Cornish Saffron Bread

Posted 24 November 2010 by

Like most people, saffron is not exactly an everyday ingredient for me. I came across a half-used packet of saffron in the cupboard with a use-by date of, well, a little while ago. I’m not about to discard such a luxury item, so I had to use it somehow. I bought it in the first place (years ago) to make this bread. I remember it worked out quite well, so thought I’d have another go. This recipe is from Country Bread by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake. Their recipe calls for dried fruit, which I believe is traditional, but my version is non-fruity.

A loaf of Cornish saffron bread, with one slice cut

Here are the ingredients (makes one large loaf):

  • 1/2 tsp saffron strands
  • 300 ml hot milk
  • 500 g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 g unsalted butter, diced
  • 50 g light brown sugar
  • yeast (I used 7 g dried yeast)

Add the saffron to the hot milk and infuse it overnight (an hour or so would probably be fine.)

Strands of saffron infusing in hot milk

The next day, mix the flour and salt and add the butter. Rub it in until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs.

Mix in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Meanwhile, I warm up the saffron-infused milk so that it is hot, but not too hot to dip your finger in. Add the dried yeast and leave it for about 10 minutes to get frothy.

Pour it into the well in the dry ingredients and mix it all together until it forms a sticky dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes (by hand; shorter if by machine) until it is smooth and elastic.

Placed the dough in a greased loaf tin and leave it to rise. As usual, it was a cold day, so for me, this took a few hours.

Once it has risen, bake it at 180° C (about 350° F) for about 45 minutes.

Something actually went a bit wrong here. I was messing with timer buttons on the oven and somehow knocked the temperature up to 210° C! Luckily, thanks to my assistant noticing, I got it out early and the loaf just ended up a bit darker than expected, and the crust was probably a bit crispier. The inside was fine though.

This is a really nice loaf. The saffron flavour wasn’t as strong as I remembered from last time, but that’s probably because it was out of date. It is a slightly unusual flavour if you’re not used to it, but strangely, even though I think I’ve only had saffron twice in my life, the loaf had a really comforting, familiar taste to it.It’s quite sweet, but not as sweet as banana bread or anything. it’s definitely got a bread texture rather than a cakey texture. Obviously the dried fruit would add another dimension for those who like that kind of thing, but I think it works fine without. A bit nearer Christmas I think I’ll try Swedish saffron cake.

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