Saffron Cake


Prepared in a Stoneware Rectangular Dish

Perfect for slicing portions in even amounts, the Rectangular Dish is deep enough for lasagnas and roasts – even with a layer of vegetables beneath to create an organic roasting rack for meats.

1. Place the saffron in a small measuring jug and pour over 100ml of hot water. Cover and leave to steep over night.

2. Line the base and sides of the dish with baking parchment.

3. Stir 1 teaspoon of the sugar into the warm milk, add the yeast and leave for 3 to 4 minutes to begin to work.

4. Sift the flour, salt and spice into a large warm bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar followed by the fruit and peel.

5. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture, cover with a thin layer of flour and leave for 3 to 4 minutes until bubbles start to come through. Add the steeped saffron with the liquid and combine together in the bowl to form a soft dough.

6. Turn the mixture out onto a well-floured board and knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the mixture into the parchment lined dish and press to fit with your hand.

7. Cover with oiled cling film and set to rest in a warm place until it has risen; this will take around 2 hours. (See Cook’s Notes.) Fifteen minutes before the end of resting, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

8. Remove the cling film before placing into the hot oven and baking for 40 to 50 minutes until golden on top and well risen. If the top is becoming too brown reduce the oven temperature a little in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.

9. Remove from the oven, brush the top with the milk and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar. Allow to cool slightly before turning out of the dish and removing the parchment paper. Serve warm or cold with lashings of clotted cream.

Saffron is so light it is a difficult medium to give a weight. A standard supermarket pack usually contains just under 1g, which is a good pinch.

The saffron cake mixture is ready to bake when the top is soft to touch and risen. Because of the dense nature of the mixture it will rise less and more slowly than a bread dough.

Saffron cake is moist and dense and will likely sink a little in the centre on cooling.

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Generous pinch saffron fronds plus 1/3 cup hot water
½ cup warm milk
1 sachet of dried yeast (7g)
500g plain flour plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
175g softened butter
175g soft brown sugar
375g mixed dried fruit
55g chopped candied peel
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Clotted cream to serve

Preparation and Cooking:
Preparation time of 20 minutes plus overnight to steep the saffron plus 2 hours resting time
40 to 50 minutes of cooking time

Serves 8