Lucia and Swedish Saffron Bun Recipe

Tomorrow, on the 13th of December, us Swedes celebrate Lucia which is an old tradition that includes wearing a crown made out of candles, eating ginger snaps and sweet S shaped buns with raisins which we call Lussebullar, enjoyed together with Swedish mulled wine (glögg) or coffee.

What is Lucia

Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) which falls on the 13th December. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. St Lucia was a kindhearted young Christian woman who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions and to be honest, it’s a little unclear why we still celebrate Lucia but it is still a Swedish tradition that many Swedes hold dear.

On Lucia we traditionally bake and eat Lussebullar which translates into Saffron buns. Along with Gingerbread, Lussebullar is pretty much synonyms with Christmas for many Swedish people.

What are Lussebullar?

Lussebullar are sweet, tasty and fluffy in their consistency and I (Emelie) try to make them every year to celebrate Christmas even though I now longer live in Sweden. I love this tradition plus it is a good excuse to eat something tasty 🙂

Did you know: Apart from being super tasty, eating saffron has other benefits including:

  • Improving your mood. Studies has shown that Saffron has a positive effect on your mood.
  • Help you get a good night sleep. Saffron is said to have an effect on insomnia and some cultures drink saffron enriched drinks before going to bed as it is believed to help you to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Help fighting diseases.
  • Saffron contains the chemical compound crocin which in some American studies has shown to help prevent ALS and MS.

Even more reason to make this recipe this festive season. This year, rather than following the traditional recipe, I have changed into a vegan version for all to enjoy 🙂






300ml Dairy-free milk (I used Alpro Unsweetened Almond milk)

½ g pack saffron

1/2 ground cardamon

75g unsalted vegan butter, cut into cubes

450g self-raising white bread flour

100g golden caster sugar

7g sachet fast-action yeast

24 currants

2 tbsp of Almond Milk for coating


  1. Put your dairy-free milk in a small pan and gently heat until it’s steaming. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the saffron into a fine powder then add the saffron, the cardamon and the butter to the milk. Stir until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, caster sugar, 1 tsp salt and the yeast together. Once your milk, saffron and butter mix has cooled down, add this to your dry ingredients. Mix together to form a sticky dough, and then set aside for for about 1 hr to let the dough rise.
  3. Set your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  4. One your dough has risen, divide your dough into 12 equal parts. 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 parchment-lined baking tray and then lightly brush them with some whisked almond milk ( I like to add a little bit of sugar and oil to the almond milk before I brush the dough but this is optional).
  5. Put your tray in the oven and bake for around 15 mins. Allow to cool before serving. Once cooled, serve with a hot cup of coffee or if you are feeling very festive, some mulled wine 🙂
    Let us know in the comments below if you tried this recipe 🙂

Until next time,

The Model Diaries

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