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Saffron layer cake recipe

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Adjust Servings:
3½ tablespoons (50 g) Butter
⅓ cup (100 ml) Milk
0.5 g/a small pinch of ground Saffron
4 Egg
1⅝ cups (325 g) Caster Sugar /superfine sugar
2¼ cups (300 g) plain/all-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract or vanilla sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ cup (50 g) Greek Yogurt or similar
frosted red Red Currants , to decorate (optional)
Marzipan Butter Cream
2¾ oz (75 g) Marzipan (at least 50% almonds), grated
2 cups (300 g) plus 2 tablespoons Icing Sugar /confectioners’ sugar
⅔ cup (150 g) Butter , softened
a few tablespoons of Milk (optional)
freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (optional)
3 x 18-cm/7-in. round cake pans

Saffron layer cake recipe

  • Serves 8
  • Medium


  • Marzipan Butter Cream



Saffron is one of the most festive spices in Scandinavia, especially in Sweden, so I sometimes use it in a cake. It has the flavours of our Christmas, but is a bit fancier than serving a saffron bun. Grind your own saffron in a pestle and mortar if you cannot get hold of ground saffron. If you are not a fan of marzipan, you can omit it from the buttercream filling and simply add some apple or pear compote between the layers for extra flavour.



Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Grease and line three 18-cm/7-in. diameter round cake pans. You can use larger cake pans, but your cake will be wider and not as tall.


Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the milk and saffron and set aside to infuse.


Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients together, then sift into the sugar mixture and fold in. Add the yogurt and the saffron milk to the mixture and fold again until incorporated.


Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly, and bake in the preheated oven for around 12–14 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Saffron is quite drying, so take care not to over-bake. Every oven varies, so keep an eye on the cakes.


Leave the layers to cool in the pans while you make the buttercream. Add a few tablespoons of boiling water to the marzipan and mix it with a fork to melt it slightly (this avoids lumps of marzipan in the buttercream). Using an electric beater, in a bowl mix the sugar and butter on high speed and add the marzipan. You may need to add a bit of milk, too. Beat and allow to fluff up for several minutes on high speed. If you feel it is too sweet, you can add a few drops of lemon juice or similar.


Remove the cakes from the pans and peel off the paper. Place the first layer of cake on the serving plate, then add a layer of the buttercream. Repeat until you have used all three layers. You can leave the cake naked and just decorate the top with the remaining buttercream or you can use the buttercream to give a light coating all around the sides, as shown here, for a very frosty-looking cake. I like to decorate it with frosted redcurrants for that festive snowy look.


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