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I just baked some unleavened Swedish “lussebullar” (saffron buns), and do not know why the dough did not rise.

It is hard to locate the exact fault because I have made several substitutions at one go.  All of the butter was substituted for coconut oil (for a good reason, I had a feeling it would go well with saffron and it does!), half the sugar was substituted for Swedish honey and I used 9.5% fat quark cheese (known as kvarg in Sweden) instead of 1%.  As I recall, I’ve also added the salt and honey/sugar in the wrong order:  salt was added to the oil/milk/yeast concoct first.  Less than a teaspoon of it was added to over a liter of fluid.  There was 100 grams of fresh yeast in that mixture!

What went wrong?  I even left the dough to rise 2-3 times longer than the recipe called for, in case of the cool indoor temperature.  Was the dough too fat to rise, or did the salt kill the yeast?

I will bake again tomorrow and only keep the coconut oil substitution, coconut and saffron do make such a lovely pair.  We plan to “lusse” our neighbours in the village tomorrow night, so I hope the dough leavens tomorrow!

An UPDATE!

On my second try, I stuck to the original recipe (which I have baked with success a few weeks earlier) and the dough still did not leaven.  Unwilling to cast it into the bin, I quickly browsed for tips online.  A few suggested rolling it out to bake as flat bread… and so I did!

Inspired by ICA’s “Saffransbröd med kesella” (Saffron bread with cottage cheese), I present you…

Beidi’s saffron flatbread
Makes 6 trays of flatbread, or about 800 grams.

Ingredients
50 g fresh yeast (or 25 g dry yeast)
150 g butter
1 g saffron  (I use Spanish saffron from “The Gathering of Saffron”.  I sell it too!)
200 ml sugar
500 ml whole milk
250 g kvarg or cottage cheese, 1% fat (0.1% fat works too)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
150 ml raisins
1.6 L flour (that’s 960 g)

Instructions
Crush saffron strands and soak overnight in 1 tbsp of warm water.

First, melt the butter in a pan.  Then add milk and warm it up to finger-warm, remove pan from heat.  Place yeast in a large mixing bowl and add a small splash of warm butter/milk, so it is easier to dissolve yeast thoroughly.  Pour in the rest of the fluid.  I suggest to let it proof for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, line your baking trays and turn up the oven to 225 degC.

Add sugar, salt, egg, saffron, kvarg/cottage cheese to the mixing bowl.  Mix well with a whisk.  Tap the whisk clean on the side of your bowl, you will not need it anymore.  Now add the raisins.

Grab your large wooden spatula.  Add almost all the flour to the bowl and stir it together with the spatula.  You wish you had a bread machine, but fret not, this blogger does not do tedious recipes!  Tip the rest of that flour onto a clean work surface, and pour out the dough.  Scatter more flour on the dough so your hands won’t get sticky.

Start working that dough.  Knead it with your hands till it is pliable and hold well together (not sticky).  It takes about 10 minutes to work up the gluten so your flat bread is soft but chewy.  It’s worth the little hard work!

Slice up dough into 6 portions and cover under a dish cloth.  Flour the work surface generously, flatten one dough portion and flip it downside up so both sides are well-floured.  Take your rolling pin and roll out the dough as large as your oven tray.  Roll evenly in all directions, placing also extra rolling weight on the edges.

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I find the sight of flatten raisins rather amusing.

For a softer, “juicier” flat bread, roll out to 1/2 cm thick.  A thinner dough yields a drier, crispier bread that browns easily.  I find the latter also develops a caramelized flavour which marries well with saffron.

Scatter and spread roughly a pinch of flour on the top surface, before folding the dough in thirds, lengthwise.  This makes for an easy transfer to the baking try.  Unfold dough on the tray and reshape: place palms on opposite corners and stretch outwards.  This makes the dough more even and maximizes the baking surface of the tray, as it is usually the edges that are thicker.

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The Swedish saffron bread is traditionally glazed. Look and taste-wise, I found it more fitting for a flatbread to be unglazed and somewhat floury.

Send your golden yellow tray into the hot oven and watch it bake.  In 4 minutes, large bubbles will form all over the bread.  In 6 minutes, the top starts to brown.  I remove my tray at about 7 minutes, but you may leave it in a minute longer if you will like a crispier, browner flat bread.  You get 6 trays to experiment just how warm your oven is and which dough-thickness or how crisp you’ll like it!

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This level of thickness and done-ness would be what I call a soft and “juicy” flatbread.

Let cool on a rack and cut into 8 slices.  I love it with a thin layer of good Swedish butter.  It really is very very good!  As a bonus, it freezes well and takes up hardly any space.

That very night, we laid our saffron flatbread (and biscotti) in a large basket, put on our safety reflective vests, and set off to “lussa” around the village.  “Lussa” is to go around visiting folk as Saint Lucia, bringing saffron bread and cheer.  Here is us taking turns to hold the same basket for a picture!

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We did this last year and are glad to have the time for it this year.  It took us 3  separate trips to finish our rounds around Rickleå.  It felt great to share some good will with our neighbours and make new acquaintances!

Happy Lucia to one and all!  🙂

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