Breads/ Recipes/ Yeast Breads

St. Lucia Buns {Lussekatter}

Okay guys, so I was informed yesterday on Instagram that these St. Lucia Buns resemble boobs. I’m just going to say that up front because there’s a strong chance you might feel the same way. Regardless, let’s proceed here and get our minds out of the gutter (cough cough).

When I was a little girl, ALL I wanted was to be just like Kirsten, the American Girl Doll. You know, the one with the braids and the cute apron? Oh, I had Molly and Felicity, but secretly just wanted to be Kirsten. My heart might have burst last winter when I visited the American Girl Museum in Chicago. Let me just say — that place is not just for little girls!!!! Anyway, if you share my obsession with Kirsten and read any of her books {oh, remember how amazing those books were?! Ah, childhood}, you know she celebrated St. Lucia Day on December 13th. It’s the day in Sweden that officially starts the Christmas Season and these rolls, St. Lucia Buns, are traditionally served. I remember making them for my fourth grade class on “heritage day” and then starting the tradition in my house to always bake these around December 13th every year.

They are soft, buttery and taste faintly of saffron, a spice that colors these rolls a golden yellow. If you’ve never made them, you’re in for a treat. They really are special and perfect for a Christmas breakfast with some Greek yogurt, berries and honey.

Saffron can be kind of expensive {okay really expensive} but I was very pleased to find this at World Market for only four dollars. Now I guess I’ll have to make paella to use the rest of it! Saffron, like turmeric, colors whatever its in yellow.

The dough is extra soft and easy to work with, even if you’ve never baked with yeast before! I imagine they would be a fun project to share with kids. The holidays are a great time to introduce them to other cultures and explore their own heritage —- maybe they are Swedish like Kirsten and me?!

St. Lucia Buns are traditionally formed into a tight figure eight and then studded with currants or raisins.

Is your mind still in the gutter?

They’ll make your house smell INCREDIBLE and taste best warm, straight out of the oven with butter and jam.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say no to a holiday that involves a special bread.

St. Lucia Buns

makes about 3 dozen rolls

Print this Recipe!


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cup milk

1 (1/4th oz) packet active dry yeast

1/2 tsp saffron, lightly crushed

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cardamom

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 1/4 cups flour

raisins for decorating


In a small pot combine the milk, butter and crushed saffron. Bring to a simmer and stir so the butter melts. When the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

While your milk is cooling, combine the flour, salt, cardamom and sugar in a bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer.

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and stir. Let sit for five minutes.

Start the mixer on low speed using a paddle attachment. While the mixer is running, pour in the milk. Add the eggs and continue to beat until a dough forms.

Stick with the paddle attachment OR switch to the dough hook attachment. Regardless, turn your mixer to high and mix for eight minutes, or until the dough clears the bottom of the bowl. It will appear soft and sticky at first but keep going!

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 60 minutes.

After an hour, remove the dough and punch down. Divide dough into small 2-oz (roughly) sections. Roll each out to form a long snake. Curl up to an “s” and then tuck ends in to form a figure eight. Place these on a greased cookie sheet to rise for another 40 minutes.

While the dough is rising for the second time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Tuck raisins into each roll like photos above and brush buns with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a little warm water). Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.


~2.5 hours

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  • Blog is the New Black
    December 12, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Kirsten was my favorite, too- loved her! And I rem reading about St. Lucia day!

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    December 12, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Omg– soon as I saw the title of your post, my first thought was immediately of American Girl! So funny! I had Molly growing up, but loved all of Kirsten’s books.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    December 12, 2012 at 4:03 am

    I have to comment mostly on the American Girl references. I LOVE American Girl, and I wanted to be Kirsten too. Last year my mom and I brought my then ten year old niece to the store, and my mom and I had more fun than her!

  • Anne
    December 12, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Gahh Kirsten was my favorite too, I was her for Halloween one year! A few months ago I found all of my sister and I’s old American Girl books at my grandparents that we had given to my cousin. Obviously I real one before bed that night πŸ™‚

  • The Spatularettes
    December 12, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Ohmygosh American Girl was my LIFE.
    I really thought I was Molly.
    It’s kind of sad these days, because the kids don’t want the historic dolls anymore and they are all being retired : (

    • Audrey
      December 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

      That makes me sad, too. The historical dolls were always my favorites.

  • Sofia
    December 12, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Hi Jenna!
    I read your blog religiously and I’m so happy (and impressed!) that you know about Lucia.
    I’m Swedish but have lived in the US for almost 10 years. Now my husband and I are home visiting my parents in Sweden for the holidays and he is so excited to celebrate his first Swedish Christmas!

    Greetings from Vimmerby!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    December 12, 2012 at 5:04 am

    These are so pretty Jenna! (And yes, they do look like boobs lol!) Having grown up in Alberta, I was never really into American Girl dolls but my cousin who spent about 5 years growing up in Michigan was totally obsessed with them so I understand where you’re coming from with the Kirsten thing!

  • Amy Walters, aDESIGNdock
    December 12, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Definitely can’t say no to a good bread at the holidays. Carbs are my fav. ; )

  • Sarah
    December 12, 2012 at 5:06 am

    If you don’t know what to do with the leftover saffron, I have a delicious recipe involving fresh pasta, mushrooms, cream and Parma ham…

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    December 12, 2012 at 5:07 am

    I always was given the Molly books…no other girls!
    And that Chicago American Girl museum is a gold mind!

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    December 12, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Oh I wanted to be Kirsten so bad as well!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    December 12, 2012 at 5:42 am

    I never ever read the American Girl books. I don’t know how that happened. These buns look delicious. Cardamon is one of my favorite flavors.

  • Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen
    December 12, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I looooved my American Girl dolls and books (and the magazine…). Now that I think back, AG probably started my obsession with history…along with Little House on the Prairie, et al. I had Samantha and Felicity…but my neighbor (and elementary school bestie) had Kirsten so we played all the time. I remember she made the mistake of taking out her braids and then could never get them back in quiiiiet right. She was devastated. haha

    • Kim
      December 12, 2012 at 6:32 am

      Yup, yup- the history nerd I am today was created with a healthy dose of American Girl, Little House on th Prairie, and Dear America (fictional diaries of girls during important points in history).

  • Kristina @ Foodnook
    December 12, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I only saw the title while my page was still loading and got really excited- “St Lucia Buns, like in the American Girl Books?!” So excited now haha!

  • Nakia
    December 12, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I remember Kristen! I actually wanted all of the dolls, but I pined after Addy the most. We have an American Girl store here in Northern Washington and everytime I walk past it, I stare in the window longingly. At 29 years old, I still want one of those dang dolls. I suppose I can wait until I have a daughter or a niece to buy one fore. Haha.

    I did see the boob convo on Instagram yesterday and I giggled a little. I’ll be giving this recipe a try tonight.

  • Kim
    December 12, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Unlurking to say ohhhhhmigosh, I loved the American Girl books! I had alllll the books as well as the Felicity, Samantha, and Josephina dolls. I remember being SO proud of myself for saving up to buy the dolls; man, they were expensive. Ahhh, fun fun times.

    And regarding the resemblence of the St. Lucia buns to certain parts of the anatomy, I think they’re supposed to actually resemble eyes- according to Wikipedia St. Lucy/Lucia cut out (or had cut out) her eyes. Since this crowd has been raving over the AG books, I figured that tidbit would be appreciated πŸ™‚

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    December 12, 2012 at 6:30 am

    I’m not going to lie, when I saw these on Instagram yesterday I immediately thought, “Wow, these look extremely inappropriate.” lol

    I never read the Kirsten books but I did read all of the Felicity ones. She was my favorite American Girl growing up.

  • Erica {Coffee & Quinoa}
    December 12, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Samantha was my favorite. I’ll never forget getting her for Christmas… I wouldn’t let anyone else touch her for days! I love that you went to the American Girl store, I might just have to go there myself.

  • Ruth
    December 12, 2012 at 6:42 am

    I love that you made these! I used to make my family celebrate St Lucia day when I was a little girl because I was so obsessed with Kirsten. I even had the American girls cookbook!

  • Kaitlin @ Taste of the City
    December 12, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only nerdy kid obsessed with American Girl dolls/books. This especially makes me laugh because I may or may not have had Kirsten’s matching Christmas outfit for myself. You know, the one with the crown and candles…. And I may or may not have worn it to school and did a presentation on St. Lucia Day, complete w/ these buns.

  • deva at deva by definition
    December 12, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I had Kirsten! Still do, actually, she is very delicately wrapped up along with all of her clothes in one of my (very limited) closets (limited because my house is 110 years old). I have ALWAYS wanted to make these buns and now I think I have both the recipe and excuse!

  • Stephanie Wilson
    December 12, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Ahh, American Girl! I loved the books as a child, and bought one for my niece for Christmas this year! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but Samantha and Felicity were the books I read more than once. The buns came out beautifully, lovely job!

  • Mr. & Mrs. P
    December 12, 2012 at 7:11 am

    These are soooo cute, we almost cant eat them… =)

  • Caroline L.
    December 12, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I’ve always wanted to be an American Doll!!!! And ha, I completely remember ‘heritage days’ in elementary school… but these look great… thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda
    December 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I was OBSESSED with Kirsten. Like….super obsessed. I cooked through her cookbook like a mad woman and did all of the pioneer crafts that came in the set. I dressed up as her for Halloween (naturally) and then for World Heritage Day at school, I wore it again to show some Swedish pride…though I have no Swedish blood in me (despite my bright blonde hair). Ahhh, memories. I’ll have to make these buns soon to keep the nostalgia going!

  • Ellie
    December 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I had Addy and I LOVED Addy- she was so great and she even ate worms (I was a very outdoorsy kid). I totally agree American girls are so wonderful- I learned history while feeling encouraged to be an independent girl

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    December 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Jenna the rolls are gorgeous! Love the way the lighting is coming in over them in the opening photos and that you made them with yeast, and they sound awesome.

    That turquoise blue can in the background reminds me of St. Lucia – I want it!

  • Lia
    December 12, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Mmmmm! I didn’t think they looked like boobs until you said it, then I couldn’t stop seeing boobs! That image aside, my cousin is married to a swedish woman and they always have a great Christmas Eve dinner with lots of traditional swedish yummy things, but I’ve never seen these. I’d love to try them out and see if they like them!

  • Christina
    December 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

    When I saw the title of this post, my mind went immediately to Kirsten! I see some bread baking as part of this weekend’s plans!

  • Jenna | The Paleo Project
    December 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Ah! American Girl was my favorite, I loved the bigger dolls but was OBSESSED with the bitty babies. I had Josephina and a hispanic bitty baby. For some reason I always wanted my “children” to be tan and dark haired? Not much has changed.

  • Anna
    December 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

    This post makes me super happy! I love lussekatter (and Kristen)!
    Fun fact: the rolls were originally supposed to be boobs! The shapes for lussekatter have stuck it out since Sweden’s pagan days, and the traditional shapes for lussekatter are actually fertility symbols. They’ve all been renamed appropriately Lucia/Christmas-y things now, though. πŸ˜‰

    Sorry… I got excited.

  • Becky Henderson
    December 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

    They look amazing! Samantha was my favorite American Girl doll. I just found her this month and will be passing her down to my 4 year old. I’m pretty excited about that moment! I can’t wait to make these!

  • Julie
    December 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    My first thought was of Kirsten! She was the one AG that I had books of (no dolls) . . . I need to go find it tonight. I was more like her than any of the other girls (but I always wanted to be ‘cool’ like Samantha). Thanks for making a bright spot in my day.

  • jamie
    December 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Love love love American Girl dolls!! I had Addy and Samantha, but Addy was my favorite! Thanks for giving me a little blast from the past…my dolls and all of their accessories are somewhere in my parent’s attic haha.

  • Katie @ skinnyminniemoves
    December 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I almost bought saffron the other day but the price just kills me. Especially for something I’m not sure I will even like!

  • Sarah F
    December 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

    haha I love that people commented they look like boobs. I wouldn’t have thought of it without the suggestion.

    I am adding this to things to make- looks and sounds amazing!

  • Jenn
    December 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I’ll never look at these the same way again! haha
    With Luck

  • Jodea @
    December 12, 2012 at 11:24 am

    We have something very similar in England called saffron buns. Yum!

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    December 12, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I absolutely love that someone else pointed that out because it’s totally what I thought when I saw your photo on Instagram! I’m so immature sometimes…
    But what I love even more is holiday traditions! And these buns look like a wonderful holiday treat!

  • Brianna
    December 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I wanted to be Samantha so badly and read the Samantha books over and over again. I can remember begging my dad for a doll every time the catalogue arrived in the mail. I never got one of those precious dolls though like so many of the other lucky commenters did though, and now each time I pass the American Girl store, I remember how much I loved the stories associated with each girl. By the way, the buns look lovely.

  • Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog
    December 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Oh American Girls!! Love them and I can remember when the store opened in Chicago (I live in the burbs). My family (my poor Dad & brother) went there for my birthday and I was just in awe! To this day, I still like stopping in there whenever I go downtown and am in the area. Great memories. I love how these buns have become a tradition for you – love things like that, especially around the holidays.

  • Kevie
    December 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Kirsten was my first American Girl doll because she looked like me long blond hair and blue eyes. I later went on to get Samantha, Addy, Felicity, AND Molly…I was spoiled. But Kirsten stayed my favorite. I live outside of Chicago, I must visit this museum!!! I’m sure it will make me cry tho, happy tears, of course. Thanks for helping me relive the memories πŸ™‚

  • KPH in LH
    December 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    My mom is a retired elementary teacher. One year she had a student of Swedish heritage, and he and his family invited her to their St Lucia Day party, beginning at 6AM on 12/13, complete with Lucia Bride, Star Boy and Lucia buns! My mom has attended every year since, and my daughter and niece were both Lucia Brides when they were in high school. It’s a very unique experience … And yeah, those Lucia buns are to.die.for, not too sweet, just very addictive!

    Oh, and of course, my daughter had Kirsten in her Lucia Bride dress too!

    Ah, memories …

  • janet
    December 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Okay I was guilty of the boobs comment … Life is too short without humour and levity.
    I adore saffron in my chicken soup … Awesome flavour profile.

    Never knew of American Girl … Will have to look up.

  • Caroline
    December 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Ahh! Someone else who celebrates St. Lucia’s day because of Kirsten!

    My family’s not fond of St. Lucia buns, though, so I make coffee cake and hto chocolate.

  • Michelle
    December 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Hi there, that recipe looks so yummy! I decided I would make them tomorrow, until I got to the part about using the Kitchenaid mixer; I don’t have one, and I’m sure not all your readers have one. How do you adapt the recipe to make it without the mixer?

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    December 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Haha. I feel like I have a huge “guilty” sign on my forehead being the first one to make the boob comment on instagram. Regardless, your boobs, I mean buns, look awesome. πŸ˜‰

  • Emily
    December 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    You can start a conversation with pretty much any 20- or 30-something woman with “what was your favorite American Girl?” and have a winning topic right there. Mine was Molly (and I still have her & her tea set!). πŸ™‚

    I should totally try this out this year and embrace my Swedish heritage!

  • Ella
    December 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I loved Samantha and had her doll! Felicity was my second fave πŸ™‚ my sister had Molly. My grandmother was quite disappointed that we didn’t want Kirsten, since we are also Swedish by heritage. If I had been a bit more clever, I might have claimed to love Kirsten just so I could get a second doll, haha.

  • Yohanna
    December 13, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Being Swedish, stranded in London but working for a Scandinavian company we take Swedish traditions seriously.
    Hence the 13th is St Lucia day in the office. when the traditional St Lucia train goes through the office everyone gets GlΓΆgg and Lussebullar. Hence the swedes in the office have spent many a night baking lussebullar and I now have 450 sitting in my office. The smell is amazing. Can’t wait to dig into one

  • Courtney @ Translating Nutrition
    December 13, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I too was obsessed with Kirsten, and remember vividly the year I got her cookbook as a gift. I was determined to make these st. lucia buns for our Christmas dinner. Mind you I was only about 6 at the time. My mom was such a good sport and got up quite early in the morning to help me with the oven (still too young to use it myself). To this day I think it was those buns, making them in the early morning with my mom and serving them with such pride at dinner, that got me so interested in food and cooking. And all thanks to Kirsten!

  • Johanna
    December 13, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Wow! I didn’t think anyone outside of Sweden made these, let alone knew of their existence. Their great right! The St Lucia celebration here in Sweden is so wonderful, I love it!

  • Kate
    December 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the laugh in what these resemble. Looks like a great recipe!

  • Emily
    December 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    My grandma is 100% Swedish and I spent a Christmas in Sweden a couple years ago. Lussebullar are near a dear to my heart.

  • Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen
    December 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Haha I was obsessed with the American Girl dolls! My favorites were Samantha and Felicity. These buns look lovely and I love the tutorial on how to shape them.

  • Katie @peacebeme
    December 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Kirsten was my doll too! I made Rhee’s all the time as a kid because of her. I had the cookbook that went with her. Actually tons of good recipes in there.

  • Carla
    December 17, 2012 at 7:42 am

    So, I did not think these looked like boobs until you said anything, and even still I have to purposely picture it…but I saw this commercial the other day and immediately went, “Wow, that looks like a butt!” while my mom said, “That looks like boobs,” and I remembered this posting. So here’s a little humor for your morning…|10101|10001|-1|210997007||||||HPZ1|HPZ1

  • Becky
    December 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    This Catholic girl knew right away that they were for St. Lucy’s day! Can’t wait to make these next year. (but yeah, I can see the resemblance, haha!) PS: She was a young martyr in the early Church and tradition has it that her eyes were gouged out in the process…ouch…

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf
    December 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I make St Lucia buns every year and I use the recipe from the Kirsten cookbook! It’s a beloved family tradition for us. πŸ™‚