Saffron buns with almond paste

Saffransbullar med mandelmassa

Saffron buns with almonds by candle light
Enjoy saffransbullar by candlelit during Advent.

Saffron buns are enjoyed throughout Sweden during Advent. They are particularly nice when eaten by candle light with a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of glögg! The most common form is as lussekatter in which the buns are shaped in spirals with two raisins, which are supposed to make the buns look like curled up cats. A popular alternative is to add some mandelmassa (almond paste) to the mixture which adds another flavour and helps to keep them moist. John Duxbury



• These buns are best made with Swedish mandelmassa (almond paste), which can be obtained from a specialist shop, ordered online or you can make your own using our recipe.
• If you’ve not got any almond paste you can use marzipan, but omit the sugar from the filling.
• Add a tray of boiling water to the bottom of the oven before baking the buns as this helps to keep the buns moist, but take care to avoid the steam when opening the door.


0.4 g (½ tsp) saffron threads, 1 packet
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk, 3-4% fat
75 g (¾ stick) unsalted (sweet) butter
500 g (4 cups) strong (bread) flour
50 g (¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
7 g (1½ tsp) "fast action" dried yeast, 1 packet
5 g (1 tsp) salt
100 g (4 oz) Quark

Filling and glaze

110 g (1 stick) butter, at room temperature and cut into small cubes
200 g (7 oz) almond paste (mandelmassa), grated
3 tbsp   caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp   vanilla essence
1   egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp   pearl sugar
3-4 tbsp   flaked almonds


Milk and saffron threads being heated in a saucepan

1. Heat the saffron and milk together until warm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Melted butter being added to the saffron milk mixture

2. Melt the butter, allow to cool slightly and then stir into the milk mixture.

3. Put the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix. Add the yeast and mix.

Saffron dough after kneading

4. Stir in the milk mixture and Quark. Bring together to form a dough and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes.

Saffron dough after doubling in size

5. Clean the bowl and put the dough back in it and cover with cling film (food wrap) and leave in a warm draught-free place for 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

Saffron dough rolled out

6. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and punch once or twice to knock it back. Use your fingers to spread it into a rectangle approximately 40 cm x 25 cm (16”x10”) or roll it out. (If you are having difficulty getting the dough to keep its shape, let it sit for 5 minutes before trying again. Like pizza dough, it needs to time to relax whilst you are forming it.)

Almond paste and butter mixture

7. Mix the butter, almond paste, sugar and vanilla essence together to form an evenly mixed paste and spread over the dough.

Saffron dough topped with amlond paste

8. Roll the dough up along the long edge into a sausage and cut into 2 cm (¾”) thick rounds using a serrated knife. Place the rounds onto greased baking trays and cover with a tea towel. Leave somewhere warm again to double in size.

9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 190°C) and grease two baking trays (pans).

Saffron and almond buns ready to be baked

10. Brush the buns with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and almond flakes and then bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown and the undersides sound hollow when tapped.

11. Leave to cool on a rack.


  printer version.pdf

  phone & tablet version.pdf

Horizontal-Yellow-line is run by a not-for-profit company set up to help English speakers around the world who would like to learn more about Swedish food. If you like the site please help us to promote it and bring Swedish food to a bigger audience by following us on:

 Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logo

John Duxbury
Editor and Founder