Spelt Swedish Lussebullar (Saint Lucia Saffron Buns)

lussekatter (Swedish buns) on a platter


This recipe for Spelt Swedish Lussebullar first appeared on my first blog, The Culinary Jumble. The recipe has been tweaked to include spelt flour.

Lussebullar (saffron-infused buns) are a traditional staple during the run up to Christmas in Sweden. They are made to celebrate Sankta Lucia (St Lucia’s day) on 13th December, but you start to see them from around the beginning of November right up until Christmas itself.

Swedish lussebullar can be different shapes, some more extravagant than others. Lussekatter (the ones in my images) get their name because they are supposed to be cats (katter simply means cats in Swedish). Can’t quite see the resemblance, myself, but let’s roll with it.

Although a cat is certainly the most common (and probably the easiest) shape, they can be made into beautifully intricate designs, such as crosses. Have a peek at Sara Bakar who shows us how she expertly twists and turns her lussebullar into stunning shapes (the post in Swedish, but you can still admire her handiwork).

Swedish lussebullar are visually stunning (the colour in the images is authentic – they really are a beautiful bright yellow). 


close up of yellow saffron buns (lussekatter)


The buns a yeast bread flavoured with saffron, washed with egg and a touch of cream before baking, and then simply adorned with a couple of raisins for decoration.

The flavour of saffron is big in Sweden over the festivities and I always find it very inspiring to work with. You can see how the colour shines through in my recipes for saffron & pistachio skorpor (biscotti), saffron & white chocolate overnight buns, and saffron & white chocolate Christmas tree bread. 

The only thing for it is to eat them up as quickly as possible, as they do tend to dry out. They are great for freezing, so if you don’t eat them all the first day, put some away for later. 

This recipe came from Leila (Sweden’s baking queen) and was amended only to reduce the ingredients by half. The measurements below made 12 great-sized buns.


Swedish Lussekatter (saffron buns)

Course Snack
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 12 buns



  • 100g butter (softened)
  • 0.5g powdered saffron
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 25g fresh yeast (see note 1)
  • 1 egg
  • 65g g sugar
  • 400-500g g spelt flour (see note 2)

Egg wash

  • 1 small egg
  • ½ tablespoon whipping cream
  • handful of raisins


  • Melt the butter in a pan and then add the saffron. Let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat. Add the milk and cream and stir to combine.
  • When the liquid is luke-warm, crumble in the fresh yeast and let it sit for five minutes before stirring. Leave for a further five minutes to activate. Finally, add the egg and sugar and stir to combine.
  • Pour around 300g flour into a large bowl and add the wet ingredients. Quickly stir (almost beating) the ingredients together and slowly (SLOWLY) add only enough flour just to make the dough workable.
  • Pour out on to a floured surface and continue to add more flour as you go (the dough should be very sticky when you first turn it out of the bowl). When the dough is ready to knead, work it for around five minutes until it is pliable and soft. Place back in the bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place to proof for about an hour.
  • Prepare a large baking tray with grease-proof paper (you may need two trays). When ready, knock back the dough and divide into 12 bits of pretty equal size. Take each one in turn and roll into a long, thin string (around 25cm). Place the string of dough on the baking tray and gently curve into an "S" shape, curling both the bottom and tip of the "S" into a spiral and then tucking the ends in. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F), cover again and leave for around 30-45 minutes.
  • Beat the egg and stir together with the cream, then wash over the buns. Take the raisins and gently add one to both ends of the bun (where the spirals form). Bake for around 10-14 minutes (this may vary, dependant on size). The buns should be a lovely, yellowy-golden colour when ready. Take care not to overtake as the buns will be dry.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Eat when still a little warm or allow to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container or freeze for later. Please note: the buns do dry out quickly, so are much better eaten the day they are made.


I use grams in my recipes, as I believe they are the most accurate weigh to measure ingredients. Because of this, I do not adapt my recipes to show cups/ounces.
  1. I often use fresh yeast for my bread recipes. However, if you prefer instant or dried, here are some handy tips for converting the measurements.
  2. I've made these buns with both bread and spelt flour. You may need to use more or less, depending on which flour you use. The important thing, regardless of which flour, is to add just enough flour to make the dough workable. 


Spelt Swedish Lussebullar (Saint Lucia Saffron Buns)

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