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Catholic Recipe: Saffron Bread


  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp saffron powder
  • 8 cups strong plain flour (all purpose flour)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup castor (table) sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • beaten egg for brushing
  •  Topping:
  • 1 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp coarsely crushed cube sugar


Prep Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: • •

Cost: $$$$

For Ages:11+

Origin: Sweden


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Also Called: Saffronsbrod

On December 13 people in Sweden celebrate St. Lucy's Day. They remember how Lucia, a young girl, brought food to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs in Rome during the time of Emperor Diocletian. In order that she could carry the food and see where she was going in the dark, Lucia wore candles on her head. On St. Lucy's Day each year by tradition one of the daughters of the family is chosen to be St. Lucy. She gets up early and takes coffee and 'Lucia' buns (Saffronsbrod) to the rest of the family who are still in bed. She dresses in a white robe with a scarlet sash and wears on her head a crown of green leaves with five candles in it. Sometimes she is escorted by boys dressed in long white shirts and pointed hats, called star boys.


1. Dissolve sugar in the warm water and add yeast.

2. Mix the saffron powder with 1 tbsp hot water.

3. Leave about 20 minutes, until frothy.

4. Sift flour and salt and rub in the butter. Add castor sugar, cardamom and raisins.

5. Mix to a dough with the yeast mixture and milk and add saffron.

6. Knead thoroughly, return to bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

7. Shape into small buns, put on a greased baking tray until doubled in size. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse sugar and almonds.

8. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

9. Cool on a cooling tray.

10. Serve fresh with coffee.

Recipe Source: Feasting for Festivals by Jan Wilson, Lion Publishing Corporation, Batavia, Illinois, 1990