7 December, 2016

Lussebullar – Traditional Christmas Pastry


One of the most fun parts of moving to another country is experiencing different traditions and tastes. And, as a bonus, in my family we already love eating and cooking, so it is inevitable for us to taste and also bake Lussebullar!

What is Lussebullar?

It’s basically saffron bread with raisins (but when it comes to baking, it’s a lot more complex than that.) December 13 is St. Lucia Day (Festival of Light) and this day is much celebrated in Sweden. However, we have been told that the Christmas spirit always comes earlier to Sweden. It looks like their are celebrations during the whole of December, so seeing the traditional Swedish Christmas pastry – Lussebullar already taking its place in every corner of Sweden, should not surprise us!


Photo: Busra Zengin

A brief look at Swedish recipes

I started searching for traditional recipes on Swedish websites and blogs. And here are my comments on Swedish recipes:

  1. There are many recipes but each differ from the other. A little consistency would be helpful of course 🙂
  2. The only consistency is about the portion: every recipe is at least for 30 buns or more. Do Swedish families really eat that many buns, or do they give some to the neighbors? That’s a question I have not found the answer to yet!
  3. The measurement is in “dl” even for flour or sugar, which again I’m not used to. And of course 1 dl of sugar weighs different than 1 dl of flour – so “why dl” is another question I still cannot answer. So either check the internet for correspondent units or you can use some kitchen scale or just guess:)
  4. There is this ingredient they called Kesella which I’ve never heard of. It looks like some kind of cream. Half the recipes has this ingredient and half don’t. I used it but I won’t use it next time as I think it makes the dough a little sticky and requires more flour.


Photo: Busra Zengin

Overall, my understanding is that most every Swede has his/her own style when it comes to baking so I decided to be a little experimental, go crazy and not stick to just one recipe! I also got some help from my husband both for the picture taking and the baking part – so thanks honey!

Even with two of us, it took nearly half a day for us to finish, but I think (or I hope) it’s because we’re doing it for the first time. Here is my recipe:

Lussebullar – 15 portions

I basically reduced he recipes on the internet by half. I think 15 buns are still too much for us, but we decided to give some to our Swedish friends in order to get their feedback.

Ingredients – I wrote the Swedish names as well to make the shopping easier

Photo: Busra Zengin

Photo: Busra Zengin

14 gr dry yeast (torr jäst) – the recipes do not say it but if you want to use fresh yeast it should be 50 gr
50 gr butter (smör)
2,5 dl milk (mjölk)
125 gr Kesella
0.5 gr saffron (saffran)
1½ dl sugar (strösocker)
1/4 tea spoon salt (salt)
approximately 500 gr of flour (vetemjöl) – the key point is your dough should not be sticky but also should not be too dense before resting it – so it may be more or less for sough to dough)

For the top of buns:
raisin (russin)
1 egg (ägg)

Let’s get started!

  1. Put the yeast in a big bowl.


    Photo: Busra Zengin

  2. Pestle the saffron with a little sugar in a mortar. (If you, like us, don’t have a mortar, use a little bowl and press with a spoon until the saffron becomes a powder.) Then melt the butter and mix the saffron into it. Stir until the saffron is melted and has a yellow/orange color.
  3. Then pour the milk. And heat the mix until 37 degrees (it is the same as your body temperature so you can sink your finger in the mix to find out the temperature. It should not be too hot or cold.) The temperature is very important for the yeast!
  4. Pour a little of the butter mix onto the yeast in the bowl. Stir it until the yeast melts perfectly. (You can add more mix if necessary). After the yeast dissolves perfectly, pour the remaining mix.
  5. Add the sugar, salt and Kesella, and stir. Then, add the flour. Work the dough with your hands or in a machine. It can take 5 – 10 minutes. In the end the dough should not be sticky.  Then wrap it with some cloth and rest it in a warm place for an hour. (To make the dough rise, it is very important to rest it in a really warm place. So you may use more layers of cloth or put it near the heating etc.) Good news – the hard part is over!
  6. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  7. Open the dough bowl. Put the dough on a floured surface, knead a little. Then cut into pieces of approximately 60 gr or 15 pieces.
  8. Roll each piece and then give it its shape.
  9. Whip the egg and brush it on top of the buns. Put raisins at each end of the bun.
  10. Cook it approximately 15 minutes until the top of the buns becomes brown.

Now you can feel the Christmas spirit! Enjoy your lussebullar.

Written by Busra Zenging

Hej! I am a Newbie who is close to become an Oldbie in Sweden! I’ve been in Stockholm nearly for six months, I already did so many “fika”, swam in cold waters of Sweden, walked barefoot in Stockholm’s parks during the summer and, of course, had too many interactions with the Swedish bureaucracy 🙂 So far so good! My next challenge is job hunting – we’ll see how this will go 😉

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