Lucia Rolls are a tradition for Thanksgiving in our house ever since my sister-in-law, Sharon, introduced me to these exquisite bites of heaven. Apparently, though none of us are the least bit Scandanavian by heritage, this is a traditional treat served for St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th. Being the overachievers that we are, we start early!
In spite of the fact that this recipe makes 48 rolls, they may not last until December 13th…they are that tasty. You can also use this recipe to make 2 large braided loaves, or 1 loaf and 24 rolls, or whatever combination of deliciousness you would like!
They are not difficult, but like all bread, require some planning ahead as there are 2 rises. The recipe that follows has some notes on ingredients and mentions some of my favorite baking tools that make things a bit easier. I am a lazy gourmet…I love to bake and I love good food, but I want efficiency and as little to clean up as possible!
Lucia Bread Recipe
3 pkgs active dry yeast
¾ c warm water
2 ¼ c warm milk
1 ½ c sugar
18 Tbsp butter (room temp, cut into pieces - I use THIS handy tool for nearly every recipe that calls for adding butter to batter or dough. It’s fast and easy - I TOLD you I’m a lazy cook!)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground saffron OR pinch saffron threads* OR 1 ½ tsp cardamom and 1 tsp grated orange peel
11 c all purpose flour
¾ c dark currants
1 egg beaten w/ 1 tbsp water to glaze
*if you have an Indian grocer anywhere near you, it is the BEST place to get your saffron without having to remortgage your house to afford it!
Combine yeast and warm water, let stand 5 minutes. Blend in milk, sugar, butter, eggs, and salt. Stir in 7 or 8 cups flour, saffron (or cardamom/orange peel) and currants. Knead in remaining flour. Kneading by hand is an excellent way to work out your aggressions, but since I am quite non-violent and generally a lazy cook, I do the majority of this in our Kitchen Aid mixer affectionately known as ‘the beast’. Toward the end the dough is stiff enough to tax even the beast so I do finish it off by hand! THIS silicon mat makes a wonderful surface for working dough of any kind.
Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. I use a plastic dough bucket like THIS one so it is easy to see when it has risen to double. Punch down.
Divide dough to make either 48 rolls or 2 braided loaves. A pastry scraper (I have THIS one) is a handy tool for dividing dough, but any kind of knife will work – just don’t cut on your silicon mat! For each roll, work dough into a rope and wind it into a spiral tucking the end under OR for each loaf, braid 3 long ropes and tuck ends under. Place on greased or parchment covered cookie sheets and cover. As you can probably guess, I prefer parchment, which I buy in precut sheets like THESE – no greasy mess and the cookie sheets stay clean! Let rise until doubled in bulk. Glaze with egg wash (I own THIS pastry brush set - no risk of bristles winding up in my baked goods anymore!) and bake @ 350’ until golden which is about 20-30 min for rolls, and slightly longer for loaves.
These freeze beautifully if you can hide them from your family long enough to get some to freeze! Here is a secret…freeze them in Ziploc bags - then you can take them out one at a time when no one is looking and microwave them briefly, just so they are slightly warm, when you want a little something!
With just a hint of sweetness, they are perfect with a morning cup of tea (or coffee) or an afternoon cup of tea or an evening cup of tea…as I am guilty of drinking tea by the pot-full all day long and they go with it SO well…they don’t last long?!
Wishing you wonderful adventures in baking! What’s your favorite baking tradition?
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