This take on Sweden’s famous saffron buns adds white chocolate and almond paste to mix things up. No Swedish Christmas is complete without the popular treat.
These buns are best made with mandelmassa (almond paste), which can be obtained from a specialist shop or you can make your own using Swedish Food's recipe which you can find in their Swedishfoodpedia article about almonds.
The dough is quite moist making it a bit tricky to handle so it is easier if made in a machine. (Use the dough hook and knead for one minute on minimum as you add the liquid, butter and quark, then 4 minutes on a low speed (2 or 3) and finally finish off by kneading by hand for a further minute.)
If you bake them in paper cases (cinnamon bun cases are ideal if you can find them), they make excellent presents.
If you would like fresh saffron buns for breakfast you can let them rise overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, pop some frozen buns in a warm oven for 10 minutes.
Dissolve the saffron and sugar in a little alcohol, such as some rum, brandy or amaretto, the day or even the week before to bring out the maximum flavour from the filling.
1 packet saffron threads (usually sold in 0.4 g or 0.5 g packets)
70 g (5 tbsp) golden caster (superfine) sugar
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk (4%)
450 g (3½ cups) strong (bread) flour
7 g (1½ tsp) "fast action" dried yeast (1 packet)
½ tsp salt
100 g (4 oz) Quark (1%)
100 g (1 stick) unsalted (sweet) butter, softened
Filling and glaze
100 g (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
100 g (4 oz) white chocolate, chopped
150 g (7 oz) mandelmassa (almond paste), grated
75 g (½ cup) dried cranberries, raisins or frozen blackcurrants
1 beaten egg, to glaze
2 tbsp pearl sugar
1. Place the saffron threads in a mortar with half the sugar and grind with the pestle until evenly mixed.
2. Put the milk in a saucepan with the sugar and saffron mixture and heat to 40°C.
3. Put the flour, the remaining sugar and salt into a bowl and mix. Add the yeast and mix.
4. Gradually stir in the milk mixture, the cream cheese and the softened butter in stages. Bring together to form a dough and knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes (5 minutes if you are using a machine).
5. Clean the bowl and put the dough back in it and cover with a shower cap (many hotels helpfully provide them!) or cling film (food wrap) and leave it in a warm place for an hour or until it has doubled in size (or overnight in the fridge).
6. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and punch once or twice to knock it back. Roll it out until it is approximately 40 cm x 25 cm (16”x10”).
7. Spread with butter and then sprinkle with the chopped chocolate, almond paste and fruit.
8. Roll the dough up along the long edge into a sausage and cut into 2 cm (¾”) thick rounds. Place the rounds onto greased baking trays and cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 20-30 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 190°C).
10. Brush the buns with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and then bake for about 7-9 minutes until golden brown, but still moist in the middle. Leave to cool on a rack.
Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.