Joyous Jumble: Saint Lucia Day Buns

I don't know about you, but lately it seems like I'm living in darkness.  When I wake up in the morning it's dark; the sky just lightens to gray most days, but even when the sun comes out it's pale and weak; then by the time I come home it's dark again. 

Which is possibly why I love reading and learning about winter holidays that celebrate light.  One such holiday is Saint Lucia's Day.  Celebrated largely in Scandinavian countries, on Lucia Day morning,

"Traditionally, the oldest daughter in the family portrays Saint Lucia, the Queen of Light, and she serves the elder members of the family coffee and pastries in bed.  The pageant goes something like this. While the parents snuggle under comforters and feign sleep, the children are in the kitchen bustling about. Coffee must be brewed, and saffron-flavored Saint Lucia coffeecake or buns must be warmed.  The daughter, dressed in a long white gown with red sash, lights a ring of candles and carefully lifts it up to rest securely on her head as a crown. . . . When everything is ready, the coffee is poured, the Lucia buns are placed on a tray and the breakfast procession slowly begins toward the parents' bedroom. The children sing a traditional song: 'Now the light is carried forth, proud on its crown, in every house, and every home, the song shall ring.'"

Collage

For Saint Lucia Day this year (and for my own entry in Joyous Jumble), I decided to try my hand at some Saint Lucia Buns.  Here is the recipe I used.  The saffron is a bit expensive, but as it's basically the whole point it can't be omitted.  The dough was absolutely amazing to work with, but it really does make 4 dozen buns so either halve the recipe or plan to share.  I compromised by making a few dozen buns and then doing a braided loaf and wreath.  The buns themselves are not sweet in the way I think most Americans would think "sweet", but at the same time they're not truly savory either.  It's hard to describe, but if you're one of those people (and I am) who thinks cinnamon rolls are often sickly sweet you'll love these.  And with that beautiful, saffron-y yellow color, they're like little buns of sunshine.