Showing posts with label saffron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saffron. Show all posts

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cornish Saffron Cake #BundtBakers

Cornish Saffron Cake is a traditional bake from Cornwall, made with an enriched yeast dough, flavored with saffron and sweetened with sugar. It is generally served plain or with lashing of butter or even some clotted cream.

This month my Bundt Bakers group is being hosted by Felice of All That’s Left Are The Crumbs. Her theme and in this case, challenge, was to bake a Bundt cake that uses yeast for leavening. I must confess that when I started scouring the internet for ideas, Cornish Saffron Cake came up after a simple search for yeast cakes.

“Excellent!” I exclaimed, making my furry sous chef jump to alertness, and wrote it down in my notebook. Just from the title, it sounded like a winner. I have saffron, some really good quality saffron, and I’m sure the good people of Cornwall would not have kept making Cornish Saffron Cake for all these centuries if it wasn’t good.

But here’s the rub. When it came time to bake and I actually started reading the (many!) recipes, it turns out that Cornish Saffron Cake isn’t really cake at all, but more of a sweet bread, with mixed dried fruit. The dough is traditionally baked into buns or in a loaf pan.  So, would it qualify for the challenge?

I headed back to our Facebook group to ask and saw that someone else had just asked a question about the nature of our yeasty Bundts: Could the Bundt be savory? When Felice said “sure,” (and I saw that her own recipe title was Hot Cross Bun Bundt) I knew that my sweet bready “cake” would probably be fine as well.

I ended up slightly adapting the ingredients from this recipe on Baking for Britain.

1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
1 1/4 cup or 295ml whole milk
4 cups or 500g unbleached white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup or 150g unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for baking pan
1/2 cup or 115g light muscovado sugar
1/4 oz or 7g rapid rise yeast
3/4 cup or 115g mixed dried fruit and peel

Note: Back in the old days, when sterilization was an issue, every bread recipe included the instruction to scald the milk first. I won’t go into the reasons why or explain the method because my friend, Jenni, at Pastry Chef Online has done a remarkable job with both in this Fundamental Friday post, if you are interested. But since I was going to heat the milk to infuse the saffron, I thought, might as well scald it.

Start by scalding your milk, which is to say, bringing it almost to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. (See more precise instructions in the link above.)

Liberally butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.

Put the saffron in the milk and leave to infuse for an hour or two, or even overnight, in which case, put the milk in the refrigerator after it has cooled off so it doesn't spoil.

When you are ready to bake, warm the saffron milk up again to about 110–115°F (115°F=46°C.) Put 1/4 cup or 60ml of it in a bowl and add the yeast and a tablespoon of the sugar.

When the yeast is activated and bubbling, you can add it back into the rest of the saffron milk.

Measure your flour into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and add the butter cubes. Use a pastry blender or your hands to mix the butter into the flour until it resembles sandy crumbs.

Stir in the sugar and salt.

Make a well in the middle of the flour/butter mixture and pour in the yeasty saffron milk.

Use the bread hook on your mixer – or indeed, your hands, but this is a wet sticky dough so if you have a mixer, that’s a good thing – to combine the milk and flour until you have soft dough.

Knead the dough for about five minutes with the mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Sprinkle on a little more flour, if necessary.

Add in the mixed fruit and peel and keep kneading until it’s all incorporated.

Roll your dough into a fat log and fit it into your buttered Bundt pan, overlapping the ends. Cover lightly with cling film and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

After one hour, start preheating your oven to 350°F or 180°. Once the oven has reached temperature, put the Cornish Saffron Cake into the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes, until the outside is golden and it sounds hollow when tapped. If it looks like it’s browning too quickly, you can cover the top with foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.

Cool almost completely before slicing with a serrated knife to serve. It’s perfect just ever so slightly warm so butter will melt into it.


Many thanks to Felice for this great challenge. My favorite part of these baking groups is the opportunity to explore unfamiliar cuisines and recipes to fit a theme. I’ll definitely be making Cornish Saffron Cake again. It's superb with a cup of hot coffee or tea!

Special thanks also to Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm for creating our updated link list!

Check out all the other yeasty Bundts we’ve baked for you today.

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soupe au Pistou #CookforJulia

Soupe au Pistou is a classic vegetable soup with a topping of tomato pesto from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Julia Child’s first television show was aired in February 1963, just 19 days after yours truly made my world debut.  And yet, this woman has influenced me in tangible ways.  First off, I have learned that fear of failure has no place in the kitchen.  As Julia said, “In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Even as medical professionals were saying to avoid butter and eat lower fat margarine, I held to Julia’s belief that butter was not evil.  (And we were vindicated!)  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

I have learned to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, at least on weekends.  I have learned to wing it, as if cameras were rolling, if something doesn’t go the way it should while cooking.  I have learned that we learn best by doing.  A quote from the famous fallen potato pancake episode:  “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”  Also, "every woman should have a blowtorch."  I agree, Julia, and I do!  

I have learned that a cook should never deprecate her own food.  Accept compliments graciously.  And most importantly, share.  Share food, share skills, share recipes.  Thank you, Julia Child, for doing just that.  We have been blessed by your generosity.  Long may your legacy continue!

In honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, folks worldwide are cooking her recipes and PBS, where you can still see her shows, is celebrating one of its biggest stars.  Head over to their site and check out the recipes and cook one in honor of a great lady. 

I’ve chosen a recipe from Julia’s first and most famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (mine is the 1971 edition) - a lovely summery vegetable soup finished with a sharp garlic tomato pistou that I believe honors her love of fresh produce cooked into the ultimate comfort food.   Who doesn’t feel better after a bowl of soup?

For the soup:
Good drizzle olive oil for sautéing vegetables
6 oz or 170g onions
7 oz or 200g carrots
10 oz or 280g potatoes
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
7 oz or 200g fresh green beans
14 oz or 400g can cannellini beans
1 oz or 30g spaghetti or vermicelli.  (I used tagliatelle.  Because that’s what I had.)
1 slice stale white bread
A few good grinds of fresh black pepper
Pinch of saffron

For the pistou:
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (I actually used 1 tablespoon dried oregano.  Can’t seem to find fresh basil this time of year in Egypt and because I love the fresh stuff, I’ve never bought dried basil.)
1 oz or 30g Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if desired
1/4 cup or 60ml fruity olive oil

Peel your onions and dice them finely.  Drizzle a little olive oil in pot big enough to hold at least 5-quarts or 4.75 liters.  Put your onions in to sweat over a low heat while you peel and chop your carrots and potatoes.

Peel the carrots and cut them into small squares.  Pop them in the pot with the onions and give it a good stir.  Give the pot another drizzle of olive oil, if it looks dry. 

Peel the potatoes and cut them into small squares.  Add them to the onion pot and stir briefly.

Add in three quarts or just under three liters of water.  Season with the salt or the stock powder and salt, if desired.  Cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pistou.  Put your tomato paste into a mortar with your fresh or dried herb and four cloves of garlic.  Bash it about gently until the garlic is no longer visible.

Grate your Parmesan and add it to the mortar.  Mix thoroughly. 

Add enough olive oil to loosen it up a bit – about 1/4 cup or 60ml.   Set this aside.

Top and tail your green beans and cut them into short lengths.  Crush your pasta of choice into small pieces as well.

Crumble your stale bread slice or cut it into tiny pieces with a serrated knife and rinse your cannellini beans and leave in the colander to drain.  (Sorry - forgot to take a photo of the bread!)

When you are about 20 minutes from serving, add the green beans, cannellini beans and pasta to the pot.   Give it a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the bread and stir.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  The bread will disintegrate and thicken the broth deliciously.  If it is too thick for your taste, add a little more water. 

Season with black pepper and the pinch of saffron.

Remove some of the broth with a ladle or measuring cup and add it into the tomato pistou.   Stir to loosen. 

Some green beans slipped in.  Not a big deal.  Just try to mix without mashing them. 

Reserve two or three teaspoons of pistou (for garnish when serving) and stir the rest of it into the soup.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary.  The Parmesan may have added enough, but it is a good idea to check before serving.

Serve each bowl topped with a reserved 1/2 teaspoon of pistou and some extra grated Parmesan, if desired.   (At our house, extra Parmesan is compulsory.)

Enjoy!  Now give this a try or go to the PBS site and choose yourself a Julia recipe!  Or at the very least, open a bottle of wine and raise a toast.  To Julia!

You might be interested in these other Julia Child recipes I have made:

Rustic Potato Bread - because there is nothing more divine that the smell of bread baking and you can't beat this potato bread for a soft crumb and crunchy crust.  No bread pan required!

and Coq au Vin with Cornish Game Hens - Julia's classic French dish with little birds

and Cherry Clafoutis - Once again, a classic French dessert.  Cherries in a eggy batter, baked to fluffy perfection.