°C and prepare your egg wash.
  • Once the buns have risen, paint the buns with an egg wash using a pastry brush.
  • Press two raisins into each of the buns.
  • Place the buns in the highest level in the oven and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm.
  • Pair with a mug of my Magical Mulled Malbec Wine.