Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns

Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns


This was originally posted on The Culinary Jumble in December, 2017. The post has been updated, but the images and recipe remains the same.

It’s saffron time in Sweden. So exciting. And to celebrate, I made these saffron and white chocolate overnight buns. 

Saffron is very popular this time of year, and I suddenly found myself curious to learn more about why a fairly dark, cold country would be fascinated with the exotic spice, especially at Christmas. It appears that even historians are a little vague on how long saffron has been used in Sweden and why.


Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns


They do know that Sweden had a long history in the global spice trade. Saffron, along with another very popular spice, cinnamon, has been around since the middle ages.

In more modern times, using saffron in Christmas baking stems from the tradition of adding it to Lussekatter in celebration of St Lucia. This tradition has always been about light (St Lucia Day is on 13th December – the longest night of the year). It’s thought that the value of saffron, along with its bright colour, were the reasons it was used.


Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns


Here in Sweden, everything from confectionary to cakes include saffron in the run up to Christmas. For me, the colour and flavour make it very inspiring, and I’ve made several recipes with it. One of my favourites is a  soft, aromatic saffron cake.


So, the recipe. This time, it is soft, pillowy sweet buns which are delicately infused with the brilliantly-hued spice. 

I was really pleased with how the buns turned out. The cream cheese provides the softness, and the vanilla butter and white chocolate a touch of richness. The saffron is fairly mild but despite this, provides the perfect finishing touch by way of its distinctive flavour and colour.


Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns


These buns are great for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. Well, actually, there’s never going to be a bad time to eat them.


Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns

Course Brunch
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 15 buns


Bread Machine Dough (see note 1)

  • 250ml milk
  • 0.5g saffron
  • 75g butter (chopped into small pieces)
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 500g spelt flour (see note 2)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 75g sugar
  • 7g dried yeast


  • 70g butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 100g white chocolate (chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • pearl sugar (optional)


  • Warm the milk gently in a pan until just lukewarm, then add the saffron. Let the mixture sit for around ten minutes.
  • Pour the liquid into your bread machine along with the butter and cream cheese. Add the remaining ingredients (keeping the salt and yeast away from each other as best as possible). Set the machine to make the dough as per the manufacturer's instructions.
  • While the dough is being made, prepare the filling. Beat the butter together with the vanilla sugar. Chop the white chocolate.
  • When ready, split the dough into two roughly equal parts (dividing it makes it easier to work with). Put one half aside. On a well floured surface, work on the dough, rolling it out into a long, thin strip (around 23cm x 40cm).
  • Spread half of the butter mixture over the dough, leaving about ½cm edge all the way round. Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate over the top. Carefully roll the dough up as tight as you can, and then place the roll with the seam facing down.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut into fairly think chunks (around 1½cm thick) and place close to each other in a buttered pan or dish (the closer you put them, the more squished they become, causing them to rise up rather than spread). Repeat the above with the second half of the dough.
  • Beat an egg and wash the tops of the buns, then sprinkle some pearl sugar (if using). Cover the buns with clingfilm and pop in the fridge. Next morning, take the buns out about an hour before you want them, just until they come up to room temperature (if you'd like to bake them immediately, see note 3). Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC (430ºF).
  • Bake for around 15-20 minutes, just until the tops are nice and brown (be careful not to overcook as they will dry out). Leave to cool for little while, then scoff them while still warm! Enjoy!


  1. The dough for this recipe was made in a bread machine.
  2. You can use regular flour instead of spelt flour (just do a straight swap). 
  3. If you prefer, you can bake them immediately. Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC (430ºF), cover the buns and let them sit in a warm place for around 30 minutes until the oven is ready.



Saffron and White Chocolate Overnight Buns

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