Saffron Cake Recipe

Saffron_cake2_1

Michelle Krell Kydd ended her article Saffron : The Flavor and Fragrance of Joy with the promise of sharing the recipe for saffron cake. Although saffron lends itself to many preparations, both sweet and savory, I find that the nutty warmth of whole wheat and the piney freshness of cardamom are the perfect backdrops for the full range of saffron’s flavor. In Indian and Middle Eastern desserts, saffron is often paired with cardamom, rose and the velvety richness of milk. Whispers of this classical composition can be noticed in this quick-bread. It combines the lightness of the crumb with the delicately chewy texture of the toasted crust. The voluptuous flavor of saffron lingers beautifully, attesting to the perfect name for this cake—Saffron Kiss.…

The cake is quite easy to put together, as it does not require any special equipment or long mixing. The aroma in the kitchen while the cake is baking is reason enough to make it. Although Saffron Kiss is delicious straight out of the oven, it is simply incomparable the next morning, slathered with some sweet cream butter and toasted. Add a layer of fruit jam, make a cup of tea, and voilà—a perfect breakfast!

Saffron Kiss Cake (Gâteau Baiser De Safran) Recipe

Ingredients
Makes two cakes, but you can easily halve the recipe

4 cups (560 g) whole grain pastry flour
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
½- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds (depending on your love for this spice)
½ teaspoon saffron infused for 10 minutes with 2 tablespoons of warm water*
1 tablespoon of pure almond extract
1 ½ tablespoon rose water**
5 ounces (140 g) golden raisins
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) low-fat, unsalted buttermilk
1/2 cup (250 ml) grapeseed oil
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 loaf pans. You can certainly use round cake pans, but in that case, you would have to adjust the baking time accordingly.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and then add cardamom and flaxseed meal to the dry mixture.

In another bowl, mix egg whites, rosewater and almond extract until incorporated.

In a separate container mix buttermilk and the saffron infusion, including stigmas.  Add grapeseed oil to the buttermilk mixture and mix well. Combine the oil mixture with the rose and almond scented egg whites. Add raisins.

Make a well in the bowl containing the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, gently folding until everything is mixed.

Fill two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 loaf pans and bake for approximately 50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Try not to overbake, since the crumb is likely to be too chewy. Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Michelle’s Notes:
“The recipe for success in any baking venture is fresh ingredients and great preparation. I find the scant raisins to act like a note in fine fragrance; you taste the cake and then you get a raisin surprise that is lemony and sweet against the seductive musky saffron. I cannot forget the important ingredient of buttermilk as it adds flavor to the cake and texture to the crumb.

Saffron Kiss Cake is made with healthy ingredients and although it does not taste like it is diet material, it is extremely good for you. Grapeseed oil has high Vitamin E and linoleic acid content and since it is a byproduct of winemaking, it also contains valuable antioxidants (known as proanthocyninidins). Grapeseed oil is fantastic for sautéing because it has a high flashpoint, which means it does not burn as quickly as other oils. In addition, grapeseed oil has a long shelf life and unlike other oils, can be refrigerated without turning cloudy. Last, but not least, flaxseed is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Ingredient Notes:
*Michelle introduced me to Iranian Sargol from Vanilla, Saffron Imports. Few other saffrons I have tried combine the depth of fragrance—leathery, musky, with a unique floral dimension—with the rich color and gorgeous flavor.  Update: I recently switched to Penzey’s Kashmiri saffron, and I am not looking back. It is by far the best saffron available.
**Rosewater is available from any Indian or Middle Eastern store. I highly recommend the Lebanese brand Mymoune for a fresh, true rose flavor and fragrance. You can find it online at Kalustyan’s.

Photo © Bois de Jasmin. Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd, used with permission.

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22 Comments

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    I am stricken with the flu aka “la grippe”. I have seen better days & and nights ) .. However just the sight of this beautiful saffron cake was enough to lift my wilted spirits ! I am motivated to run out, buy the ingredients and bake this magnificent creation. I love the photo you attached with the roses.. as usual it is , in itself. a work of art. I look forward to Fridays not only to herald the end of a long work-week – but to usher in a week-end of culinary inspiration.
    Madelyn E January 26, 2007 at 3:29am Reply

  • newproducts: My mouth is watering just reading this recipe and looking at that exquisite picture! January 26, 2007 at 8:32am Reply

  • Elle: This was worth the wait. Sounds absolutely delicious. I shall have to go to my SIL’s this weekend to make it (my own oven is still filled w/ art supplies and books, which I may eventually have to remove due to your wonderful Friday posts). January 26, 2007 at 8:59am Reply

  • Marina: Slyunki tekut…:-) January 26, 2007 at 9:10am Reply

  • Cynthia K: Michelle’s recipe looks wonderful and your photo truly convinced me to try making it. The cake looks so moist, so soft! I am salivating. January 26, 2007 at 12:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, thank you very much! As I was testing Michelle’s recipe, I found myself craving saffron more and more. It is a very luscious cake (quick-bread really), which takes hardly any time to put together. I have never baked with whole grain pastry flour before, but it is such a great ingredient. The nutty edge is very special. I plan on adding some to the crust of my chocolate and caramelized banana tart. January 26, 2007 at 12:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: N, it is quite mouthwatering. I love it for breakfast, but it is perfect any time of the day. January 26, 2007 at 1:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, please let us know how it turns out if you do make it. A new oven is my dream. Mine is just too small. January 26, 2007 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Peter: Wow, what a beautiful photo! January 26, 2007 at 1:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, eto xoroshyj znak, a good sign. 🙂 January 26, 2007 at 1:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cynthia, Michelle wrote such a beautiful piece on saffron that I am inspired to cook more with saffron. Her recipe is lovely. January 26, 2007 at 1:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Peter, I am glad that you liked it! I am having fun with the food photography. January 26, 2007 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Robin: Have you considered selling the cakes online? You know I’m NEVER going to actually bake one 🙂 January 26, 2007 at 1:45pm Reply

  • assorted raisins: This cake sounds delicious! I also love cardamon and saffron. How much will it affect the cake if it’s baked with an oil like canola instead of grapeseed? Will it be too heavy? January 26, 2007 at 2:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, no, that idea has never entered my mind. However, I saw foodblogs doing draws in exchange for charity donations and sending homebaked cookies or other non-perishable items to the winners. I think that it is a good idea. January 26, 2007 at 2:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Assorted raisins, I made the cake with canola oil once, because I ran out of grapeseed, and the texture was very good, not at all heavy or dense. The most important thing is that the oil is neutral tasting. Overall, I find the recipe to be very forgiving and not at all fussy. I even made the cake with whole milk yogurt, and it turned out beautifully. January 26, 2007 at 2:36pm Reply

  • Laura: Oh my! I’m adding this to my Victoria’s Recipes stash! You are so amazingly multi-talented. January 26, 2007 at 5:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear L, lovely to see you here again! I’ve enjoyed the portraits you have been doing lately, and I have your drawing of my aunt printed out and pinned above my desk.

    P.S. It is the recipe by Michelle, a part of her two feature Saffron article. All credit goes to her. 🙂 January 26, 2007 at 5:43pm Reply

  • Cynthia K: So, wait, I thought that it was Victoria who wrote the article and took the photo. Sorry for my confusion. Lovely work, Michelle! January 27, 2007 at 10:13am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, no, you were right. Michelle kindly shared her recipe with me, but I wrote the article and took the photo. Please let me know how the cake turns out. The aroma of saffron is just so amazing! January 27, 2007 at 10:43am Reply

  • Bela: This cake sounds and looks so beautiful! I can’t have wheat, unfortunately, so I’ll have to be content with dreaming about it. 🙂 January 28, 2007 at 7:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, if I find a recipe of some light, flourless cake, I will be sure to pass it to you. Do you eat almonds? January 29, 2007 at 12:12pm Reply

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