Today is Santa Lucia, which is traditionally celebrated in the Nordic countries. It has become a festival of light, and in most kinder gardens and schools, the day is marked by children wearing white dresses and a crown of lights processing while carrying Lucia buns (lussekatter), sweet rolls made with saffron.
They also sing the Saint Lucy song, and the Norwegian version start with “svart senker natten seg…” which translates into “black the night descends….”
Which was the perfect introduction to my post, as I started making my second batch of this saffron bread early this morning, and took some of the pictures – hope you forgive the quality!
Since most people in Norway have their own recipe and make Lucia buns already, I thought I would post an alternative recipe, cue this Swiss saffron bread named cuchaule. Living in Switzerland, it was the closest thing I could find to a sweet yeasted bun, so I bought them quite often. Now back in Norway, where I can get the buns on every corner (literally) I find that the saffron elevates the simpleness of a wheat bun and makes it more sophisticated – and it tastes great too!
As mentioned, I made my second batch of this recipe early this morning, and that was because I originally made it with saffron threads. Unfortunately, that did not turn out well, even though I more than double the amount of threads stated in the original recipe. It did not tast of saffron and the breads were not light yellow. However, early this morning, I made them with saffron powder, and that was a different story! Flagrant, fluffy, slightly yellow breads – just as they should be! In addition to the taste, the advantage of using saffron powder in stead of threads is that you don’t have to soak the saffron in the milk overnight, and so can whip up a batch on the day, maybe even today?
Recipe Cuchaule, a sweet yeasted bread from Switzerland
Ingredients Yeast Sponge
- approx 850 g (6 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 pkg instant yeast
- 1 dl (a little less than half a cup) milk, luke warm
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 120 g (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 3 dl (a little less that 1 ¼ cup) half milk, half water
- 1 dl (a little less than ½ cup) half and half
- 80g (⅓ cup) butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 pkg (.25 grams – 0.1 ounce) saffron powder
- for the egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with a little milk (remember, you can freeze the egg white, or maybe use it for these)
In a large bowl (of your stand mixer) add the flour, then make a small indentation to make a well. Add the sugar and the instant yeast and pour over the first half cup of milk. Cover this with a little of the flour from the sides of the well and let sit for about 30 minutes until the mixture bubbles.
Add the rest of the ingredients, and let the dough mix on low for 5-8 minutes. Add more flour if the dough seems too sticky, but don’t overdo it.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size.
Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on your baking surface and turn the dough out. Knead a couple of times, then divide the dough in 3 parts and form each part into a large bun. Put on your baking sheet, cover and let rest for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 ° C (375°F).
Brush the saffron breads with the egg wash and use a sharp knife to cut a diagonal or rhombus pattern on the breads.
Bake for about 40 minutes in the lower half of the oven.