1 Heat milk, saffron, sugar: In a small pot, heat the milk, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together until the milk is steamy. Remove from heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool until about 115°F, or warm to the touch, but not hot.
2 Sprinkle the yeast over the warm saffron-infused milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
3 Whisk flour, sugar, salt, cardamom: In the bowl of a stand-up mixer* whisk together 3 1/2cups (490 g) of the flour, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, salt and ground cardamom (if using).
*You can make this recipe without a mixer, for me it’s just a bit easier with one.
4 Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast milk saffron mixture, the eggs, the butter, and the sour cream. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated.
5 Knead the dough: Switch to the dough hook of your mixer (if using, otherwise knead by hand). On low speed start to knead the dough. Slowly add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition. Do this until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it.
6 Let dough rise: Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. (Note at this point you can make ahead and refrigerate overnight if you wish.)
Let sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. (One way to tell that the dough is ready is that you poke your finger in it and it takes quite a bit of time for the indentation left by your finger to go away.)
7 Form dough into S shapes: When the dough has doubled in size, gently press it down and knead it a couple of times. Break off a piece and form it into a ball about 2 inches wide (60 to 70 grams if you are weighing). Roll the ball out into a snake, about 14 inches long.
Then Curl the ends in opposite directions, forming an “S” with spirals at each end. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.
8 Let sit for second rise: Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough shapes double in size, 30 minutes to an hour.
9 Brush with egg wash, place raisins on buns: Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Using a pastry brush, brush some beaten egg over the tops and sides of the uncooked buns. Place raisins in the centers of the “S” spirals.
10 Bake: Place in the oven and bake at400°F (205°C) for about 10 to 11 minutes (turning halfway through cooking to ensure even browning), until the buns are golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before eating.