Cornish Recipes > Saffron Cake

How to make saffron cake:

This is also a well known delicacy in Cornwall. Saffron is usually sold in drachms (one eighth of an ounce) and 1/2 drachms (one sixteenth of an ounce) and is very expensive, hence the old Cornish saying "as dear as saffron". It is believed that the Phoenicians brought saffron over with them when they came to trade for tin. As far as I know Cornwall is one of the only places where saffron is used in this way.


1lb plain flour
6oz butter, margarine or lard
6oz sugar
6oz currants, sultanas
1 1/2 oz of mixed, diced, candied peel (lemon or orange)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1oz yeast or 1 sachet of dried yeast
1 drachm saffron
warm milk and water to mix
(see measure conversions for more information)


Overnight put saffron to infuse by snipping the strands and cover with half a cup of boiling water and a small pinch of salt. Cover with a saucer. Put yeast into cup with a teaspoon of sugar and add half a cup of warm milk and water - not too hot but more than tepid so as not to kill the yeast. Rub fat into the flour then add sugar and mix together. When the yeast has risen in the cup, make a pit in the centre of the flour and sugar mix and pour in the yeast, covering with a sprinkle of flour (this keeps the temperature constant). When this cracks and the yeast sponges through, warm the previously steeped saffron mixture a little and add together with fruit and peel and start combining all the ingredients together adding extra liquid as you go until the whole thing makes a soft dough without being too sticky. Cover this with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm (not too hot) place to rise. This takes between 30-45 minutes. Put into greased loaf tins, cover and leave to rise again until the mixture is level with the top of the tin. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees centigrade) for 3/4 - 1 hour. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

I hope you will enjoy making this old Cornish favourite.
Until next time,

Gans oll an colon vy,