Growing up I read about St. Lucia traditions in this book. I have loved this Swedish tradition since childhood, but last year was our first year to celebrate it. This year we made almost traditional St. Lucia Buns with a gluten free, vegan twist for our homeschool co-op yesterday. Tonight the kids took a few extra St. Lucia buns to the neighbors while dressed up. Buster made the props for himself and Little Man.
Yesterday at our homeschool co-op I read this book about St. Lucia, and the children made St. Lucia crowns. The boys had the option of crafting and decorating spruce trees in to remember St. Herman who shares this feast day. One of the moms graciously made both recipes from this blog post about St. Herman Day to share alongside our St. Lucia buns and soup. Here is a great book about St. Herman for your bookshelf.
The soup we made during class yesterday, so today my family ate the leftovers. This is a Sicilian St. Lucia soup that I modified only slightly to make it allergy friendly for my family. The original recipe calls for wheat, but we use brown rice instead. We also had to leave out the pepper for Buster. Moreover, the original recipe has you cook each ingredient in separate pot, but I’ve streamlined the instructions to just use one large soup pot. Use one that holds at least seven quarts because this recipe makes a lot of soup!
Every time I make this soup the leftover components of this soup absorb almost all of the broth, so add more water when you reheat or be content to eat it as beans and rice the next day.
Cuccia – St. Lucia Soup
1 lb uncooked brown rice
1 lb dry fava beans
1 lb dry ceci (garbanzo beans)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil (optional, I’ve always forgotten this ingredient and nobody seems to mind)
Lots of water
Soak the beans in separate bowls over night.
About three hours before dinner drain and rinse the fava beans and place them in a pot covered well with water. Add the garlic and bay leaves to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally, skim off any foam, and add water as needed to keep the beans covered.
After one hour add the garbanzo beans with additional water. Bring back to a boil and reduce to simmer for another hour. Stir occasionally, skim off any foam, and add water as needed to keep the beans covered.
After this hour add the rice and the salt to the pot with 4-6 cups of additional water, so that the rice will have enough water to cook while still leaving you with soup. Stir well and place the lid on the pot. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add more water if necessary.
Adjust salt to taste and pour olive oil over the top as desired.
I started with the St. Lucia Bun Recipe here and worked to make it vegan. Last year I tried it with yeast, and this year I resorted to baking powder. It was missing the yeasty flavor, but we liked the outcome.
Gluten Free – Vegan St. Lucia Buns
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon guar gum (omit if using a blend that already includes xanthan or guar gum)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer powder
raisins, as garnish
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small microwave safe bowl combine the coconut oil, milk, water, and crumbled saffron threads. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave for another 15 seconds, and stir. If the oil is not melted, heat for another 15 seconds until it is. Set the milk mixture aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, and mix well.
Add the liquid mixture and mix until the dry ingredients have incorporated the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer up to high and allow it to beat for a minute or so. Some of the dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl and should be relatively smooth, but tacky to the touch. If the dough seems too stiff, begin to add a little bit more milk, a tablespoon at a time, beating in between additions until the proper consistency is reached. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it fits the above description.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, and divide with a bench scraper into 10-12 equal portions.
For each portion of dough sprinkle very lightly with flour and roll back and forth into a rope about 9 inches in length that tapers slightly at each end. The dough should be pretty easy to handle. Place the rope of dough perpendicular to your body, and curl one end of the dough toward the right and back on itself in a coil. Curl the other end of the dough back on itself in the opposite direction in a coil (see photo). Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Place the pieces of shaped dough on a nonstick or parchment lined rimmed baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another. Place the raisins in the center of the two coils at the end of each roll. Brush each roll with a little almond milk.
Place the rolls in the center of the preheated oven and bake rotating once during baking for 12-15, or until cooked throughout. Since these are vegan, they won’t brown the same as other baked goods, but they will taste great anyway.