A Romantic Swedish Christmas
Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes
The darkness of the Swedish winter is lit by a multitude of candles—and what a pretty custom it is, as many Swedes prepare for a traditional Christmas.
Susan’s longtime Swedish friend, Lotta Heggestad, shared her family’s Swedish Christmas customs. Susan celebrated a Swedish Christmas with her many years ago and has such wonderful memories! Lotta sent pictures of her Mellanvik home, above, to give us an idea of the beauty and romance of this season. A traditional food is the saffron bun. Lotta told us that the saffronsbullen are eaten with coffee for breakfast on the morning of St. Lucia, Dec. 13, and on Christmas Eve, on the julbrod, Christmas Table, with glögg, a delicious mulled wine, and the whole smorgasbord of traditional Swedish foods from Swedish meatballs, to Grav Lax, herring, salmon, meat, egg, bread, cheese, paté, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and milk, sausages and so on!
Lotta added, “Otherwise we have the saffron buns for ‘fika’ i.e coffee or tea in the afternoon with buns and cookies. I think ‘fika’ is one of the most important words an immigrant learns after hej and tack! You have fika in the afternoon in all Jobs. If we have something that is holy in Sweden, it is fika!” Love that custom.
Susan’s friend Anna Belfrage, a well-known and prolific Swedish author, has shared her fabulous saffron buns recipe, made in a figure eight with a raisin on each side and brushed with an egg-wash for a beautiful golden color. Once you taste one, we dare you not to get seconds!
Swedish Saffon Buns (saffronsbullar)
With the recipe, Anna Belfrage wrote, “I have baked my first batch of saffron buns for the season, decorated the house with…taa-daa…candles, and am presently waiting for the kettle to boil. Tea in candlelight with warm, golden saffron buns – a perfect start to the upcoming Christmas season.” The aroma while baking the saffronsbullar filled the kitchen and the taste! These sweet yeast buns melt in your mouth.
Yields 3 dozen
3 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup of butter
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup plus 1T of sugar
1 egg – whisked.
1/4 cup raisins
4 to 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Melt the butter, add the milk and heat carefully until it’s “fingerwarm” or warm on your wrist.
Crumble or spoon the yeast into a bowl, add some of the milk/butter, dissolve the yeast before adding the rest of the liquid.
Mix sugar, salt and ground saffron. Mixing the saffron with the sugar prior to adding to the mix increases its aromatic properties.
Add sugar, salt, saffron to the liquid. Add a whisked egg. Add raisins and about half the flour. Mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the flour bit by bit, kneading the dough until it no longer sticks to the bowl but still is slightly sticky.
Powder some flour on top, set to rise under a towel for 45 minutes.
Divide up the dough in 36 pieces. Roll each piece into 6-8” in length and about the thickness of your thumb/index finger (depending on how thick your fingers are), which you then curl into an 8 (curl one end clockwise, the other anti-clockwise).
Place each bun on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Decorate the centre of each curl with a raisin – like an “eye”. Leave to rise another 20 minutes on the baking tin under a towel.
Wash with whisked egg and bake at 425 F for 7-10 minutes until slightly golden.
Two wonderful books. The Graham Family Saga by an award winning author from Sweden, Anna Belfrage and Oleanna by Julie K. Rose, historical fiction which takes place in Sweden. Both books are B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees!