Saffron Buns

Today is St. Lucia’s Day;  even though I am not a Swede or from any of the Scandinavian countries, my husband is half Finnish – which makes my children quarter Finnish.  Saffron buns are eaten on St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden and in many of the Scandinavian countries (including Slavic countries).  Light and fluffy in texture, these buns are so mild and almost melt in your mouth!!

This recipe of saffron buns came from Saveur!

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Makes 32 buns:

2 1⁄4-oz. packages active dry yeast
2 cups milk, heated to 115°
2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed
3⁄4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
6 1⁄2 cups flour
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
3 eggs
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes, softened
Canola oil, for greasing
64 raisins, for garnish

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 tsp. sugar; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
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It helps to steep saffron in warm milk for few minutes before mixing with other ingredients.
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I don’t know if you can see the foam from the yeast.  This is how it should look like this after 10 minutes. 

Stir in the remaining sugar, along with the flour, salt, and 2 eggs. Mix on low speed until dough forms and gathers around the paddle. Replace paddle with dough hook and add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, 8 minutes.
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Dough should pull away from the bowl like this.

Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour.
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After 1 hour of proofing.

Using a pastry scraper or a large knife, divide the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter into 8 equal-size pieces. Keep on dividing until you have 32 pieces. 
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2. Working with 1 dough piece at a time (and setting aside the remaining dough pieces on a baking sheet until you’re ready to shape them), use your fingers to roll dough piece into an 8″-long rope.
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3.Twist 1 end of the segment toward its center and curl the end into a tight spiral shape until you reach the middle of the rope.
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4. Repeat with the other end, twisting in the opposite direction, so that you end up with an S-shaped pastry. Transfer shaped dough pieces, spaced 2″ apart, to 4 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and let the buns rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
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5. When ready to bake, place a raisin in the center of each spiral.
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6. Heat oven to 400°. Uncover the dough pieces and place a raisin at the center of each of the spirals. Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush each bun with egg mixture. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 16 minutes. Transfer buns to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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My opinion:  This was so much fun to make and eat!!  As I stated earlier, these buns have mild flavor (with the amount of yeast I put in it didn’t taste yeasty at all).  Soft and fluffy, but with enough substance – just love these buns!!

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