Oops… speaking of really late… Happy New Year!!
click on image to see more about making Lucia cats
Ever since the middle of last December when I saw jg’s post about Lucia cats, I wanted to make them. I left a message in his shout box and lo and behold, an email arrived not long afterward with the recipe. And then our traditional Christmas cooking interrupted as I made cheese cookies, ginger shortbread, several loaves of French-style bread, cranberry sauce, etc. etc.
Finally, a couple of days ago, I decided it was time for us to try Lucia cats. (Even though Santa Lucia Day is long over – or a long way in the future – depending on your point of view.) After some clarification e-mails between here and Sweden (I LOVE the internet!!) at last I was ready to try my hand at making them.
The recipe called for fresh yeast. I usually use active dry yeast and found to my dismay that none of my books had quick and easy equivalent measures. Really?? They all mention that fresh yeast can be used in place of active dry or instant. But I found some information and calculated that I should use around 20gm active dry yeast. What??!!! That seems like a tremendous amount! An email was sent to jg to find out if the 50gm of fresh yeast was a typo. No. That is the correct amount.
And then I remembered some talk in the bread newsgroup (alt.bread-recipes) about baking sweet breads – that sugar, eggs, milk, butter can inhibit yeast action. (Because I usually make lean breads, using only flour, water, salt, and yeast. In fact I’ve been playing with reducing the yeast in those too to make the rise longer so that the bread is even more flavourful. But that’s another story. Don’t let me go off on that tangent just now.)
And then, as we were buying ham at our favourite Polish deli, I saw a little block of yeast in the dairy case. A 100gm block of yeast. It called to me. It told me I HAD to use it in the Lucia cat recipe. I listened to it and bought it.
And I yesterday morning, as snow fell outside, I went about making a batch of Lucia cats. The dough is really soft!! And the smell of saffron and sugar is intoxicating. It really reminded me of one of our favourite Indian desserts srikund.
We tasted the buns in the late afternoon yesterday. They are fabulous!! They are delicate and soft with the lovely hint of saffron that isn’t apparent right away. And they are not nearly as sweet as I expected. They would be fine as dinner rolls. But they’re GREAT with honey and a little more butter (like they need more butter) for breakfast!
Oh yes, and one other thing: remind me to bake the buns on the TOP shelf of the oven so that they don’t get too dark on the bottom. Rrrrrrrrrrrr. (Good thing our steak knives are perfect for scraping off any charred bits.)
edit 10 January 2006:
Here are more photos of Lucia Cat preparation
In Italy, the Julgalt shape (I thought the shape was a “Luciakatt”….) is known as occhi di Santa Lucia, which makes a little more sense to me and perhaps explains why this shape appears to be the most popular….
See the following for another recipe and more shapes:
- Vera H | LUCKA 12 – Lussekatter (in Swedish)
Here is our take on jg’s mother’s recipe:
- recipes from OUR kitchen | Lucia Cats – Sweet Saffron Buns