In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) water. Let stand until yeast is soft, about 5 minutes. Crush cardamom seed on a hard surface with a flat-bottom glass. Add cardamom to bowl along with salt, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, ground almonds, milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, and egg yolks; mix to blend. Add 5 cups flour and stir until moistened.
Divide dough into 20 equal pieces (about 1/4-cup size) and shape each into a smooth ball. On an unfloured board, roll 1 ball at a time under your palms to make a 16-inch rope. Cut the rope in half crosswise. On a buttered 14- by 17-inch baking sheet (you'll need 2), lay 1 cut rope across the other to form an X. Roll each cut end to the center, forming a bun composed of 4 coils. Repeat to shape other buns, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Firmly press 1 raisin deep into the center of each coil (you'll need 4 raisins for each bun, about 1/4 cup total).
This recipe yields 20 buns.
Comments: Though the Scandinavian tradition is to serve these buns on St. Lucia Day, December 13, the Fowler family of Olympia, Washington, also presents them at their holiday buffet. The girl in the family who has most recently turned 12 or 13 years old, wearing a white dress and a crown with candles, offers the buns to guests. The buns are also fine at breakfast with raspberry jam. If making buns up to 1 day ahead, cool, wrap airtight, and store at room temperature; freeze to store longer. Reheat, sealed in foil and thawed, in a 350 degree oven until warm, about 10 minutes.