Think saffron and the traveler in you might find yourself in Tibet admiring the rich color of Buddhist monks’ prayer robes. Perhaps your culinary thoughts take flight to savory rice dishes or fish stews graced by saffron’s glorious treasure of color and flavor.
Such wonders are produced by three tiny red threads (stigmas) from the crocus Sativus which are hand harvested before being carefully dried. It takes 75,000 crocus blossoms or 225,000 stigmas to produce a mere 1 pound of saffron. That’s 10-12 days of labor!
Ahhh…saffron – the most expensive spice in the world!
This being said, a pinch goes a long way and Oli’s recipe for Saffron Cake with Apples and Raisins is neither labor intensive nor expensive. But your guests will think you spent a fortune for what my friend Suzanne described as “the best cake she has ever eaten”. With the season of graduations, bridal showers, weddings, anniversaries and family celebrations fast upon us this saffron cake is a must on your menu. It’s quite elegant both in presentation and flavor. A rich amber color, studded with golden raisins, swirled with thinly sliced apples, and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, this is an irresistible cake with an exquisite, yet delicate flavor. Truly a cake that is fit for royalty, but costs pennies to make.
Saffron Cake with Apples and Raisins
1/3 cup (1 dl) whipping cream
1/16 teaspoon (0.5 g) saffron threads
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cups (4 dl) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 sticks or 7 oz (200 g) butter at room temperature
1 cup (3 dl) sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (2 1/2 dl ) golden raisins
1 apple, washed, cored and thinly sliced
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C
Butter a 10-inch (25 cm) cake pan with removable sides
1. In a small bowl stir together, cream, saffron and vanilla. *Allow to sit for at least an hour before using. (The longer, the better, as you want to bring out the luxurious flavor of saffron before combining it with the other cake ingredients.)
2. In a second small bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.
3. Fit a large mixing bowl to the base of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to whip butter and sugar together until frothy.
4. Keep paddle attachment connected. Break one egg into butter mixture and mix until well blended. Continue to add one egg at time and blend hard after each addition.
5. Turn mixer to slow speed and slowly add flour.
6. Pour in cream and toss in raisins. Mix until combined.
7. Spoon batter into buttered cake pan and spread evenly.
8. Decoratively press apples into top of batter leaving slices exposed so that pattern appears when baked.
9. Bake in middle of pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.
10. Cool on rack then remove sides of pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
Serve with whipped cream.