Almond Saffron Infused Cake

Every time I use saffron in a recipe, I feel like I have a new appreciation for this incredible spice, the aroma is enticing, the golden color is inviting, and the taste is just heavenly sweet.

Yes, saffron is expensive, actually it's the most expensive spice in the world, but if you brew saffron rather than using saffron strands, your saffron will go a long way.  In my kitchen, I always have a small jar of brewed saffron that I use for baking & cooking.

Iran's saffron is one of the best saffron in the world and there are two school of thoughta regarding how to use saffron. Some people believe for the best result, you place few ice cubes in a jar and add ground saffron, as the ice gradually melts, the saffron get the most color. Others believe in brewing saffron in a small saffron pot, the same as we brew tea in Iran, adding some hot water to ground saffron and placing it on top of tea kettle to brew slowly. I am a believer of the later.

Key-points:

Saffron pairs really well with most nuts, specially pistachios and almonds. In today's recipe, I choose to pair it with almonds.  I used ground almonds, instead of buying expensive almond meal, just use a food processor, but the key is not to grind the almonds too much and keep a little bit of chunks in there; that add a pleasant crunch to each bite. 

I don't like overly sweet pastries, so I kept the sugar on the low side. If you like it sweeter, add up to 100 grams of sugar. 

Almond Saffron Infused Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4oz whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon brewed saffron
  • 180g sugar
  • 4oz extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 125g flour, sifted
  • ¾ tsp baking-powder
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds,
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Honey Saffron Cranberry Sauce:

  • juice of one orange including the pulps
  • 100g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • really generous pinch saffron
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F /175°C.
  2. Grease and base-line two 6" cake pans or one large 9".
  3. Using an electric mixer beat the sugar and olive oil until combined.
  4. Gradually add the eggs and yolks, beating well after each addition. Add the almond extract & brewed saffron and beat for few more minutes.
  5. In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, ground almonds, & baking powder
  6. alternatively add milk and flour mix
  7. Divide the batter equally between the two pans, sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the the tester comes out clean, then remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Once the cake is completely cool, you can dust it with powdered sugar and serve or you can make a honey saffron cranberry sauce and add it warm to the cake and serve.

Process:

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients & place on medium heat; once the mixture comes to a boil and cranberries start popping, lower the heat and place the lid on the saucepan. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. At this point the cranberries are cooked and you should have a thick sauce, pour it hot over the cake and serve.

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