Ready in 2 hours 30 minutes
This is a version of traditional English Saffron Buns. They are often served around holidays
Bring water to a boil. Turn heat off, add saffron and allow to steep at least 30 minutes. Strain liquid into mixing bowl and discard tea strands.
* American saffron is actually Safflower rather than the more expensive Spanish saffron. It looks like pencil shavings and may be ordered from healthfood stores.
Mix 1 Tbs sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Add the yeast and set aside to let it grow a bit. Don't get the water too hot as it will kill the yeast. It should foam and bubble after a few minutes. If it doesn't, the yeast is dead and should be replaced.
Put raisins and dates in a cup or small bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup boiling or very hot water over them and allow to sit about 30 min. to soften. Other dried or candied fruits may be substitured as you desire
Beat eggs with a fork or whisk.
Add the sugar, salt, butter, beaten eggs, lemon juice, orange juice to the strained, warm (not hot) saffron tea in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped nuts, raisins & dates, and yeast starter.
Add flour in about one cup increments and stir well after each addition using a large wooden spoon.
Keep mixing and adding flour until you have a soft dough. The dough will still look a little sticky but not wet and shiny. Don't knead the dough. You will need a total of 10 - 11 cups of flour depending on the total volume of liquid that was used and the flour. The dough will look like it still needs flour, but if you add the amount that it would take to get it to a kneadable consistency, it will be tough. Stop at 11 cups.
Set bowl aside in a warm spot to let it rise until double. Stir down and let rise again.
Turn oven on to 350 degrees to preheat.
Grease loaf pans (2-3 large or 4-5 small) with shortening or butter.
Turn the dough into the greased pans. Let raise about 20 minutes. Bake loaves at 350 until they are brown on top and sound a bit hollow when tapped gently. Baking time depends on size of loaf tin used but will be 30 - 50 min.
NOTES: This is the recipe used by Velma Simet each Christmas for many years. The recipe comes from the English side of her family. Note - Grandma Velma often baked saffron bread in a 9x13 cake tin or in round cake tins and then frosted them before serving - like a coffee cake). If you use loaf tins, the bread can be sliced and eaten fresh or frozen and sliced and toasted.
Each (app 100g) slice contains an estimated:
Cals: 230, FatCals: 40, TotFat: 5g
SatFat: 2g, PolyFat: 1g, MonoFat: 2g
Chol: 23mg, Na: 231mg, K: 150mg
TotCarbs: 42g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 12g
NetCarbs: 40g, protein: 6g
Christmas morning just wouldn't be the same without a toasted slice of saffron bread and mug of coffee or chocolate.