½ cup (57 grams) finely chopped roasted salted shelled pistachios
½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons (4 grams) ground cardamom
1 to 1½ teaspoons (1 to 1.5 grams) lemon zest
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, whisk together ¼ cup (60 grams) warm water, yeast, and ½ teaspoon (2 grams) granulated sugar by hand. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Add ¾ cup (180 grams) milk, 2 tablespoons (30 grams) lemon juice, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and remaining ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar, whisking to combine.
With mixer on medium speed, add flour and salt, beating just until dough comes together. Scrape sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat for 4 minutes. Add softened butter, and beat until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 6 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.
On a lightly floured surface, stretch dough into a 16×12-inch rectangle using wet hands.
In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pistachios, melted butter, cinnamon, cardamom, and zest. Spread filling onto dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Starting with one long side, roll dough into a log; pinch seam to seal. Place log, seam side down, on work surface. Trim ½ inch off each end. Cut into 8 rolls, and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Bake until light golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, remaining ¼ cup (60 grams) milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 grams) lemon juice until combined. Place in a resealable plastic bag. Cut corner from bag, and drizzle icing onto rolls.
Keep your hands wet when stretching dough. This keeps dough from sticking and also keeps you from adding additional flour. Brush any additional flour off dough with a dry pastry brush as you are rolling.
You won’t ever go back to classic cinnamon rolls again. We filled these golden rolls with chocolate, but not just any chocolate—Mexican cinnamon chocolate. Stone-ground, Mexican-style dark chocolate is filled with warm cinnamon spice and has a subtle grittiness that gives these cinnamon rolls even more explosive flavor and complex texture. Once you smother the rolls in the luscious Cream Cheese Glaze, serve them straight from the skillet to keep them warm and gooey.
3½ to 3¾ cups (438 to 469 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast*
2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt
½ cup (120 grams) water
½ cup (120 grams) whole milk
⅔ cup (152 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 large egg (50 grams)
2 tablespoons (10 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
⅔ cup (113 grams) chopped Mexican-style stone-ground cinnamon chocolate (3 disks) (see PRO TIP)
Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe on opposite page)
Garnish: ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1½ cups (188 grams) flour, ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar, yeast, and 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) salt.
In a medium saucepan, heat ½ cup (120 grams) water, milk, and ⅓ cup (76 grams) butter over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture, and beat at medium speed until combined. Add egg, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2 cups (250 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, smooth, and somewhat sticky dough forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 8 to 9 minutes. Add up to remaining ¼ cup (31 grams) flour, if necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round.
Lightly spray a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, cinnamon, remaining ⅓ cup (76 grams) butter, remaining ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt.
Lightly punch down dough. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Spread cocoa mixture onto dough, leaving a ½-inch border on one long side. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Starting with opposite long side, roll up dough, jelly roll style; pinch seam to seal. Gently shape log to 18 inches long and even thickness, if necessary. Using a serrated knife dipped in flour, cut log into 12 slices (about 1½ inches thick). Place slices, cut side down, in prepared skillet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Bake until lightly golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, loosely covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in skillet for 10 minutes. Top with Cream Cheese Glaze; garnish with cinnamon, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*We used Red Star® Active Dry Yeast.
PRO TIP: We used Taza Chocolate Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Mexicano, available at Whole Foods, local Hispanic grocery stores, or online. Very minimally processed, Mexican chocolate has a grainier, chalkier texture than the chocolate you might normally get and offers more-complex, explosive flavor. Any type of Mexican cinnamon dark chocolate, available at most grocery stores, or 50% cacao dark chocolate will work in this recipe.
Every December 13, across the snowy towns of Scandinavia, families rise early in the dark to begin preparing for a centuries-old winter solstice celebration, a festival of lights. The eldest daughter of each household wakes first. Donning a white gown with a red sash and a candle-lit wreath crown, she carries a tray of brilliant golden St Lucia buns from room to room, singing carols and serving the sweet saffron-scented buns to family and friends in honor of St. Lucia. Soon they will take to the streets for a processional, where a girl—nominated by her town as “Lucia”—carries a basket of St. Lucia buns, handing them out to the merry masses. She is accompanied by girls in white dresses and boys with star-coned hats. They twirl and sing along the streets. This is St. Lucia Day.
You can’t talk about St Lucia buns without mentioning the shapes. The soft, supple dough allows for a variety of them—from a braided wreath to the wilder prästens hår (“priest’s hair”). The classic S shape, with each end of the dough rope curling up in an opposite direction, is the most common and easy to execute. The origin of the S shape and its connection with St. Lucia is fairly unknown, but there are several theories. The most prevalent is that the S is supposed to resemble curled-up cats, hence the name lussekatter. In his new cookbook, The Nordic Baking Book (Phaidon Press, 2018), Magnus Nilsson asserts that the real lussekatt shape has four curls, and the common S shape is actually called jugalt, which means “Christmas boar.”
No matter the shape, St Lucia buns are vibrant enough to bring warmth to even the coldest of Scandinavian winters. In the spirit of this season, do as the Swedes and take to the kitchen to bake out the dark. Rest assured, St Lucia buns will bring the light.
These Swedish ST Lucia Buns are made with sour cream and vodka. The traditional version requires the saffron to infuse in vodka overnight so it can develop an intense color, but our method is much faster.
⅓ cup (67 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar, divided
½ teaspoon saffron, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon (15 grams) vodka
⅔ cup (160 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon (9 grams) active dry yeast
⅓ cup (80 grams) sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
4 cups (480 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
Garnish: Swedish pearl sugar*
Using a mortar and pestle, grind together 1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar and saffron. Place in a small bowl, and add vodka. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat ⅔ cup (160 grams) milk and remaining ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 110°F (43°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat. Whisk in yeast; let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in sour cream and 1 egg (50 grams); whisk in saffron mixture.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place yeast mixture. With mixer on low speed, gradually add half of flour mixture, beating until incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next, about 5 minutes total, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, beating until incorporated. Continue beating until dough is smooth and elastic, about 16 minutes.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape dough into a smooth round, and place in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 19 (50-gram) pieces. (Keep dough covered while shaping so it does not dry out.) Roll each portion into a 12- to 13-inch rope, letting ends taper. Roll each end into a tight spiral in opposite directions, meeting in the middle to create an S shape. Place at least 3 inches apart on prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg (50 grams) and remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) milk. Brush top and sides of each bun with egg wash. Top with pearl sugar, if desired.
Bake until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cool on a wire rack. Buns will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.