If you've ever tried saffron cake you'll no doubt agree it truly is delicious. Saffron cake is a well-known Cornish treat traditionally baked for a special occasion; it's a dense textured fruited cake with a rich yellow colour. It's ideal served with afternoon tea and clotted cream. It reminds me of sitting in St Ives, Cornwall, on a nippy summer's day, eating it fresh and warm, direct from a paper bag and bought straight from the traditional Cornish bakery by the harbour. Le Creuset's version is equally delicious and serves eight. Here's how to make it...
Le Creuset Saffron Cake recipe
Preparation time: 20 minutes + overnight to steep the saffron + 2 hours resting time
Cooking time: 40-50minutes
Generous pinch saffron fronds+ 100ml (1/3 cup) hot water
125ml (½ cup) warm milk
1 sachet of dried yeast (7g)
500g (1lb2 oz) plain flour + extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) soft brown sugar
375g (13oz) mixed dried fruit
55g (2oz) chopped candied peel
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Clotted cream to serve
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 one teaspoon of the sugar into the warm milk, add the yeast and leave for 3-4 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 3-4 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 3-4 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, pre-heat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4 / Fan Oven 160ºC.
8. Remove the cling film before placing into the hot oven and baking for 40-50 minutes until golden on top and well risen. If the top is becoming too brown reduce the oven temperature a little in the last 5-10 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.
Le Creuset cook’s notes
Saffron is so light it's 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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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor