Cornish Saffron Loaf
It is thought that saffron may well have arrived in Britain with the Romans. After all, the Romans had been trading saffron with the Phoenicians for centuries. However, it wasn't until the beginning of the 14th century that the Cornish started trading their tin for saffron, brought in from the Mediterranean by the Spanish. The area around Bude in Cornwall, on the southern-west tip of England, was ideal for growing the saffron corm.
In time, growing saffron spread to Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Chipping Walden even changed its name to Saffron Walden in the 1540s.
It remains a terribly expensive addition to cookery as it takes over 200 flowers to produce one single gram of dried saffron.
Cornish Saffron Bread is as Cornish as Cornish cream teas, Cornish Yarg cheese, Cornish pasties, Cornish ice-cream and Stargazy pie!
Let's make some....
For TWO x 2lb loaf tins
300 gms skimmed or whole milk
400 gms strong white bread flour
50 gms ground almonds
50 gms caster sugar
75 gms softened unsalted butter
50 gms currants
50 gms sultanas
½ teaspoon or 0.71 gms saffron strands
25 gms fresh yeast or 10 gms of dried yeast or 7 gms of active instant yeast
½ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ crushed sea salt
for the glaze
30 gms milk
15 gms caster sugar
1. Infuse the saffron in 150 gms of near boiling milk for 30 minutes.
2. Warm the remaining milk to lukewarm.
3. If using fresh yeast or dried yeast, crumble the yeast into the milk, add 50 gms of flour and stir - leave for 15 minutes to ferment. If using instant yeast, miss this stage and add the yeast at Stage 5.
4. Into a large bowl, add the flour, ground almonds, spices, sugar and salt.
5. Add the saffron infusion, yeast and softened butter and mix to a very soft dough.
6. Tut the dough out onto a lightly-floured worktop and knead until smooth and silky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in volume.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured board, knock back and knead in the currants and sultanas.
8. Weigh and divide into two. Shape to fit the tins and place in the prepared loaf tins.
9. Cover and leave in the warm place for about 90 minutes or until the dough reaches the top of the tins.
10. Preheat the oven and the baking pots to 220⁰C.
11. Heat the milk and the sugar together to make a glaze.
12. Bake the loaves at 220⁰C for ten minutes and then reduce the heat to 190⁰C and continue to bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.
13. Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with the glaze. After five minutes, remove from the tins and cool on a rack.