Butter Saffron Cake

  • Serves

    serves 8-10


This recipe is based on one from Gunilla von Heland, a food editor in Stockholm. We found that steeping the saffron in vodka helps boost the flavor of the spice throughout the cake.



  • 13 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. saffron
  • 2 tbsp. vodka
  • 1 cup milk
  • 14 oz. active dry yeast
  • 7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • Canola oil, for greasing


  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 3 12 oz. almond paste, grated
  • 13 cup dried cranberries
  • 13 cup raisins
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. Swedish white pearl sugar
  • 14 cup sliced almonds
  • Flour, for dusting


Step 1

Make the dough: In a small bowl, vigorously stir together 1 tsp. sugar and saffron. Stir in vodka and cover with plastic wrap; let sit for 1 hour.

Step 2

Heat milk to 115°. Whisk together milk and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add butter, egg yolk, and vodka-saffron mixture, and whisk until smooth; set aside. In a large bowl, combine remaining sugar along with the flour and salt; add milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 6–8 minutes. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside to let rest until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Step 3

Make the filling: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9" round springform cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper; set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it into an 8" x 20" rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, then sprinkle dough with almond paste, cranberries, raisins, and orange zest. Beginning with the short side closest to you, roll dough into a thick log. Cut log into 12 equal slices and transfer each slice, cut side up, to prepared cake pan, nestling them gently next to each other to fill pan completely. Cover pan with a tea towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush surface with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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