In Sweden Christmas is not Christmas without Lucia. The candlelit Lucia procession on 13 December is one of the more exotic-looking of our traditions, with girls and boys dressed in white full-length gowns singing Christmas songs.
At Lucia you eat ginger bread biscuits (pepparkakor) and sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter) shaped like curled-up cats with raisin eyes. You often have them them with glögg (warm mull wine) or coffee.
In Melbourne you can see Lucia at the Swedish Church on 21 St Georges Rd this coming Sunday at 5pm.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and heat until lukewarm.
Pour mixture into a large bowl and add yeast, stirring to dissolve. Add egg, sugar, saffron and 1 tsp salt. Gradually add flour, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a smooth yet sticky dough (if too much flour is added it will make the buns dry). Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
Punch down dough and knead on a lightly floured work surface for 30 seconds or until smooth. Divide into 4, then divide each piece into 8. Shape each piece into a 20 cm length, then form into an S shape, tucking ends into dough to form an 8 shape, and pressing to join. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place for another 40 minutes or until slightly risen.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place a raisin into each circle created by the 8 shape, then brush with beaten egg. Bake buns for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Note. Fresh yeast is available from bakeries and specialty shops, alternatively you can also use dry yeast.