Friday, December 14, 2012

A Swedish Christmas Tradition; Lussekatter

Lussekatt, an important part of a traditional Swedish Christmas.
You start eating them on the day of St.Lucia, Dec13.

Dec 13 is an important day in Sweden. It´s the day of St.Lucia. Lucia means “the one who comes with the light”. She died as a martyr for her Christian faith. Her incredible faith is celebrated Dec 13. It´s an old Swedish tradition to drink glögg a warm, spicy wine and eat Lusse Katter which is a delicious pastry with saffron during Lucia. The saffron gives the pastry a yellow color, a symbol of light.

There´s many different stories about lussekatten. According to one story St. Nikolaus gave them as gifts to the children.

Several stories have to do with worshipping the sun, like the Vikings did. The pastries yellow color is here a symbol of the sun.

For most people it´s not at all about the origin. Lucia is an interesting celebration. A bright light in the winter darkness. The celebration takes place very early in the morning. According to some beliefs there are many dark forces in action on Dec 13 and you´re supposed to stay awake all night to watch out for them, in the morning you celebrate Lucia (the light).

Every year each town, school and most companies vote for their own Lucia. Most often this “competitions” turns in to beauty competitions and a blond, blue eyed girl wins. She wears a white nightgown and has burning candles in her hair leading a caravan of girls that also wear white gowns but without candles in their hair. The girls wear a red scarf around their waist as a symbol Lucia´s death as a martyr. There are boys among them too; they are dressed up like Santa´s helpers or gingerbreads! The whole caravan sings a special Lucia song and other Christmas Carroll’s.  They sing for elder people and people in need. Some go from house to house and sing for neighbors. Children often sing for parents.

Many organizations have their own Lucia caravan to sing for a good cause.

After the celebration everybody eats Lusse Katter Some people have parties, social gatherings in the evening were they drink glögg and eats Lusse Katter. It´s common to eat gingerbread as well.

My daughter Hayley and I baked Lussekatter yesterday on Lucia. According to the tradition you start eating them at Lucia (Dec 13) and eat them until Christmas. You can´t find them during the rest of the year. It´s a very popular pastry and many people are counting the days to Lucia so they finally can eat them.



This is what you need for 18 big Lussekatter:

A pinch of Saffron (if you like the taste of saffron use more)

6oz unsalted butter

2 cups milk or half and half

3/4 cup sugar

2+1 eggs

1½oz dry yeast (6 small pouches)

2½lbs white baking flour


o   Mix 2lbs of the flour with the yeast and the sugar in a big bowl.

o   Melt the butter on the stove, add the milk. Heat the liquid until right before the first bubble (very hot!). Add saffron. Stir. Add two eggs.

o   Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix the dough thoroughly until it´s very smooth and easy to work with. Add some more flour if needed.

o   Let the dough rest under a cover for 15 minutes.

o   Cut the dough in 18 pieces.

o   Form the pieces like in the pictures.


o   Put the pieces on baking sheets. Add two raisins in the middle of the buns. (Some people add extra raisins in the dough for a sweeter bun.)

o   Let them rest for 20 mins.

o   Paint them with the extra egg.

o   Bake them in the middle of the oven at 480 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes, or until they have a beautiful golden color.




If you want to be really Swedish you enjoy them with warm wine, glögg, but they taste great with coffee or tea as well.

Maybe you want to add Lussekatter to your family´s Christmas traditions?

Tell me about the one pastry you can´t be without during this Holiday season! Feel free to share the recipe if you want too.

XO Maria