A few weeks ago the Swedish church contacted me saying New York Times where looking for a swedish family living permanently in New York who celebrate the Swedish holiday Lucia. As Cappi goes to classes at the church they had come to think of us and suggested our family for the spread.
I am not a bun-baking mom at all. It’s just not my thing. BUT once each year I do bake with great pleasure and that is when it is time for Lucia buns, aka Lussebullar. I love them! I love the fact that they are bright yellow (I always add way more saffron than you are supposed to). I love how they smell and taste. So New York Times had found the right family for sure!
Little did I know when they contacted me that this was a big production. Having worked with photoshoots and magazines myself for over 20 years I thought “I got this – easy”. However, it turned out they wanted the Lucia robes, the lucia crown (with the real candles), the greenery for the crown, the glitter, christmasy cups, plates and of course the perfect recipes. As I mentioned before I change it a little each time. So we had to “practice bake” several times. Which we didn’t mind at all, but now we don’t want any more Lussebullar this year haha.
I was right in the middle of opening my store on Mott Street when all this happened so the timing could not have been worse. But when New Yorlk Times calls you do answer! Also, it’s nice to be able to spread some Swedish culture to New Yorkers (apparently some 6 million people see New York Times magazine, paper or web version). So in the middle of everything going on with Bag-all I started trying to find all that stuff. Not an easy task even in NYC where you supposedly can find everything at all times.
Then, when the day of the photoshoot came a crew of seven people showed up at our house. Super sweet and professional.
Today finally we got to see the result of the effort and it looks so great!
Here is the whole text:
St. Lucia’s Day
Much of Scandinavia exists in near-perpetual darkness in mid-December, and St. Lucia celebrations are an antidote to the dark. On Dec. 13, in honor of Lucia, a fourth-century Sicilian virgin killed by the Romans, processions of children in white gowns with red sashes carry lit candles and sing songs about bringing light into the deepest shadows. The night beforehand, at home on the Upper West Side, Jennifer Jansch and her three daughters bake sweet, yeast-leavened St. Lucia buns, or lussebullar, and ginger cookies called pepparkakor. “The saffron makes the buns bright yellow,” Jansch explains. In the early morning, Jansch’s eldest daughter, 14-year-old Celeste, will don a crown of candles and then, together with her younger sisters, Margaux and Caprice, will deliver the sweets and hot coffee to their sleeping parents. “Lucia is so much a part of who we are,” Jansch says. “It is not religious; it is not about presents; it is a celebration of light and things that are possible.
And the recipe:
St. Lucia Buns (Lussebullar)
Time1 1/2 hours
These saffron-hued sweet buns are a staple of the Swedish tradition of St. Lucia’s Day, a winter-solstice celebration. The recipe is from Jennifer Jansch, whose children serve their parents the buns every Dec. 13, when the holiday is observed.
Featured in: Diverse Holiday Feasts From Five New York Families.
Flour, Raisin, Saffron, Scandinavian
6 ounces butter, melted
2 ½ cups lukewarm milk
¾ teaspoon saffron
1 cup sugar
1.7 ounces fresh yeast
½ teaspoon salt
2 pounds wheat flour, or as needed
Beaten egg, for brushing
Raisins, for garnish.
Place the butter and milk in a medium bowl. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron with a pinch of the sugar, and stir into the mixture. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the lukewarm butter mixture, then add the remaining butter mixture, the remaining sugar and the salt.
Gradually add enough of the flour (almost all of it) to make a workable dough, kneading for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook. Shape into a ball, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 to 45 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and knead in additional flour if the dough is sticky. Shape as desired into buns, braids or lengths. Place on lined baking sheets, and allow to rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400.
Brush the buns with beaten egg, and press raisins lightly into the dough. Bake until golden and risen, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a bun comes out dry. Smaller buns may take 8 to 10 minutes; larger lengths and braids, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the buns on a rack under a cloth.
And here is the link to New York Times article. Personally I would love to try that Japanese food! NYTimes