Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Servings: English Saffron Bread

With the London Olympics starting this week, I wanted to bake something Londony.

Those who know me well, know I am a huge anglophile--loving everything from British cinema to fiction to sports to television to music to, well plain and simple, the British people.

Living in South Africa, a former British colony, only increased my love for the British. I'm fairly positive some of my English South African friends thought I was a bit nuts. But for me you only need turn on an episode of Doctor Who or Downton Abbey or Sherlock, and I am transfixed.

So, yes, I'm super-excited to have two and a half of weeks of 24/7 London.

Not to mention it's the Olympics, and who doesn't love the Olympics? Who doesn't love the world coming together and putting everything else on pause for a few weeks for a bit of fun?

There is no doubt sport does something to us. It does something to our collective spirit, and I think for me, anyway, this opportunity to bring the world together reminds me of the humanity and spirit of people all over the world who we often stereotype so freely and dismiss so flippantly.

I love the games because we can marvel at true athleticism and then pretend to be experts in fields we know nothing about and in the end be inspired by stories of individuals who have overcome the odds to get there.

Sports fan or not, the Olympics are a great few weeks, and I plan on enjoy every minute of them.

English Saffron Bread

View original recipe on


  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon saffron*
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Heat milk in small saucepan until it begins to bubble, remove from heat. Add butter and sugar and stir until melted. Allow to cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, soak saffron in hot water. Allow to cool until lukewarm, drain and reserve liquid.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine milk mixture with reserved saffron water and eggs. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Add salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest and 4 cups of flour. Mix well. Add remaining flour a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil large mixing. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Deflate dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into three equal pieces, form into 14 inch long "ropes". Braid ropes together and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to wire rack and cool.
*Original recipe called for two teaspoons of saffron, but one was more than enough.

Like today's Sunday Serving? You might also like Whole Wheat Bread.

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