Saffron is a curious spice. Spaniards sprinkle it in their paella, Swedes bake it in their pastries. I’ve always wondered what exactly it tastes like. What makes it so special that each thread is handpicked from flowers and bottled in tiny, expensive glass jars? Well following the lead of the Swedes, I decided to bake saffron into a breakfast bun, also incorporating cloudberry jam (thanks IKEA!). I’m happy to report, I now have a solid idea of what saffron tastes like. It really does have a peculiar flavor, one that I can’t find the words to describe. So if you’re still wondering yourself… get baking!
Saffron Cloudberry Wreaths
Makes 8 wreaths
For the dough
- 1/2 cup milk, hot
- 1/2 tsp saffron
- 1 tsp yeast
- tangzhong: 1/4 cup water + 1 tbsp flour
- 300g (2.5 cups) flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
For the filling
- Cloudberry jam (sold at IKEA)
- Let the saffron threads soak in the hot milk for 15 minutes (the saffron will release a vibrant yellow hue). When the saffron-milk has cooled to lukewarm, add the yeast and let it dissolve.
- To make the tangzhong: In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and water until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until whisk-trailing lines start to form in the noticeably thickened batter (~2 min). Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large pot, add flour, sugar, salt, saffron-milk-yeast, and tangzhong. Use chopsticks to mix the ingredients and form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough to develop the gluten (~5min). Add 1 tbsp of butter at a time to the dough and knead till soft and elastic (~5min). Let the dough rise for an hour or till it has doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Stretch out a piece into a long rectangle. Spread an thin layer of jam onto the dough. From the long side, roll the dough into a log. Using a sharp knife, slice the log length-wise into two pieces. With the exposed edges facing up, criss-cross the two pieces together and then loop the ends to form a wreath. Repeat this for the remaining pieces of dough and let the dough rise again for 1 hour.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes (cover with an aluminum foil tent for the last 5 min to prevent over-browning).