Saffron cake

A Cornish classic, perfect for tea time served with a generous smear of clotted cream.


  • 1 tsp saffron strands
  • 125ml/4½fl oz milk
  • 500g/1lb 2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp dried, fast-action yeast
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 250g/9oz cold butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g/9oz caster sugar
  • 300g/10oz currants
  • 50g/2oz candied peel
  • 200g/7oz clotted cream, to serve

Preparation method

  1. Grease a 1kg/2.2lb loaf tin with butter.

  2. Heat the saffron strands and milk in a pan over a medium heat until the milk mixture has turned yellow and is almost simmering.

  3. In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and nutmeg until well combined.

  4. Add the butter and sugar and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

  5. Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf tin. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until risen.

  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

  7. Transfer the saffron cake to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the cake is pale golden-brown and has risen.

  8. Set the cake aside to cool slightly, then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate and cut into slices. Serve with clotted cream.

Required techniques

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

1-2 hours preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour cooking time

Makes 1x 1kg/2.2lb cake