Saffron wreath


A Swedish style saffron bread wreath during Advent

This is my favourite bread to bake during Advent: a lovely saffron scented dough filled with candied orange peel and raisins and shaped into a wreath. Perfect for a leisurely breakfast or brunch. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for a saffron bread wreath


A baked saffron wreath on a large plate

• The wreath will puff up a lot when it is baked, so you will need a very large plate or board if you want to put it on display! (The plate shown above is 33 cm (13") in diameter and the wreath only just fits on it!)

Odense almond paste

• If you prefer an almond filling, replace the marmalade, raisins and the orange peel with 150 g of grated mandelmassa (almond paste).
• Use baking parchment to make it easier to transfer the wreath to a wire rack to cool.
• This recipe is based on using a stand mixer. If you want to make it by hand, increase the amount of flour to 550 g, melt the butter with the milk and increase the kneading time to 10 minutes.



0.4 g saffron threads, 1 packet
½ tsp sea salt
½ tbsp vodka
1 large egg, lightly beaten
500+ g strong (bread) white flour, or AP flour
100 g caster (superfine) sugar
7 g "fast action" dried yeast, 1 packet
300 g* milk
90 g unsalted (sweet) butter, softened

*We recommend using digital scales and measuing in grams.

Filling and decoration

40 g softened butter
1 tsp ground cardamom
100 g orange marmalade
50 g raisins
50 g candied orange peel, optional
2 tsp almond flakes (slivers), optional
1 tsp pearl sugar, optional


Saffron, salt and vodka

1. Place the saffron threads in a mortar with the salt and grind with the pestle until evenly mixed. Pour over the vodka and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place 500 g of the flour in the stand-mixer's bowl. Stir in the sugar and the dried yeast.

Saffron, milk, salt and egg mixture

3. Heat the milk until warm, between 35ºC and 40ºC (95ºF to 105ºF). Add the saffron mixture and half of the beaten egg, reserving the rest of the egg for glazing.

4. Fit the dough hook to your stand-mixer and with the machine running on minimum slowly add the milk mixture.

5. Increase the speed to 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid) and slowly add the softened butter, a bit at a time. Do this very slowly, taking about 3 minutes. If the mixture looks too wet add a tablespoon of flour.

Saffron dough when sticky

6. Continue to knead on speed 2 or 3, slowly adding additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a nice soft dough. The idea is to add as little flour as possible until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it. The exact amount to be added varies, but you will normally need to add 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour. Once you have added enough flour, continue to knead for a further 2 or 3 minutes. (The dough is unlikely to form a ball, which is why it needs finishing by hand - see step 7.)

Saffron dough ready to prove 

7. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Clean out the bowl, lightly oil it and then return the dough to the bowl. Cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap), a shower cap or a cloth and leave in a warm draught-free place for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.

8. Mix the butter and cardamom for the filling.

Saffron dough being rolled out

9. Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, knock it back a couple of times and then roll it out to a rectangle about 45 cm x 30 cm (18" x 12").

(If you are having difficulty getting the dough to keep its shape, leave it for 5 minutes before trying again as the dough needs time to relax while you are forming it. If you want an even wreath, trim the sides and use the off-cuts to make some saffron buns, but I don't normally bother.)

Saffron dough spread with butter, cardamom, marmalade, raisins and candied orange peel

10. Spread the butter and cardamom mixture over the dough, then the marmalade and finally sprinkle raisins and candied orange peel (optional) over the top.

Rolled up saffron dough shaped into a circle

11. Carefully roll the dough up lengthwise, with the seam on the bottom, transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and shape into a circle.

Saffron dough being shaped into a wreath

12. Using a pair of scissors, cut most of the way through the dough, cutting on a slant. After each cut, pull the dough out or push it into the centre of the circle to expose the filling, alternating as you go around the circle. Make between 12 and 20 cuts, but because it will puff up a lot when it is baked you don't need to be very neat or worry about doing it evenly.

13. Cover lightly with a cloth and set in a warm area for about 40 minutes, until the dough is nicely puffed up again.

14. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400°F, gas 6, fan 180ºC).

A second of a baked saffron bread wreath

15. Brush the dough with the remaining beaten egg, sprinkle with almond flakes (optional) and pearl sugar (optional) and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown with a slight caramelisation on the top. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


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Phone and tablet h32  phone & tablet version.pdf 

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