Swedish Lucia Bread
Yield: Makes 22
Legend has it that on December 13, 1764, a gentleman in Sweden was roused in the middle of the night by a beautiful voice.
He saw a young woman in white moving through his room singing. She had wings and was carrying a candle.
That was Lucia the Saint.
She brought light, food,and wine as comfort on what was, in the Gregorian calendar, the longest night of the year.
We celebrate Saint Lucia on December 13. Children will walk with lit candles singing the beautiful Lucia carol and bringing the Lucia bread.
1 1/2 ounces yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1/8 ounce saffron
Scant 1 cup butter, melted
2 pounds all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a mixing bowl, then add the saffron and keep stirring until the mixture turns yellow.
Add the melted butter. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then stir in the sugar and raisins.
Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes cleanly from the edge of the bowl.
Knead the dough on a floured counter for 10 minutes, until it is shiny but not sticky.
Put the dough back in the bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
Lightly knead the dough again on a floured counter.
Divide into 22 equal pieces. Roll them into sausages then curl the ends so that each piece is shaped like the number eight.
Put one raisin in the middle of each circle.
Place the breads on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, cover with dish towels, and let rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the risen breads with beaten egg.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown all over.
Let cool on a wire rack. Eat them as they are, or spread with cold butter.
Submitted by Richard Lilja,
FOUND AT; http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Swedish-Lucia-Breads-354550