Saffron buns with white chocolate

Lussebullar med mandelmassa & vit choklad


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.

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 made in a machine. (Use the dough hook and knead for one minute on minimum as you add the liquid, butter and quark, then 4 minutes on a low speed (2 or 3) and finally finish off by kneading by hand for a further minute.)

• 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. 


1 packet   saffron threads (usually sold in 0.4 g or 0.5 g packets)
70 g (5 tbsp) golden caster (superfine) sugar
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk (4%)
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%)
100 g (1 stick) unsalted (sweet) butter, softened

Filling and glaze


100 g (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
100 g (4 oz) white chocolate, chopped
150 g (7 oz) mandelmassa (almond paste), grated
75 g (½ cup) dried cranberries, raisins or frozen blackcurrants
1   beaten egg, to glaze
2 tbsp   pearl sugar


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

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.


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 (5 minutes if you are using a machine).


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 until it has doubled in size (or overnight in the fridge).

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 approximately 40 cm x 25 cm (16”x10”).

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 20-30 minutes.

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


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. Leave to cool on a rack.


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