Saffron and White Chocolate Buns





This recipe for saffron and white chocolate buns was originally posted on The Culinary Jumble in December, 2017. The post and recipe instructions have been updated to include alternative options. 

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



Saffron and Sweden

Saffron is very popular this time of year. I suddenly found myself curious to learn more about why a fairly dark, cold country might 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.

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.



What is saffron used for?

Saffron is used to enhance both the flavour and colour of all kinds of food. Although it is now appreciated all over the world (even in colder Nordic countries), saffron is most commonly found in Iranian, Moroccan and Indian dishes. Saffron can be added to soups, pasta, risotto, or any other dish you fancy. Just have a look at my 16 stunning saffron recipes for a world of inspiration. 

Here in Sweden, saffron is often used in sweet food. You will find everything from saffron skorpor (biscotti) to  saffron and cranberry cupcakes in the run up to Christmas. For me, the colour and flavour make it very inspiring, and I love using it. One of my all time favourites is a soft, aromatic saffron cake.

So, back to these beautiful saffron and white chocolate buns. Soft, pillowy, sweet buns, 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. Although the saffron is fairly mild, it provides the perfect enhancement, with its distinctive flavour and colour.

You can make these saffron and white chocolate buns with either regular or spelt flour. Although the dough in my original recipe was prepared in a bread machine, I’ve also included instructions for a stand mixer.



Saffron and White Chocolate Buns

Course Brunch
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 15 buns


Dough (see note 1)

  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • ½ gram (¼ tsp) saffron
  • 75g (⅓ cup) butter (chopped into small pieces)
  • 100g (3½ oz) cream cheese
  • 500-550g (4 cups - 4½ cups) spelt flour (see note 2)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 75g (⅓ cup) sugar
  • 7g (2 tsp) dried yeast


  • 70g (⅓ cup) butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100g (3½ oz) white chocolate (chopped)

Extra ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • pearl sugar (optional)



    Bread Machine:

    • Warm the milk gently in a pan until just lukewarm, then add the saffron. Let the mixture sit for around ten minutes.
    • Pour the saffron and milk into your bread machine pan, along with the butter and cream cheese. Add 500g (4 cups) flour and the remaining dough ingredients. Set your machine to make the dough.
    • On a very well-floured surface (the dough will be very sticky) work in just as much flour as you need to make a soft, pliable, but still a little tacky, dough.

    Stand Mixer:

    • Warm the milk gently in a pan until just lukewarm, then add the saffron. Let the mixture sit for around ten minutes.
    • Pour the saffron and milk into your stand mixer bowl along with the butter and cream cheese. Quickly mix together.
    • Add 550g (4½ cups) of flour, and the remaining dough ingredients. The dough should be sticky, but if you need more flour, just add a little at a time. Be careful: too much flour will result in dry bread.
    • Switch to a dough hook (if you have one) and allow the mixer to knead the dough for around 10 minutes, just until soft. The dough will still feel a little tacky to the touch, but will be able to slowly drop off the hook.
    • Cover the dough and leave to proof (until it has doubled in size - usually about an hour).
    • When the dough is ready, knock it back, and on a floured surface, form into a rough ball.

    For both methods:

    • While the dough is in the stand mixer or bread machine, beat the butter and vanilla together for the filling. Then, chop the white chocolate into chunks.
    • When the dough is ready, divide it into two roughly equal parts (this makes it easier to work with). Put one half aside.
    • Take the other half, and on a floured surface, work on the dough, rolling it out into a long, fairly thin, strip (around 23cm x 40cm / 9" x 15").
    • Spread half of the butter mixture almost all over the dough, but just leaving a thin 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.
    • Grease a dish or line an oven tray.
    • 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, placing on the same tray or in the same dish as the others.
    • Beat an egg and wash the tops of the buns, then sprinkle some pearl sugar (if using).

    Overnight buns:

    • Cover the buns with clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
    • Take the buns out about an hour before you want them, and allow them to come up to room temperature.

    Bake immediately:

    • Cover the buns with a tea-towel, and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes.

    Both methods:

    • 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. I have made the dough using both a stand mixer and bread machine with identical results. I have not made the dough by hand, but I see no reason why you couldn't do so!
    2. You can use spelt or regular flour for this recipe (just use the same amount).
    3. In Sweden we have something called dried yeast. It is used both in warm liquid to proof and also added directly to flour. I am aware that the US has two options for dried yeast, and I believe dry active yeast is the most similar for the purpose of making this particular bread.
    I have converted grams to cups/ounces/tablespoons using online converters. Although I have no reason to believe they are inaccurate, please be aware that I have not made the recipe with imperial measurements.
    In addition, many ingredients are different in Europe compared to North America. I do all I can to offer possible alternatives and to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone. However, results cannot always be guaranteed if you have not used the same ingredients, measurements or methods as me.
    Lastly, I do everything I can to ensure that my recipes (and instructions) are accurate and easy to follow. However, I am human, and don't always get it right. If you notice anything strange, a mistake, or even a typo, please let me know in the comments.



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