The countdown is on! Only 17 days left to go, sorry don’t want to stress you out but what will you be baking this Christmas? Maybe you don’t fancy making mince pies this year and want to try something a little different. I want to share this with you in case you’re looking for any last minute inspiration.
There is one spice that dominates at Christmas time in Scandinavia and that is saffron. Despite being the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is widely used. Most common is lussekatter, a bun shaped into an ‘S’ to resemble a cat’s tail or saffransbullar, a saffron bun filled with almond paste, but it is also used in a number of other sweet and savoury dishes. It has a wonderful golden hew and a distinctive flavour.
For me the making of saffron buns brings back the fondest of memories. My mum and Mormor (Granny) would bake these golden delights together in preparation for Christmas. The run up to the big day was always so busy in our house, sourcing the best ham to cook for the Julbord (Christmas table) making and rolling dozens of meatballs, deciding which pickled herrings we favoured and baking my favourite Janssons frestelse (Janssons temptation). Potatoes cut into matchsticks, cooked with onions, milk, cream and Swedish anchovies. If you’ve never tried it you must!
Here’s how to shape the wreath.
Christmas Saffron Wreath with Cranberries and Orange
- 15 g Fresh Bakers Yeast
- 130 ml Milk
- 260 g of Strong White Flour
- a good pinch sea salt
- 0.5 g Saffron Strands
- 55 g Butter cut into small dice & room temperature
- 30 g Caster Sugar
- 1 Large egg 55g, use half for the dough & half for glazing the wreath
- 60 g Caster Sugar
- 100 g Ground Almond
- Zest of an Orange
- 80 g Butter room temperature
- 80 g Dried Cranberries soak in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and roughly chop
- Begin by grinding the saffron in a pestle and mortar. Crumble the yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attached, heat the milk with the saffron to 38°C and pour into the mixing bowl and stir to incorporate the yeast with the milk. Add the flour, sugar and salt and mix until a dough forms on a slow speed. Once the dough has come together add half the egg and the butter, increase the pace to medium/high and work the dough for another 5-8 minutes or until it feels shiny and smooth. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with clingfilm and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Mix the ground almond, orange zest, butter and caster sugar until you have a smooth paste, add the cranberries, set to one side.
- When the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. The dough should measure approximately 50 x 27 cm. Spread an even layer of filling on the surface and roll into a log lengthways. Now take a large sharp knife and cut the log in half lengthways and turn the exposed surface facing upwards, join the top of the two pieces together, then start twisting the two lengths together.
- Transfer the twisted dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and shape it into a wreath by joining the two ends together. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it rise for approximately 45 minutes or until almost double in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C.
- Brush with the remaining egg, bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until it’s golden brown in colour. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with coffee.
- * You can of course make this dough by hand, just follow the steps and knead accordingly.