How to make Saffron buns

Written by helen tickner | 13/05/2017
How to make Saffron buns
Saffron rolls with caraway seeds (Getty Premium images)

Saffron Buns are sweet rich buns traditionally eaten in much of Scandinavia and in Cornwall, England. Depending on where the recipe is from these buns are made using slightly varying ingredients, but consist primarily of plain flour, butter, sugar, and raisins or currants. They are also typically yeast-leavened and contain saffron. In Norway and Sweden the buns are known as “lussekatt” and are often eaten during Advent. No cinnamon or nutmeg is used and they are often baked into “S” shapes. In England the buns were formerly baked on sycamore leaves especially for celebratory occasions. Most recipes continue with the traditional yellow colour of the bun, and during the war the saffron was supplemented for yellow food colouring due to the high cost of the spice. Today they serve as a delicious snack with tea in the afternoon.


Place the saffron strands in ovenproof dish. Dry them out in a warm oven set on a low temperature, taking care not to leave them for too long. Remove Saffron from oven and leave to cool slightly before crumbling with fingers. Leave to infuse in 4 tbsp boiling water for 10 minutes.

Sift flour and salt in large mixing bowl with butter and lard and rub ingredients together until mixture has a breadcrumb consistency. Next, stir in dried yeast and sugar. If you choose to add spices do so here.

Beat the egg into the milk gently, then pour mixture into the bowl with the flour combination. Add the saffron and the liquid and stir well to bind the mixture and form a dough-like consistency.

Next, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in the currants or raisins for around 7-10 minutes. Look for an elastic consistency.

Divide dough into 12 equally sized portions and mold each one into a ball. Place them on the baking sheet and press lightly but firmly to flatten slightly. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to raise.

Once the buns have doubled in size place in a warm oven at 220°C (Gas Mark 7) and bake for around 15 minutes or until they are light golden in colour. As an extra test, tap the bottom and expect a hollow sound if they are ready. Remove the buns from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

The buns can be served warm or cold, whole, or cut in half and spread with butter or clotted cream.


Each portion contains around 27 calories.

Tips and warnings

  • Each portion contains around 27 calories.

Things you need

  • 500 g (1 lb) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 60 g (2 oz) butter
  • 60 g (2 oz) lard
  • 90 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 large pinch saffron strands
  • ½ tsp cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 7 g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 200 g (7 oz) currants or raisins or golden raisins
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) milk, lukewarm
  • Boiling water
  • Cling film
  • Large baking sheet, buttered
  • Oven-proof dish
  • Bowl

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