Wandsworth Saffron Cake

Saffron cake

Thank goodness the glitter fairy visited

I had such a clear vision for this bake.  My boyfriend and I were going to my cousins’ for a couple of days, and I wanted to bake something as a taking gift.  My youngest cousin happens to be a brownie wizard, so anything along those lines was definitely off-limits.

I have also been trying to decide on a recipe to incorporate some saffron which my brother gave me.  On my Google travels I came across Cornish Saffron Cake – a strikingly yellow sort of tea loaf, studded with currants and candied peel.  If I wasn’t convinced by that point, then they definitely had me at “serve warm with a dollop of clotted cream”.

Given that we were visiting at Easter weekend, I thought I could also add some cinnamon and make a kind of luminous-hot-cross-bun-loaf.  What could possibly go wrong?!

How it was to make: 

  • The kneading wasn’t actually too bad.  By the end of 5 minutes I had really had enough, but given that it only needed the one stage (as opposed to multiple kneads/knock backs like bread), I could handle that.
  • I’m not sure if my milk mixture was warm enough to activate the yeast properly by the time I added it to the dough mix.
  • It didn’t really rise.  At all.

How it came out: 

Not the canary yellow I was hoping for!

Not the canary yellow I was hoping for!

  • See above re lack of rising.  Did I use too little yeast?  Or was the milk too cold?  Whatever happened, this did not do what I thought it would.
  • Crushingly, in spite of using what must have been several pounds worth of saffron, the loaf was not the same glorious, sunny yellow as all the pictures promised.  Perhaps that is only what it looks like in Cornwall, and my more muted version was a reflection of the haze/smog in Wandsworth (and not my baking skills).
  • It’s hard to convey this properly without having experienced it first hand.  When I put the cake down on the side to cut it, it sounded like a heavy stone.  My boyfriend likened slicing through it to sawing wood.  It also wasn’t cooked through, in spite of baking for well over an hour.
  • There was good news though!  Once sliced, toasted and buttered, it didn’t taste half bad!  Or maybe I just really love butter.

    Mmm... butter...

    Mmm… butter…

THE REAL PROBLEM: this is embarrassing.  I lovingly baked the cake in the morning, and wrapped it in a tea towel in its baking tin to transport it.  We had been driving for about an hour and a half when I suddenly screamed, “The cake!!!”.  Yes, I had left it at home.  Stupid sieve-brain!  So we turned up empty handed, leaving an unsupervised carb-fiend cat at home with the precious loaf.  Baking therapy FAIL!!

Personal Progress: 

  • Baking lessons learnt: 
    • Liquid needs to be the right temperature to activate yeast.
    • I don’t know what I’ve learnt about why it wasn’t yellow – perhaps the saffron wasn’t left to infuse for long enough?  Please leave a comment if you know what I did wrong!
  • Physical progress:
    • Before leaving the cake at home was funny, I was pretty upset and angry.  So although physically this all went fine, mentally I am still fairly scatty.  This is particularly frustrating as I am usually super organised.

If you want to have a go:

Saffron Cake – James Martin

This bake, I have been mostly listening to:

Mellow Yellow – Joan Thiele

I don’t think this needs much explanation!  A gorgeous cover of the Donovan classic by Joan Thiele and Valerio Carboni.

Caroline Crimson x

6 thoughts on “Wandsworth Saffron Cake

  1. Poor Caro – tricky bugger your yeast. I make bread every week using the same recipe, the same sourdough starter, same utensils and every loaf is different. Also think that turmeric or similar yellow colouring is added to some saffron cakes to get that enhanced colour.
    If it tasted good when toasted may be leaving it at home was subliminal and not you getting scatty, so really you are normal like the rest of us!

    Take care sweetheart. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your words of wisdom ☺️ That does make sense that the brighter yellow could be cheated… The milk bit was very yellow! I think that the subliminal part is charitable – the general consensus was I was lucky to have left it at home, but for a less positive reason! x


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