Saturday, 3 April 2010

Confined to the kitchen to make bread and cakes

because the very cold weather prevented me from going in the garden, digging the potager and planting the potatoes, lettuce plants and seeds. It's Easter and maybe the Easter bunny might not come if I don't make cakes. So the jar of Safran stored in a safe place beckons for a Saffron baking day.

First of all I prepared the yeast because I also wanted to make an ordinary loaf with added sunflower seeds.
Saffron Bread - a plaited loaf and some buns
1. Soak about 10 crushed threads of saffron in 50ml hot water and leave overnight or for some time to infuse.
2. Add 1cm cube of fresh crumbled yeast to a teaspoon of sugar and some warmed milk or water (not boiling). Leave to ferment.
3. Heat 125ml milk in a saucepan. Add 125g butter and 125g sugar and remove from the heat.
4. Combine the three mixtures and beat in an egg, and a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and the grated zest from one lemon. Fold in 375g self raising flour. You might need to adjust the liquid or the flour.
5. Using your hands pull the dough together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The more kneading the better. Put the dough into a clean oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
6. Knead again. Divide the dough into portions to plait a small loaf and to make buns with what is left. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size.
7. Bake in a hot oven at 350 degrees centigrade for about an hour or until golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
8.Remove to a wire rack and cool. Eat and Enjoy.

As I have never made Saffron Cake before, I researched various recipes and adapted the ingredients and the methodology. As far as I can remember this is what I did:

1. Preheat oven to 175°C and grease a loose bottomed round cake tin.

2. Melt 120g butter in 250 ml warmed milk. Add about 10 crushed strands of saffron and leave to infuse for some time.

3. Beat two eggs with 120g caster sugar. Add the saffron liquid. Fold in 175g self raising flour. Add some orange flower water.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes. It might take longer as it depends on the depth and size of the cake tin. When cold eat and enjoy.

The delicate flavour of the Saffron buns was delicious. I cut the buns in half and served them with butter but Captain Sensible said they were good with goats cheese. I also made a Simnel Cake having soaked the fruit in cold tea overnight and I'll decorate tomorrow. There's too much for us to eat but the Simnel cake improves with age and maybe the Saffron cake will be the same. The freezer is a marvellous invention.

COUNTDOWN: 27 days

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