Today is known as “Lucia” in Sweden. I love Lucia and have done so ever since I found myself in this winter wonderland I now call home. The lighting of candles on this day symbolises, among other things, that light always conquers darkness… an important message to reinforce as the darkest day of the year fast approaches. I wont go into the history of the celebration here, but if you’re curious, check out this Wikipedia entry. I thought about baking traditional Swedish saffron buns in honour of my little boy joining his first nursery school Lucia procession (dressed as a gingerbread man). Yes, I thought about baking saffron buns… then decided that I couldn’t be bothered fussing with yeast and traditional recipes. So instead I decided to do something wild and crazy… and try baking saffron cupcakes combining inspiration from two very different cupcake recipes and some extra flavours (vanilla, orange and almond)! I sadly ended up missing the L’s Lucia concert (long story) and, after crying many tears over that, decided to push ahead with my kitchen experiments in order to boost my spirits and create something special for this special day on the Swedish calendar and also our family’s personal calendar (it is 10 years today that my now-husband asked me to be his girlfriend!). This is the festive and delicious result of what I consider to be my first truly original cupcake recipe… one that will no doubt be a family Lucia tradition from now on!


Makes: approx. 12 cupcakes



2.5 dl all-purpose flour
1 egg
.6 dl almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.75 dl caster sugar
.75 dl oil
2.25 dl milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 tsp ground saffron
A couple of drops of almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, saffron and salt.
  3. Whisk together oil, milk, egg, vanilla and almond extract.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way. Bake for approx. 18-20 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.


As I made cupcakes and not saffron buns, frosting was called for (well, what’s a cupcake without a little something on top 😉 ?). Luckily I had recently made yummy vegan vanilla frosting during my blessingway cupcake baking frenzy, so I still had some ingredients on hand and was fairly comfortable with adapting the recipe. I thought about flavour combinations that would work well and, having never made orange buttercream, thought I’d give that a go. So glad I did! It’s delicious! The citrus tang marries well with the fragrant almond/saffron combination. The grated orange zest also compliments the saffron coloured cupcakes and mimics the appearance of saffron threads. A perfect match. And as saffron buns here often come sprinkled with something known as “pearl sugar”, I thought it fitting that each cupcake be adorned with a few pretty edible pearls.


Makes: enough frosting to generously cover a dozen cupcakes


120 g nonhydrogenated shortening
120 g nonhydrogenated margarine
350g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
  1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for another few minutes until fluffy.


My little gingerbread man tucking into to a special Lucia treat

My little gingerbread man tucking into to a special Lucia treat


I am so happy with my creation! Looking forward to Lucia 2013 already!


And there you have an original Miss Marzipan take on a Lucia-themed treat (that I am very proud of, I must say)! 😀 Glad Lucia mina vänner!

*The two recipes that inspired my cupcake recipe were this one by Love & Olive Oil and this one by Cupcake Project

43 thoughts on “SAFFRON, ALMOND & VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH ORANGE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (just in time for Swedish Lucia celebrations!)

  1. Looks so delicious and so professional! His costume is so cute.
    What part of Sweden are you living? I visited Göteborg earlier this year and fell in love. If there is anywhere I would want to live it would be Sweden. Not only was it so beautiful and the people so nice, but the dairy free options you have at the supermarket were amazing. Do you speak Swedish?

    • Thanks so much! 🙂 x
      I live in the Stockholm area, but I love Götegborg too 🙂 Yes, there are loads of veggie and organic options here compared to Australia… available in regular supermarkets and not just from “specialty” grocers. I do speak some Swedish (not as much as I should, perhaps… but I can). My little boy is bilingual already, which is lovely 🙂

  2. Pingback: Cinnamon Rolls for Lucia « Faith in the Home

    • Oh how lovely! Thanks very much 🙂 No, I decided not to use pearl sugar, but rather actual edible pearls (so it’s my “tribute” to the commonly-used “pearl sugar”… but with a bit of a dressed-up touch 😉 ) Must check out your blog too 🙂

      • I posted my recipe for Lussekatter and Pepparkakor this week! I can’t wait for my mom’s rice pudding on Christmas and she makes authentic Swedish meatballs as well. (Not sure if I will make an exception to my plant-based diet for these this year.) I love the edible pearls, very fancy!

  3. How pretty! I hope you had a wonderful Lucia day. When I used to live in Finland, we celebrated it too – with some Lucia bullar 🙂

  4. First of all I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!

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