Tähtipullat - Star Buns

Today is Saint Lucia's Day. The traditional food on Saint Lucia's Day are Lucia-pullat (or Lussebullar in Swedish), meaning Lucia Buns. Basically they are sweet buns with saffron (the dough will get a bright yellow colour from saffron). (And no, the pictures here nor the recipe are not of Lucia Buns, explanation will follow).

Btw, (in addition to other pros) blogging can be quite informative as I just figured why Lucia Buns are called LUSSEbullar or LUSSEkatter in Swedish. I've always found it "Lusse" a weird term to refer to SAINT Lucia. The day has actually paganic roots: Lussi, a female demon/witch/what-so-ever, riding the dark night... The celebration is to give protection to people against her and other evil spirits on the shortest day of the year (but I won't be getting into that [one word: Julian]).

As much as I love food traditions specific to certain dates, I'm actually not sure if I like the taste of saffron here... [It must be too expensive a taste for me lol] so that's why I decided to post a star bun recipe instead (I'm sorry for the long intro which isn't even very relevant here now...). Could it be that my dislike to saffron comes from the fact that I'm brunette?? (As one might have some bitter feelings towards Lucia's Day as traditionally a blonde girl is chosen to wear the candle crown to represent Lucia and to lead the procession.) Though I must admit that I like the taste in other foods and actually I just tasted Keisari's saffron roll (sahramikierre) and it was delicious! Saffron buns I've tasted previously have always somehow lacked in taste and been dry, but maybe it has just been because of bad baking. I think I must give them a chance, so maybe I'll post a recipe next year.

But this Christmas' buns are star buns: they are basically normal cardamom buns topped with cookie dough. If you want, you can also substitute gingerbread dough for cookie dough to make gingerbread star buns.

Star buns

See the recipe for Shrove Buns

"Star Dough"

50 g butter
60 g sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp baking powder
160 g wheat flour
(1-2 Tbsp milk or cream, if needed)

Crumble the fresh yeast to a bowl (or if using dry yeast, mix it with appr. half of the flour). Melt the butter and add the milk to it. Check the temperature, and either warm it or let it cool to obtain the temperature of 38 C (or 42-43 C if using dry yeast). Usually I have to warm it a bit (the butter rises on top and as it's hotter than the milk under, so mix carefully when testing the temperature). Add the liquid gradually to the bowl if using fresh yeast and let the yeast dissolve before pouring in the rest of the liquid. Add the sugar, salt, cardamom and half of the whisked egg (save the other half for brushing). Add the wheat flour little by little (if using dry yeast, use first the half containing the yeast). When the batter resembles thick pancake batter beat it for some time in order to get some air into the dough and to gain elasticity. Add more flour to obtain a smooth dough that starts to unstick from the bowl. Knead it and then cover it with a cling-film or cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size (appr. 45 minutes depending heavily on the temperature).

Meanwhile, make the "Star Dough" by mixing the soft butter and sugar. Then add the egg. Mix the dry ingredients together and combine with the cream to the dough. Place in fridge.

Once the yeast dough has risen, punch the air softly out and knead it on a floured surface. Divide it into small buns (I made about 10 big buns from this, but if you want smaller, go ahead). Roll them into balls and let them rest under a cloth appr. 30 minutes until risen. While they are rising, warm the oven into 200-225 C and make the star cookies by rolling the cold Star Dough and cutting star shaped cookies.

Brush the buns with the remaining egg and place a star cookie on top. Bake them for 10-15 minutes in the middle rack, until golden brown (The star cookie part should stay light).

Actually I just realized they resemble quite a lot Japanese Melon Pans ^^

 One bun was all alone in the freezer way over Shrove time, so I decided to use leftover whipped cream to make a Star Shrove Bun (a marzipan + whipped cream filling).

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