Saffron buns with white chocolate

Lussebullar med vit choklad

Swedish style saffron buns with chocolate and dried cranberries

Saffron buns are one of the highlights of Advent and enjoyed throughout Sweden. 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.

I just love baking with saffron. It reminds me of a lovely lady I met at a Farmers' Market in Tenerife. She had grown and harvested crocuses on her farm in the mountains. It takes a great many crocuses for a packet of saffron, so it is not surprising that it is quite expensive.

This is probably my most popular recipe in Sweden although every year I change the fruit that I add. Sometimes I have added lingonberries, blackcurrants or raisins. This year I have added dried cranberries, which works really well, but you can be guaranteed a wonderful bun whichever fruit you add.

A packet of "Easy Bake Yeast"

In Sweden we would normally use fresh yeast, but here I have used dried yeast because many home bakers outside of the Sweden usually use dried yeast. Both fresh yeast and dried work really well, so use which ever you find is easier to obtain and works best for you. Susanne Jonsson



• These buns are best made with mandelmassa (almond paste), which can be obtained from a specialist shop or you can make your own using our recipe which you can find in our Swedishfoodpedia article about almonds.
• The dough is quite moist making it a bit tricky to handle, so it is easier if it is made in a standmixer fitted with a dough hook.

Saffron buns with white chocolate wrapped as presents

• If you bake them in paper cases (cinnamon bun cases are ideal if you can find them), they make excellent presents.
• If you would like fresh saffron buns for breakfast you can let them rise overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, pop some frozen buns in a warm oven for 10 minutes.
• Dissolve the saffron and sugar in a little alcohol, such as some rum, brandy or amaretto, the day or even the week before to bring out the maximum flavour from the filling. Add to the mixture after adding the Quark.


0.4 g   saffron threads, 1 packet
70 g (5 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk, 3-5% fat content
450 g (3½ cups) strong (bread) flour
7 g (1½ tsp) "fast action" dried yeast, (1 packet)
½ tsp   salt
100 g (4 oz) Quark (1% or fat free)
100 g (1 stick) unsalted (sweet) butter, softened

Filling and glaze

Dried cranberries, white chocolate pieces and grated almond paste

100 g (1 stick) butter, softened
100 g (4 oz) white chocolate
150 g (7 oz) mandelmassa (almond paste), grated
75 g (½ cup) dried cranberries, rains or frozen blackcurrants
1   egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp   pearl sugar


1. Place the saffron threads in a mortar with half the sugar and grind with the pestle until evenly mixed.

Milk, sugar and saffron threads being heated in a pan

2. Put the milk in a saucepan with the sugar and saffron mixture and heat to 40°C.

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

Saffron bun dough after kneading

4. Gradually stir in the milk mixture, the cream cheese and the softened butter in stages. Bring together to form a dough and knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes. (If using a machine, slowly add the heated milk, Quark and softened butter with the machine running on minium then increase the speed to 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid) and knead for a further 5 minutes.)

(As flour vary you may need to add a bit more flour. Test the dough by lightly prodding it with your finger, if some dough sticks to your finger add a tablespoon more flour and knead it for another minute. Only do so if the dough is really sticky, because if you add too much flour the buns will end up too dry.)

5. Clean the bowl and put the dough back in it and cover with a shower cap (many hotels helpfully provide them!) or cling film (food wrap) and leave it in a warm place for an hour or so, until it has doubled in size (or overnight in the fridge).

Rolled saffron bun dough

6. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and punch once or twice to knock it back. Roll it out until it is at least 40 cm x 25 cm (16”x10”).

Saffron bun dough spread with butter, white chocolate and dried cranberries

7. Spread with butter and then sprinkle with the chopped chocolate, almond paste and fruit.

8. Roll the dough up along the long edge into a sausage and cut into 2 cm (¾”) thick rounds. Place the rounds onto greased baking trays and cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 190°C).

Saffron buns with white chocolate ready to be baked

10. Brush the buns with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and then bake for about 7-9 minutes until golden brown, but still moist in the middle.

Saffron buns with white chocolate and cranberries in a basket

11. Leave to cool on a rack and then transfer to a serving dish or a bread basket.


  printer version.pdf

  phone & tablet version.pdf

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