Tuesday, 9 December 2014

St Lucia saffron buns

There is something in the Scadinavian bakery that makes me love it every time. It is so honest, so truthful, so made for confort that you simply cannot beat it. I particularly love their sweet breads. This buns, to celebrate St Lucia on 13th December are simply a bread dough enriched with butter and egg. But you will need the time and the star ingredient, saffron, to make them the right way. Once you have tried them, you will repeat, as they are simply delicious. 

I would only warn you about the saffron. It will add a gorgeous colour to the buns, but it is a really powerful spice, so you'd like to be caoutious with it, or its flavour will overpower all the other flavorus in these buns. Once you adjust the exact quantity, you will have these beauties once and again. They are simply perfect, for St Lucia, or any other day in the year.

St Lucia Saffron Buns

300ml whole milk
3 or 4  saffron threads
75g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
500g strong white bread flour
100g golden caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action yeast
A teaspoon of salt
1 large egg, beaten, plus extra for egg wash
A little oil, for greasing


Put the milk in a small pan and gently heat until it’s steaming. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron into a powder. Add this to the pan of milk along with the butter. Swirl to melt the butter, then set aside until lukewarm. 
In a large bowl, mix the flour, caster sugar, 1 tsp salt and the yeast together, and make a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour in the milk mixture along with the egg. Mix together to form a sticky dough, then turn out onto the work surface and knead until smooth and elastic (this will take about 10 mins). Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Set the bowl in a warm part of the house and allow to rise for about 1 hr until doubled in size. 
Knock back the dough and divide into 12 equal portions. Cover the pieces with the oiled cling film while you make the rolls – this will stop the dough from drying out. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out into a 30cm-long strand. Roll up one end into the middle, turn over and roll the other end into the middle, forming the dough into an S-shape. Place the buns on a large (or 2 smaller) parchment-lined baking tray. Once all the buns are made, lightly cover with oiled cling film and prove until almost doubled in size (if making ahead, keep the dough in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning). While the buns prove, heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 
When ready to bake, brush the buns with beaten egg and press a currant into the centre of each spiral. Put the trays in the oven and bake for around 15 mins. Allow to cool before serving. These are best eaten on the day they are made but will keep for a couple of days.