Santa Lucia Day is my favorite holiday: a Swedish festival of lights which takes place on December 13th. On that day, the oldest daughter in the family wakes up early to bake fresh Lucia buns and brew coffee. She then dons a long white dress with a red sash, and wears a crown of candles on her head to carry a tray with the fresh buns and coffee to each member of her family.
These are the special cardamom buns that are made to celebrate this day.
- Combine 1/2 c warm water (a little warm to the touch), sugar, and yeast.
- Add butter, 2c of the flour, salt, cardamom, and orange peel. Separate the eggs- save the yolks and add the whites to the mixture.
- Add the remainder of the flour a bit at a time until the dough is very stiff.
- Knead 10 minutes (until smooth and elastic). If the dough is too flaky, add a little water.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in size (~1 hour).
- Punch down; knead lightly.
- Pinch off balls of dough about 1 1/2" in diameter. Roll into a foot-long ropes. Coil ends in to form an S shape.
- Place a currant on top of the center of each coil, pressing in.
- Cover with a light plastic film and let rise in a warm place 25 mins.
- Mix egg yolks with 1 1/2 T water.
- Brush yolk and water mixture over risen buns.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
Makes approx. 3 dozen buns.