Cornish saffron cake

Cornish saffron cake.
Cornish saffron cake. Photo: Marina Oliphant

This is delicious served with butter while still warm from the oven. It keeps quite well and can be lightly toasted. I have also had success with dried yeast, but if you can, buy some fresh yeast from a baker and appreciate the difference in flavour.


1/2 tsp saffron threads

150ml milk plus a few tablespoons extra

25g fresh yeast

450g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

60g castor sugar

half a nutmeg, grated

1/2 tsp cinnamon

120g unsalted butter, taken out of the fridge half an hour before use

100g currants

2 tbsp castor sugar, for glaze


Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Put the saffron threads onto a non-stick tray and in the oven to roast for no more than 5 minutes.

In a pot or microwave, heat the milk so that it is lukewarm. Crush the saffron threads between your fingers and sprinkle into a cup. Add 2 tablespoons of the warm milk and set aside to infuse.

Crumble the fresh yeast into a small bowl, add a pinch of sugar and the warm milk. Whisk with a fork until combined. Cover and place in a warm, draught-free place for 20 minutes or until a light froth has formed on top. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and spices and rub in the finely chopped butter until it resembles course crumbs. Make a well and pour in the yeast and saffron liquid.

Knead gently until smooth and forming a ball.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise again in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours - or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Add the currants to the dough and knead together on a floured surface until combined. Shape into a loaf and put into a well-greased loaf tin. Cover and rise again for half an hour before baking for about 35 minutes or until golden brown on top (check it at 30 minutes).

Mix together 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 tablespoons castor sugar and while loaf is still warm, brush with mixture.

Leave to cool a little before turning out.