Ingredients

½ teaspoon saffron threads
9 large eggs
240g caster sugar
160g flour
80g cornflour
½ teaspoon salt
225g icing sugar
300g butter, softened
3 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee, cold
6 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee-flavoured liqueur
saffron toffee & finely chopped pistachios, to decorate
FOR THE SAFFRON TOFFEE
1⁄4 teaspoon saffron
80g sugar
The lovely Joulep café in Shiraz serves an unusual saffron latte, a combination that is surprising and very good so I have used it here in a saffron cake with a coffee cream. I made a tall celebration-style cake which serves 12 but you can easily half the sponge mix to make one shorter cake for 6 people. If you do that, reduce the coffee cream only by a third (2 eggs, 150g icing sugar, 200g butter, 11⁄2 tablespoons coffee), so you still have plenty of icing. The sponge needs the moisture of the coffee cream and liqueur, so if you don’t want the alcohol, use weak coffee or even orange juice to drizzle over the layers.

The saffron toffee is a little tricky because the saffron makes it such a lovely orange colour that it’s hard to tell when the sugar starts to caramelise. Keep a close eye on it and you can tell by the smell, or test little bits on the paper as it bubbles. If the weather is muggy, make the toffee just before you need it. Of course, it is not essential to the cake if that all seems too hard!

Instructions

1.Heat the oven to 180°C.
2.Line 2 x 20cm cake tins.
3.Put the saffron in a small mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
4.Transfer to a small cup and pour over 50ml of nearly boiling water.
5.Cover with a saucer and leave to steep for 15 minutes.
6.Put six of the eggs and the caster sugar in a mixer and whisk until very thick and pale, about 8-10 minutes.
7.Sift over the flour, cornflour and salt and gently fold in along with the saffron water.
8.Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and bake for 25-28 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
9.Cool on a wire rack, then slice each cake in half.
10.Put the remaining three eggs and the icing sugar in a bowl over gently bubbling water and whisk until creamy, about 8-10 minutes.
11.Set aside to cool.
12.In a separate bowl, beat the butter until creamy then beat in the coffee.
13.When the egg mix is cool, beat them both together.
14.To assemble, put one layer of cake on a serving plate and drizzle with a little liqueur if using, spread with a little coffee cream, repeat the layers then cover the whole cake with the cream.
15.Decorate with saffron toffee and pistachios.
16.FOR THE SAFFRON TOFFEE
17.Line a baking tray with baking paper.
18.Put the saffron in a small mortar and pestle and grind to a rough powder.
19.In a small saucepan, heat the sugar with the saffron and 2 tablespoons water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
20.Then do not stir at all until the mixture just starts to caramelise.
21.Pour onto the tray in an even layer.
22.Leave to cool then break into pieces or crush.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Jessica Hemmings

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