Lucia Muffins Recipe

These muffins are saffron-smacked and riddled with golden raisins, buttermilk battered and barely sweet. Said another way, Lucia buns reinterpreted as muffins. If you love saffron give them a try.

Lucia Muffins

Some of you aren't going to like these muffins, I just know it. But a number of you are going to love them. So, non-traditional muffin fans? These are for you. At a glance they look like cornbread muffins, but aren't. Far from it, in fact. These muffins are saffron-smacked and riddled with golden raisins, buttermilk battered and barely sweet. Said another way, Lucia buns reinterpreted as muffins. If you love saffron give them a try. And come to think if it, like cornbread, they might make an interesting ingredient in a stuffing, or panzanella.


The recipe was inspired by a recipe in A Swedish Kitchen, which in turn was inspired by a recipe in the Swedish food magazine Allt om Mat. I adapted it to the ingredients I had on hand and finally put to use, the straight-sided, Lodge cast-iron muffin tins that have been sitting on my countertop for weeks - amazing, btw.

Saffron aficionados, give these a go. The rest of you, sit tight, I have another baked treat coming up I can't wait to share. I promise promise promise it is worth the wait.

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Lucia Muffins

I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour here, but you can exclusively use all-purpose flour if that is what you have available.

butter to grease muffin tins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 loose teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup / 3.5 oz / 100g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g golden raisins, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F / 200C with a rack in the top third. Butter a standard 12-muffin pan, alternately you can use liners.

Melt the butter over low heat and set aside to cool. You want the butter to be melted, but not hot.

Very briefly toast the saffron in a small skillet over low heat, stirring and shaking the pan continuously to avoid burning. The saffron should be fragrant, but stop before the threads change color. You are definitely better off under cooking than overcooking the saffron.

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron threads with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Pour the buttermilk into a cereal bowl. Add the saffron mixture, then the egg whites, water, and melted butter. Stir until well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, remaining sugar, and almonds. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and sprinkle with the raisins. Use a spatula to stir until everything barely comes together, avoid over-mixing. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups until about three-quarters full. The batter should fill 10-12 muffin cups.

Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into one of them comes out clean. Pop the muffins out of the tins as soon as it is reasonable (after a few minutes) and cool on a rack. If you leave them in the pan they steam and can be challenging to remove.

Makes 10 - 12 muffins (12 in the Lodge cast iron muffin pans)...

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 25 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Wow, how lovely! I so wish-listed that muffin pan, I love Lodge! I definitely need to make up a gluten-free version of these babies!


Low fat, low sugar - what's not to like! I will try these in the stuffing casserole I have been relegated to prepare this weekend. Pear-Parsnip - that way I can keep the raisins in the recipe too!

Primordial Soup

great recipe! can't wait to try, thanks!


Are there specfic places where I can purchase saffron? At the grocery, it costs almost $20 for what looks like about 6 threads. I cannot afford this. Or, is there an adequate substitute? Thanks. Love your recipes.


Heidi, your recipes NEVER disappoint - they are always so original. I see why you think some people wouldn't like this. I for one CANT WAIT to make it ;)


I love saffron and now your muffin pans. They look very ethnic

Radhika Vasanth

Any chance something for the buttermilk substitute, I am vegan. I can use Earth Balance butter for butter. I like the oat flour suggestion as a substitute for the white flour and perhaps replacing some of the wheat flour with org. corn meal I'd experiment with. I think craisins or dried blueberries, currents, or finely chopped dates, apricots, figs, crystalized ginger would be a substitute for the raisins.


We'll I'm going to have to adapt these because they sound A-mazing, but my gut is a no-gluten zone. I'm thinking Bette Hagman's Four Flour Blend will sub in easily & maybe some Xanthan Gum since the recipe doesn't call for the binding power of yolks. I'll report back for others who have to avoid traditional flour.


Hi Heidi, these look wonderful on all counts. I believe that these can have a life of their own, besides eating whole. I think I would save a few and turn them into "bread crumb" to use within other dishes. My personal motto is "Think Outside The Box". It could used as a based to make a savory pie , torte or even a filler in my stuff pepers. Great job as always.


I love saffron and am all about the "not so sweet" muffin so these are definitely a YES for me! Thanks for being brave and putting this kind-of-not-really-a-muffin out there :)

Jamie G. Dougherty (JAMIE|LIVING)

I really dislike raisins--do you think dried cranberries or another fruit would be ok? What would go well with the saffron--I do love saffron.


Saffron and golden raisins...sounds delish...

The Healthy Apple

love a muffin that isn't a muffin. Katrina: you can actually grow your own saffron- they come from the saffron crocus and when they come up in the spring you can take the threads off and dry them and use in cooking- a lot cheaper that way :)


I have a feeling I am going to be one of the ones who loves these :)


For saffron may I suggest Trader Joe's. These muffins look great! Every recipe I have tried so far is a delight!!! I am anticipating the delivery of your cookbook (hopefully today) :) Thank you Heidi!


This a great way to make muffins .. perfect for entertaining ..


I've discovered using equal parts white whole-wheat flour and oat flour yields an excellent alternative to ap or ap+whathaveyou in any non-yeasted baking. The oat flour keeps it nice and tender and the wheat flour give it structure.... and 100% whole grains, of course Now I have to figure out what to do with that 10-lb bag of KA ap flour I bought because it was such a good sale price.

Maria Collins, Whole-Grain Texan

wowsers! i am a fan of saffron and never thought about saffron in muffin format, but i bet this would be excellent with a nice spanish-inspired meal or just by themselves!

heather @ chiknpastry

One can never have too many muffin recipes. Looks delicious, thanks for sharing.

Carrie (Love Healthy Living)

The saffron muffins sound interesting. When you said non-tradition muffin and from the color of the muffin, I was thinking probably you used lentil flour to make muffin :) I use saffron in lot of desserts, but I never toast them or grind them. I generally, put them in little warm milk or water to bring out all the flavors. Pistachio might be a good nut to use in these muffins too. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


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