New Recipe: Saffron bread recipe

Saffron bread dates back to the late 15th or early 16th century, when a savoury version of it was baked as pre-Lenten bread. Later, sugar, spices, currants and sometimes rose water were added, and it became associated with Easter in the West Country. It can be eaten fresh with clotted cream or toasted with lots of butter.

Prep time: 25 minutes, plus proving and infusing time | Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes




  • Large pinch of saffron strands
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 500g plain flour
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 170g cold butter, diced
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 170g currants
  • 85g chopped mixed peel


  1. Using a pestle and mortar or the back of a teaspoon, crush the saffron to a powder. Place in a small bowl. Pour the milk into a small pan and set over a medium heat. Bring to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and pour on to the saffron. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Once tepid, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Gently mix in and leave for 10 minutes, or until it is frothy and smells yeasty.
  2. Sift the flour, spices and ½ tsp of salt into a food processor. Add the butter and process in short bursts until it forms fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl and mix in the sugar, currants and peel. Make a well in the centre, add the milk and, using your hand, mix until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Turn out on to a clean surface. You may need a little flour. Knead until smooth. Place in a large clean bowl, cover with a large saucepan lid and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 190C/180C fan/gas mark 5. Lightly oil a 23cm spring-form tin or round cake tin with a removable base.
  5. Turn the dough out and lightly knead before shaping into a slightly flattened round. Place in the cake tin, cover with a large inverted bowl, and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, or until well risen and golden. Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack before turning out.

Recipe from ‘National Trust Book of Baking’ by Sybil Kapoor, published on 15 April (National Trust Books, £16.99).

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