Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lusse kata

A Swedish christmas just is not complete without Lussekata. I spoke before in my saffron chicken post about these delicious sweet saffron breads and how I am totally addicted to saffron, once again I have to discuss the expense of the spice however my local market trader "The Spanish Food Cupboard" sells premium grade spanish saffron at a fraction of the price of the supermarkets.
 I know that the cost of saffron will be hugely to do with the time consuming labour, picking out each tiny stamen of each crocus flower one at a time.
No Swedish household would ever celebrate christmas without the beloved Lussekata bun, a bread dedicated to the jul time event of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucia), each year one particular young girl would be Santa Lucia and would wear a white long night gown with a red sash and a ring of candles on her head, my mother would always tell me stories of when she too was the Santa lucia. These breads are incredibly flavoursome and totally addictive, very similar to a brioche with copious amounts of saffron. 
I have to reiterate my childhood memory when my mother would make these breads in the run up to christmas, the smell of the dough rising ontop of the boiler was always to much temptation to take, so much so that I would often eat the raw dough, and although every year I would always get a tremendous stomach ache as a result of my greed I would still repeat my mistakes annually. They are wonderful breads to make, easy for even the most novice bakers.
This recipe will make roughly 24 lussekata
You will need:
500ml of whole milk
50g of fresh yeast
200g of butter
900g of strong white bread flour
150g of caster sugar plus 1 teaspoon of sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
2g saffron threads
2 eggs for an egg wash

Preheat the oven 180 degrees c.

Melt the butter in the pan or in a microwave and set aside to cool. Warm the milk until it is luke warm or blood temperature, add the yeast, butter and 150g of sugar and set aside to activate. Mean while in a large bowl or mixer (my mother has a seriously ancient machine) mix the the salt and flour together. In a pestle and mortar crush the saffron with the teaspoon of sugar, the sugar will help to break down the saffron threads. Add the saffron powder to the yeast and then the yeast mixture to the flour and salt. Begin to either knead by hand or mix until the mixture starts to come together, add a large egg and knead or mix for a minimum of 10 minutes with a machine or 20 minutes by hand. Every brand of flour is different so if you dough is a little on the wet side add a tablespoon more flour, the dough should be slightly tacky to touch as this will create the lightest dough. 
 Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for at least an hour before you roll, plait and twist your dough into the shapes and patterns you desire. We usually roll out a small sections of dough into a long thin sausage and roll into two swirls from opposite ends but you can really do whatever you desire. Stud each Lusse kata with fat plump raisins and brush with egg wash. Set aside somewhere warm and allow to rise again for a further half hour before baking for 15-20 minutes, until golden and delicious.

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