Saffron is said to have landed in Sweden during the 1300s, thanks to trade with Asia. Its consumption was reserved for feasts and holidays, when it appeared in sweet cakes, breads and buns. Yeasted saffron cakes are still popular in the region, particularly on December 13th, when Saint Lucia's Day is celebrated. This cake, either the whole or in part, freezes well.
- 100 g (⅔ cup) golden raisins, coarsely chopped
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) boiling water
- 125 ml (½ cup) milk, heated to body temperature
- 3 tsp instant dried yeast
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 600 g (4 cups) plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 125 g softened butter
- icing sugar, for dusting
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.
Rising time 3 hours
Pour 80 ml (⅓ cup) boiling water over the raisins and saffron in a bowl then stand until the water is tepid, about 5 minutes. Reserving the liquid, drain the raisins well, pressing on them with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. Set the raisins aside.
Combine the raisin liquid and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle over the yeast, whisk together, then stand for 5-10 minutes or until foamy. Add the eggs and sugar and beat with a paddle attachment to mix well.
Add 450 g (3 cups) of the flour and the salt to the bowl and beat slowly for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and combined well. With the machine running on medium-low speed, add the butter, a heaped tablespoon at a time and beat until it is incorporated. Add the remaining flour and reserved raisins and beat for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and very elastic.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then stand in a draught-free place for 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in bulk. Grease and flour a 22 cm, 2.5 litre (10 cup) capacity Kugelhopf tin. Stir the dough to knock it back then pour it into the tin, smoothing the surface with lightly buttered hands. Cover the tin loosely with a slightly damp tea towel then stand in a draught free place for 1 hour or until the dough has risen to the top of the tin. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170ºC.
Once it has risen, bake the saffron cake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester withdraws clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.