Today’s recipe is my favourite way of using saffron in baking. It is one that I usually bake for a special Sunday treat or when I want to take homebaked presents to my friends.
The reason why this recipe for saffron buns is so special is because saffron threads delicately flavour the dough and add a beautiful golden colour. This recipe also uses a fair amount of butter, which together with the saffron and raisins makes the most amazingly tasting buns ever!
The saffron spice
Saffron can be a little pricey, but I think it’s worth it because you can’t recreate the flavour with anything else.
Saffron is so precious because it’s harvested by hand from the flower of Crocus sativus, which is also called “saffron crocus”. The main harvest is in the autumn, when the stems are carefully collected, dried and stored.
Saffron costs more per kilo than gold because you need more than 80,000 crocus flowers to produce about 1/2 kilo of dried saffron spice.
Saffron is mainly used in cooking or baking, but it also used in medicine.
Saffron spice has a very subtle flavour and aroma, it’s like a floral, light honey flavour. Saffron is often used in cooking to infuse other ingredients with flavour and colour, lending a lovely golden colour to rice dishes, cakes or sweet enriched breads.
How to prepare your saffron infusion
Saffron is far too precious to just add to your dough mixture. To get the most flavour and colour from your saffron strands, you need to infuse them in water first.
It’s best to do this step the night before you want to bake your saffron buns, as the flavour develops with time.
Place about 1 teaspoon of saffron strands into a heatproof bowl and add about 3 tablespoons of freshly boiled water. Stir gently, cover and leave for a minimum of 1 hr but longer if you can. Use as directed in my recipe below.
This saffron & currant buns recipe is great for beginners and it’s an easy one to follow. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with beautifully golden saffron buns, which taste delicious on their own or with butter and strawberry jam.
Hope you enjoy baking this recipe & let me know how you get on in the comments below!
Saffron & Raisins Buns
- 1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
- 320 ml warm milk
- 70 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp saffron strands (about 40 strands) infused in 3 tablespoons of water) See the instructions on how to infuse your saffron spice above
- 120 g butter salted or unsalted with a pinch of salt
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 150 g seedless raisins or sultanas
- First of all, work the butter into the strong bread flour with your fingers and then stir in the sugar and seedless raisins.
- Add a pinch of salt, if using unsalted butter. Add the yeast, milk and the saffron liquid.
- Carefully mix into a dough and turn on to an oiled kitchen work surface.
- Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and then place in a lightly oiled plastic bowl. Cover with tea -towel or a plastic bag and let the dough rise for an hour or until it doubles in size.
- Gently deflate the dough, divide into about 12 pieces and shape into buns by rolling them one by one under your hand.
- Put the buns in your baking tray, cover with a plastic bag or something similar and let them rise for a further 30 minutes.
- Brush them lightly with milk before placing in the oven.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Check that they are done with a wooden skewer or tap on the bottom of the buns. They should sound hollow, and their colour should be lightly brown/golden.