This bread is flavoured with saffron, which benefits from an overnight soak. Make sure to remove all the saffron from the soaking dish, and use a spatula to get out all the cream from the pan, or you’ll lose flavour. The bread takes a while to rise, as it’s heavy from the butter and cream, hence 2 packets of yeast. If you live in a very warm climate, try using one packet. The bread takes 6 hours to prove, so don’t start too late as it has to be baked the same day. It’s best eaten the same day, or toasted the next.
generous pinch of saffron threads
2 sachets (14 g) dry yeast
2 tbs honey
250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
1 fresh bay leaf
4 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
500 g (3 cups) bread flour (see Note), sifted
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
100 g (½ cup) caster sugar
100 g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature, plus extra, to serve
100 g mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, dates)
300 g blanched slivered almonds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soak saffron in 1 tbs hot water, overnight if possible. (If you’re in a hurry, soak for as long as you can, then add saffron and soaking liquid to the cream mixture in step 4.)
Grease a deep 20cm cake pan or large loaf pan and line with baking paper so it forms a 5cm-high collar around the pan to allow the bread to rise.
Combine yeast, honey and 60 ml water in a bowl and set aside in a warm, draught-free place until bubbles form.
Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat with bay leaf, cloves and peppercorns. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and steep for a further 20 minutes. Strain.
Combine flour, ½ tsp salt, orange and lemon zests and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add cream mixture, yeast mixture and saffron with its soaking liquid. Stir until mixture comes together.
Transfer mixture to an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes or until dough becomes stretchy and can be pulled until almost a thin sheet.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 3 hours or until doubled in size.
Knead in the butter gradually until smooth. (The dough will get sticky before coming back together again, so don’t give up.) If using an electric mixer, add all the butter at once. When it’s a neat ball of dough again, knead in the fruit and almonds until combined.
Place dough in prepared pan, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 3 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 160C. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean; take care not to brown the outside too much.
Remove bread from oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with butter.
Bread flour (also known as baker’s flour) has a higher gluten content than regular flour, which gives the dough its elasticity and chewy texture. It is from selected supermarkets.