Gladys Thomas' saffron cake
Traditional saffron cake is more of a rich, spiced bread than a cake. Aunt's recipe used lard, for which I have substituted butter, which is marginally better for one's arteries.
Photo: Lucy Malouf
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- A generous teaspoon saffron strands
- 300ml hot milk
- 500g unbleached white bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 150g unsalted butter, diced
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
- 60g currants
- 40g mixed dried fruit
- 1 tbsp plain flour for dusting
Stir the saffron strands into the hot milk and leave to infuse overnight
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips to form fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar evenly. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Reheat the milk to body temperature. Combine a few table- spoons of the milk with the yeast and mix to a slurry. Stir in the remaining warm milk then tip all the liquid into the dry ingredients.
Use your hands to work the mixture to a dough, then tip out on to a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Toss the dried fruit with the flour, which helps prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking. Add the fruit to the dough in two stages, kneading the mix well after each addition.
Grease a loaf tin with butter. Add the dough to the tin and leave in a warm place until the dough rises. Depending on ambient temperature, this will take one to two hours.
Heat the oven to 180C. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. The base of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Allow the cake to rest for an hour before slicing and serving with butter or clotted cream and home- made jam. I think it's even better toasted the next day.
Makes 1 loaf