Sweet Saffron Bread

Sweet Saffron Bread

I adore Saffron, there's something just so luxurious and heady about using this spice, the delicate little scarlet tendrils emitting a lovely honeyed distinct flavour. As soon as I saw this recipe in Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf", a gorgeous book that will inspire any wannabe baker, I knew I had to make it. Or at least my version of it. He is a baker so he gives complex instructions on how to do it right from the very beginning but some are time consuming. So I've kept the essence of the loaf while tinkering with the method.

Sweet Saffron Bread

His recipe specifies 100g of currants, I used sultanas but found that 100g was way too much for the size of the loaf and that after mixing and rising, most of the sultanas were on the outside and therefore burned in the oven. Some were easy to pick off and perhaps it's the difference in method. Nevertheless I was annoyed, mostly at myself, when I took it out of the oven to see all of the sultanas burnt on the top and the loaf resembling a dark bronze rather than a light gold pictured.

Sweet Saffron Bread

But once I sliced a piece of this spongy delicious bread and slathered it with butter and my last jar of Spiced Grape Jam, I realised that all was not lost, the bread was so gorgeously soft and soaked up the liquidey jam and went so well with the mixed spice so well that I would even suggest adding a teaspoon of mixed spice into the recipe if you wish. I'm still not quite sure why the sultanas all remained on the outside, with very few on the inside. But this gorgeous spongey bread is ideal for breakfast, to soak up a honey or liquidey jam. Be warned, it's not one of those loaves that will keep well for several days, after all it has no preservatives, but even after the first day the texture changes but toasting it will help in this respect.

Sweet Saffron Bread

Sweet Saffron Bread

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  • Pinch of saffron threads

  • ¾ tsp boiling water

  • 350g strong white flour

  • 1 tablespoon instant dried yeast

  • 60g caster sugar

  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

  • 30g unsalted butter, softened and broken into small pieces

  • 150ml milk, warm

  • 50g currants

  • cornmeal, for dusting

  • 1 free-range egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk


Step 1 - Pour boiling water over saffron thread and leave to infuse for 10 minutes

Step 2 - Place flour, sugar, yeast, sugar, salt into a large bowl and mix together well. Add the butter and rub through the flour until it has completely combined with the dry ingredients to leave no lumps. Fit Dough Hook onto mixer.

Step 3 - Measure the milk into a jug and mix in the saffron infused water. Add the saffron milk to the flour mixture and set the mixer on low speed for 5 minutes. Add currants or sultanas.

OR if you don't have a dough hook fitted mixer do steps 4 and 5

Step 4 - Grease a flat clean work surface and knead the dough for ten seconds to finish with the dough in a smooth ball. Clean and dry the bowl and replace the dough ball into the bowl to rest for ten minutes.

Step 5 - Remove the dough and knead again on a greased, flat surface.

Sweet Saffron Bread

Step 6 - Shape the dough into a ball. Replace into an oiled bowl, cover with a teatowel and leave for one hour in a warm (not hot) place.

Sweet Saffron Bread

Step 7 - Place the dough onto a clean, flat surface and shape into a baton. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for ten minutes.

Sweet Saffron Bread

Step 8 - Spiral each end in upon itself to create an elaborate 'S' shape.

Step 9 - Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal and place the dough into the centre of the sheet. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for one hour, until the dough has almost doubled in height.

Sweet Saffron Bread

Step 10 - Preheat the oven to 210C/410F/Gas 6½. Uncover the loaf and brush with eggwash. Place into the centre of the oven to bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until the loaf is golden-brown in colour and sounds hollow when tapped on the under-side.

Adapted from The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard

This is also my entry for Zorra's World Bread Day event (thanks Y!). Bake a bread by October 16 and be part of it :)

Sweet Saffron Bread

Sweet Saffron Bread

Step 12 - Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve sliced and buttered with a delicious jam.

Adapted from The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard

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