Honey Saffron Cake


1        Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and line a round, deep 20cm cake tin with two layers of baking parchment (see Knowhow, below). Tie a few sheets of newspaper around the outside of the tin, level with the top of the baking parchment.

2        Heat the brandy in a small pan, then add the saffron and leave to infuse off the heat for a few mins. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl, then beat together until creamy and smooth. Mix the fruit, nuts and brandy saffron mix into the batter and stir well.

3        Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the top and make a slight dip in the middle. Bake for 1½ hrs, then cover loosely with foil to stop the top over-browning. Turn oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and cook for 1 hr more until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin then, while it’s still warm, prod the cake all over with a skewer.

4        Mix the brandy and honey together and spoon over the cake. Wrap up well in foil and keep in an airtight container until Christmas, feeding with more honeyed brandy every so often.


For the cake

5        225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

6        2 tbsp brandy

7        pinch saffron (about 1⁄4tsp strands)

8        225g golden caster sugar

9        4 eggs

10    225g plain flour

11    50g ground almonds

12    1 tsp baking powder

13    300g raisins

14    300g sultanas

15    100g natural-coloured glacé cherries, halved

16    85g mixed peel

17    50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped

18    50g whole blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped

19    50g walnuts pieces

To soak

20    3 tbsp brandy

21    2 tbsp honey