Cornish Saffron Cake

    10 hours 55 min

    A traditional cake, which is still baked throughout Cornwall and Devon. Unfortunately, they are not distributed around the UK for the rest of us to enjoy. This recipe will show you how to make your own deliciously rich, orange-tinged, yeasted fruit cake at home. Enjoy for afternoon tea or elevenses.


    34 people made this

    Makes: 3 20x10cm cakes

    • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
    • 150ml boiling milk
    • 1 (7g) sachet dried active yeast
    • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
    • 200ml lukewarm water
    • 900g plain flour
    • 225g light brown soft sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 85g lard, cut into cubes
    • 85g butter, cut into cubes
    • 450g currants
    • 50g cut mixed peel

    Prep:2hr25min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Extra time:8hr soaking  ›  Ready in:10hr55min 

    1. Place saffron into a small bowl and pour over boiling milk. Allow to stand overnight.
    2. The day you want to bake, mix together the yeast, caster sugar and lukewarm water. Stir to blend and sit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
    3. Meanwhile, sieve together the flour into a large bowl and mix in the light brown soft sugar, mixed spice and salt. Rub in the lard and butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
    4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour the yeasted water into the well and work into a soft, smooth and pliable dough.
    5. Transfer dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Place in a warm, draft-free spot and let prove for 60 minutes or until double in size.
    6. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out to 1.5 to 2cm thick. Scatter over the currants and mixed peel, leaving a 2.5cm border all around. Fold the dough over and press the edges together.
    7. Gently knead the dough until the fruit is evenly incorporated into the dough. Divide into three equal sized portions and place each into a baking parchment lined 20x10cm loaf tin.
    8. Cover the tins with a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm spot for 35 to 45 minutes or until double in size.
    9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 C / Gas 7.
    10. Remove the tea towel. Bake the cakes in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Let cool in the tins for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

    Cook's note

    The cakes will slightly sink in the middle and will appear very moist. This is normal.

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    Reviews in English (3)


    I live in Cornwall so make this regularly. Unfortunately in your recipe you have omitted when to add the saffron infused milk to the mixture! I add this when I pour in the yeast mix.. Hope this helps, Claire x  -  05 Jun 2015


    This is a recipe to share. It is ideal for easter and I agree should be shared across the country.  -  08 Apr 2014


    never made it before but it turned out another lady said I also added the saffron milk mix in when I added the yeast mixture as it was omitted in the directions  -  03 Feb 2016