Saffron tea bread

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Floral Baker: Cakes, Pastries and Breads

The Floral Baker

By Frances Bissell

Published 2014

  • About

This is based on the traditional Cornish saffron cake. The local treat is ‘thunder and lightning’ – a slice of lightly toasted saffron loaf spread with cold clotted cream, with Golden Syrup spooned on top.


  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • about 225 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup warm milk
  • 50 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1/20 g / 25 saffron threads
  • 115 g / 4 oz / 1 stick butter or ½ cup lard, or a mixture of the two
  • 450 g / 1 lb/4 cups strong, plain flour
  • 115 g / 4 oz / 1 cup seedless raisins or sultanas, soaked for 15 minutes in Earl Grey tea
  • 50–75 g/2–3 oz/½–¾ cup mixed candied peel
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rosewater


    Sprinkle the dried yeast on 4 tablespoons of the milk, together with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and let it work for 10 to 15 minutes. Soak the saffron in 2 to 3 tablespoons of boiling water. Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the sugar, fruit and mixed peel. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast, the rosewater and the saffron liquid. Combine to a dough, adding more warm milk as necessary; you may need less than the quantity stated in the recipe if you are working in humid conditions, or you may need more. Knead on a floured worktop until smooth, and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and let the dough rise for an hour or so in a draught-free place.

    Knock the dough back by punching the air out of it. Knead it briefly on a floured worktop until smooth again then shape into a loaf. Put this in a greased and floured 1 kg/2 lb loaf tin, cover again and let the dough rise for a further 30 to 40 minutes. Bake at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 in a preheated oven for 50 minutes or so. The loaf can, if you wish, be brushed with an egg and milk glaze before baking.

    Carefully remove the loaf from the tin and tap the base; it will sound hollow when the bread is cooked. Otherwise, return the loaf to the tin and bake for a few minutes more. When baked, remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.