Saffron is one of those spices that evokes memories for me. Growing up in the suburbs of Perth, my mother used to add a pinch of saffron powder to the rice that accompanied the curries we ate regularly. Also on the table was a bowl of cucumber slices in yoghurt, bananas in lemon juice and coconut, and, of course, a jar of Sharwood’s mango chutney. In an era before eating out became a regular occurrence, it tasted like the height of exotic dining.
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UPDATED 9:31 AM - 6 Sep 2013

I don’t use ground saffron now, preferring instead the tiny threads that are actually the stigmas of the crocus – with their signature aroma and intense orange-yellow hue, it’s a spice worth having in your pantry. In this case, I used it in Matthew Evans saffron-spiced apple teacake, and, unusually for me, I was organised enough to soak the threads in milk overnight as instructed, resulting in a small glass of bright yellow milk. The cake itself is an easy one and I took great delight in studding the golden batter with apple slices – it almost seems like too many, but it’s actually just the right amount – before topping it with brown sugar and cinnamon.

For once, my oven temperature seemed to be spot on and the cake was done right on time – risen and caramelised on top. It was hard to resist pulling a piece of apple out immediately, but I managed.

For me, cake is the perfect hostess gift – easy to transport and can be eaten on the day or set aside for later – and this saffron apple cake will be going on my list of go-to cakes.

What’s your favourite cake to bake for others?

Editor, SBS Feast