Saffron Sultana Cake

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Preparation info

    Appears in

    Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

    Food of the Sun

    By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

    Published 1995

    • About

    The glowing gold of the saffron makes this sponge visually appealing, while the brandy-plumped sultanas give a sophisticated flavour. The sponge is baked as a shallow cake, from which fingers are cut to serve with a fresh fruit salad of seedless grapes, oranges and grapefruit. It is also excellent for tea and can be baked as one would a Victoria sponge. If so, increase cooking time to 20-25 minutes.


    • 55 g/2 oz unsalted butter, chilled
    • 125 g/ oz plain flour, plus more for dusting
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 tsp saffron powder
    • 55 g/2 oz brandy-marinated sultanas
    • 4 eggs
    • 125 g/4 oz caster sugar



    Dice the chilled butter. Do not return to the refrigerator. Sift the flour with the pinch of salt and the saffron powder.

    Put some water in saucepan of a size that will allow a large heatproof mixing bowl to sit on top of it. Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer.

    Drain the sultanas and toss in plain flour to coat evenly and reserve.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas4. Line a 30 x 20 x 5 cm/12 x 8 x 2 in Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper.

    Using an electric hand-held beater, whisk the eggs and sugar in the mixing bowl. Then place this over the saucepan of barely simmering water and continue to whisk for 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and drops from the whisk in ribbons.

    Add about one-third of the flour and fold in with a spatula. Then fold in one-third of the diced butter. Repeat this two-stage process three times, alternating flour then butter, stirring and folding until you have a smooth mass with the butter completely incorporated.

    Finally fold in the sultanas and pour the batter into the lined Swiss roll tin.


    Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven, put the tin on a wire cake rack and leave to cool for a few minutes. Then turn the sponge out on the rack. Pull off the baking paper and do not cut the sponge until completely cold.


    Serve as fingers, with the fruit salad of your choice.

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