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Cornish Saffron Cake Recipe

The Cornish Saffron Cake

Saffron was believed to have been first introduced to Cornwall when the Phoenicians used it to trade for tin. It is a delicacy in Cornwall akin to the Pasty and is still made in the homes of some Cornish families, although now it is more often bought from local bakers who have the recipe off to a fine art.

It can be eaten with just a little butter spread on top, or with jam and Cornish clotted cream. I must admit my preference is a plain saffron bun with a cup of tea!


1. Prepare the saffron

Boil half a cup of the milk and water mix. Cut the saffron into very fine strands with scissors. Place in a glass jug and pour the boiling milk and water over it. Cover and steep overnight.

2. The following day...

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
Grease a suitable-sized loaf tin.
Put fresh yeast into a small bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and half a cup of warm milk and water (make sure it is not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
Rub fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar.
When yeast has risen in the cup, make a pit in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast, covering with a sprinkle of flour.
When this mixture cracks and the yeast 'sponges' through, warm the previously steeped saffron mixture a little and add this to the mix, together with the mixed fruit. Combine using your hand to make a soft (but not sticky) dough (add a little more liquid at this stage, if required).
Turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise (usually about 30-45 minutes).
Put into the greased loaf tin, cover and leave to rise again until it is level with the top of the tin (about 1 hr).
Bake for 45mins to 1hr. Leave to cool on a wire rack.