Baking / Free from / vegetarian

Celebrating Slow Food: Cornish saffron buns


Pinch punch first second of the month! Hooray, June is here and that means long days and holidays, Wimbledon, Pimm’s and the whole lazy summer stretching ahead of us. And if we’re really lucky, some sunshine too. 1 to 9 June is also Slow Food Week hosted by Slow Food, a grassroots movement that aims to link “the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment”. Sounds pretty good to me.

1.  It’s about stopping and thinking before we eat.

2.  It’s about saying no to ready meals and yes to sustainability by sourcing seasonal ingredients from local producers.

3.  And it’s about remembering foods that have been forgotten (see the full endangered list here); foods that need to be eaten and enjoyed to preserve our country’s “edible biodiversity”.


As soon as I read this, I knew there was cause for cake. Cornish saffron cake to be precise (it’s on the forgotten foods list, promise). I couldn’t find a recipe to my satisfaction on the internet so I signed up to my local library (my mum and grandad will be very proud of me) and dug out a corker of a recipe from The Bread Bible. I hope that some of you will try this cake for yourselves and help to ensure that it’s never forgotten.

I have to say, this hasn’t been an entirely selfless task as I now have a batch of pillowy soft, sunshine yellow, spiced brioche-style buns dotted with juicy currants in my kitchen – yum!


These buns are traditionally served with clotted cream but you could eat them plain or with butter and jam if you’re feeling modern. We are eating ours with some homemade rhubarb and apple jam that we bought in Cornwall last week – heretical maybe but at least it’s Cornish!

Cornish saffron buns

Makes 12 buns


For the buns:

– 300ml milk
– 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
– 400g white bread flour
– 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
– 50g ground almonds
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 50g caster sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 75g butter, softened and cubed
– 100g currants

For the glaze:

– 3 tablespoons milk
– 1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar



Heat half the milk until almost boiling and then pour over the saffron threads. Stir gently and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.

Heat the remaining milk until it is luke warm (too hot and your yeast will perish!).

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast, almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, salt and butter. Pour in the saffron milk and the warmed milk and mix until the ingredients come together in a ball. Knead (either with your hands on a floured work surface for about 5 minutes or with the dough hook attachment of your food mixer for about 3 minutes) until the dough is soft and elastic.

Place into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for about an hour or until it has roughly doubled in size.

Knock back the dough and knead in the currants, ensuring that they are more-or-less evenly distributed. Divide into 12 buns and place on a greased baking tray. Tip: To ensure that the buns rise with even domes, tuck the seams under the base of the bun.


Cover with clingfilm again and leave to prove in a warm place for another 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C.


Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.


To make the glaze, heat the milk and sugar on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the buns with the glaze whilst they are still hot and leave to cool on a wire rack.


Please don’t forget me!

Source: Recipe adapted from The Bread Bible; photos by pip & little blue.


2 thoughts on “Celebrating Slow Food: Cornish saffron buns

  1. Thanks for sharing this – its worrying to see the likes to Yorhshire Forced Rhubarb on there. At one point there were loads of forcing sheds but there’s probably less than a handful now. I think we’re losing a lot of our regional foods. It’s great to be able to eat stuff from around the world but we need to preserve our food heritage as well.

    • I absolutely agree. I think a major difficulty is overcoming one of the idiosyncrasies of globalisation: the fact that it is often cheaper to buy produce from the other side of the world than from our own country. It is so important to teach people that a long-term attitude is necessary in order to protect our environment and our communities. *Sigh!*

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