Swedish Saffron Cake (Saffronskaka)
Here is a moist, delicious cake I came across in an Eating Well article on saffron. The cake originated in Sweden where it is called, Saffronskaka, and is frequently served on St. Lucia’s Day celebrated on the 13th of December in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland. Saffron is popular in Swedish baked goods, and this cake is served with coffee or tea.
Because pastry flour has less protein resulting in a more tender crumb, the recipe calls for whole-wheat PASTRY flour, not whole-wheat flour. The original recipe uses golden raisins, but I opted for my favorite Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend (dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries and golden raisins). I use these all the time in everything from bread pudding to stuffing. Tom eats them right out of the bag. Yummy!
Saffron is the key ingredient in this cake so try to use as good a quality saffron as you can find and definitely not that old jar in the cabinet that was opened who knows when. When I don’t have friends bringing me saffron from Dubai, I purchase Penzeys’ Coupe Grade Saffron from Spain, but I also like Trader Joe’s Spanish Saffron Threads, which are a tad less expensive.
I’m not sure what I was expecting this to taste like, but it was delicious. Not only does the saffron perfume the kitchen while it is baking, but it adds a beautiful golden hue to the cake. The cake is hard to describe…it’s not a sweet cake, it’s light and airy, studded with the dried fruit and topped with the crunchy, toasted almond slices, amazing combination. This makes it perfect with a cup of tea or after a heavy meal and it’s great for breakfast too! If you would like something a little sweeter, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream with orange zest.
As they say in Sweden, “denna tårta är jättegod!” Ok, I could never in a million years pronounce that so let’s go with …. This cake is delicious!
1 ¼ stick (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat PASTRY flour
½ cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of fine sea salt (try Baleine)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup low-fat milk
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup golden raisins (or combination of your favorite dried fruits)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut out a 9-inch round of parchment paper by drawing a circle around the pan, then folding it into quarters and cutting along the line for a perfect fit. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper and spray again.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and add the saffron. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder and salt together.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add milk, olive oil and the slightly cooled saffron butter. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the raisins or dried fruit. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around the pan edge and un-mold the cake onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely, at least an hour. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake being careful not to crack the cake. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
Makes 16 slices.
Recipe from Eating Well