I had thought I would follow a traditional Cornish saffron bread recipe but the ones I found were quite high in fat and my preference is to have a lower fat bun spread with a nice layer of sweet butter.
Have you noticed just how yellow the saffron buns sold in shops can be. I have my doubts how much of that colour comes from the saffron itself. You do not need a lot of this spice to add a good flavour. My buns were quite pale but did have good flavour, perhaps I am doing something wrong regarding the colour?
I recently started on a mission for the perfect bun recipe and this is my stage two attempt whereby I up the recipe a little to include milk rather than water. Apart from the replacement of the mixed spice with saffron the base recipe is the same. I think the addition of the milk did produce a slightly softer crumb but not cakey, which is good.
500g strong bread flour
1 level tsp fine sea salt
10g fresh yeast
50g caster sugar
20g milk powder
100g dried fruit
250-300 ml warm water
large pinch of saffron strands
The saffron was crushed with a pestle & mortar and then infused in 50ml of the warm water for a few minutes. I might have achieved a stronger colour if I had let the saffron infuse longer.
The salt, yeast, butter, sugar and milk powder were rubbed into the flour.
The saffron infusion and about 200ml of warm water were then added to the flour mix along with the dried fruits.
The mix is gradually brought together by hand, or using a dough scaper, adding more water if needed, in order to end with a soft but not wet dough. As the dough is kneaded it becomes firmer and silky so do not start too dry or the dough will be too tight.
The dough is kneaded for a good 10 minutes and try hard to keep the dried fruit in the dough but some will inevitably flick out all over the counter and floor.
Form the dough into a ball and put back in the bowl. I usually encase the whole bowl in a plastic peddle bin liner kept just for this purpose. If you make a loose parcel around the bowl it will keep the dough moist while it is rising:
Once the dough has just about doubled in size it is ready to be shaped.
I turned the dough out onto the counter top and gave it a light knead to remove large air bubbles.
I then weighed out approx 75g pieces of dough and then placed them on a lined baking tray to have a further rise.
My oven has a 40C setting and I often use this for the final rise. I prewarm the oven, with a damp dish cloth inside, to 40C. I then place the tray of shaped buns in the oven and turn it off. This usually gives just the right amount of heat and moisture to rise the buns. The buns should almost double in size.
Before baking I brushed the buns with an eggwash but this is optional.
The oven was prewarmed to 200C.
The buns had ten minutes at 200C after which I turned the tray around and turned the oven temperature down to 180C for a further ten minutes.
Here is the tray of buns straight from the oven.
I have tried growing saffron bulbs in a pot under glass but only one of the twelve bulbs flowered. I am hoping for one hundred percent improvement in yield next season but not holding my breath.
For the Cornwall challenge round up later in June see The Face of New World Appliances or choclogblog