In large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Scald the milk and add the butter to it; cool until the butter is melted and the mixture is lukewarm.
Preheat oven to 250°F Lay the saffron threads on a piece of foil and place in the oven until toasted, about 5 minutes. Pulverize the toasted saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a cup. Add 1 Tablespoon of the milk and butter mixture.
Add the saffron mixture, milk and butter mixture, sugar, salt, raisins and eggs to the yeast. Beat until blended. Stir in half the flour and beat until smooth and satiny. Add the remaining flour gradually to make a stiff dough. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
SAINT LUCIA BRAIDED WREATH: Punch the dough down and divide into three parts. Shape each part into a ropelike stand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand.
Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid. Brush with the beaten egg. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy. Preheat oven to 375°F Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack. 1 large wreath.
SAINT LUCIA BUNS: Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch the dough down and divide it into 32 parts. Shape each part into a rope about 8 inches long. Place two ropes side by side so they are parallel and touching each other. Curl all four ends toward the center to form a square with rounded corners. Place the buns on the parchment covered baking sheets. Let rise until puffy, about 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 450°F for about 10 minutes, until golden. Cool on rack. 16 buns.
Scandinavian Feasts Beatrice Ojakangas.