Each bite of this buttery saffron cake with raisins is guaranteed to transport your taste buds to a world of culinary bliss. Freshly ground saffron blends beautifully with the plump raisins to create a delectable treat that is perfect for any occasion.
As I have mentioned time and time again on my blog, I do not consider myself a baker. I do not have the training or second sense when it comes to baking. Nor, do I have the patience to meticulously decorate my baked creations.
I gravitate towards simpler desserts, where a primary ingredient gets all of the attention, whether it be a fruit or a spice.
Creating and developing a brand-spanking new dessert recipe is challenging, too. Unlike cooking a meal, where the ingredients can be eye-balled and adjusted to one’s personal taste, baking is truly an art.
Measuring accurately is a must. Attention to detail is absolute. And, I never post one of my own baked recipes without re-creating it half a dozen times for continued success.
Luckily for my family, they have enjoyed the small modifications I adjusted each time I baked this luscious saffron cake with raisins.
Why you must try this recipe
My family’s favorite cookie are my Persian Saffron Raisin Cookie (Shirini Kishmishi). It is buttery. Oh yeah, lots of butter. And features aromatic saffron with dots of raisins. I realized that this combination would be perfect in a buttery pound cake.
Yes, it’s rich.
Yes, it’s buttery.
Yes, it’s delicious.
Yes, you will eat the crumbs.
ALL of the crumbs.
Now don’t be intimidated by using saffron. It is expensive – more expensive per ounce than oil or gold. But, with high quality products, especially saffron, very little goes very far.
This saffron cake is more like a pound cake in texture. It is oh so delicious (sorry about that) and it won’t last long because it will get eaten quickly – actually, not so sorry about that!
It’s the butter in this recipe that gives the cake edges it’s brown color, similar to the crispy edges of the raisin cookies I was trying to emulate.
I have baked this recipe in a metal loaf pan, glass loaf pan and silicone baking molds. It always turns out beautifully. How much the cake browns depends on the pan you use and your oven. My last bake was made in a toaster oven, so it had a nice crust around surrounding the pound cake.
All three of my kids swear this cake tastes just like the saffron raisin cookies. Instead of a crispy cookie, you have a pillowy soft pound cake. It might seem like a simple cake, but the color, aroma and flavor will remind you how amazing this cake really is.
Ingredients you need
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I still have saffron my family has brought for me from Iran, but I still ordered this saffron to try it out. The saffron threads are crimson red, its smells amazing and it produces a bright yellow color to your foods.
- Saffron: This is the star of this recipe, so choose a high quality saffron. The quality will affect the flavor, aroma and color of your cake. I share tips on choosing saffron further below.
- Butter: I prefer unsalted butter so I can control the salt taste in my baking. I usually prefer baking with olive oil, but this recipe is all about the flavors of the Persian cookie, and that baby is made with buttah!
- Eggs: Large eggs are the standard in baking.
- Plain Greek yogurt: This is my secret ingredient in making my cakes so moist and fluffy.
- Raisins: Dark red raisins are used in this recipe. Green raisins could work, but aren’t as sweet.
- Pantry staples: All purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract and kosher salt.
1. Crush saffron in a mortar and pestle then add hot water. Let it steep like tea and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
4. Mix in eggs, yogurt and vanilla into butter mixture.
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone scraper and mix in the reserved saffron liquid.
6. On low speed, mix in half of the flour mixture. Mix in the remainder of the flour mixture, until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Do not over mix.
7. Stir in raisins by hand.
8. Apply non-stick spray to a 9×5 inch loaf pan. For metal pans, I also like to line with parchment paper for easy removal. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. The batter will be thick.
Gently tap the pan to your work surface to remove air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 60-75 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan over a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
Expert tips and recipe FAQs
High quality saffron threads are ALL RED. No yellow or light orange. If it is yellow, it is probably Safflower Threads, a cheaper alternative that does not yield the brilliant yellow color or powerful aroma of true saffron.
I see a lot of food bloggers mistakenly using safflower thinking that it is saffron. It is NOT saffron. It is nothing like saffron.
I store my saffron in a sealed container in my pantry. When I pop it open, I’m blown away by the smell each and every time. THAT is what separates the cheap stuff from the good stuff.
I keep my saffron in thread form for storage and then ground them as needed, with the tried and true mortar and pestle. When you add a bit of hot water to the ground saffron, you will notice, again, that the high quality saffron will glow a dark orange, not yellow.
Store cooled caked, wrapped tightly in plastic at room temperature, up to 3 days.
This saffron cake is a delicious and aromatic pound cake studded with sweet raisins. It is buttery and rich, bright yellow and aromatic from the saffron. Saffron has a distinct scent and mild flavor. It is not spicy or hot. You can use as little or a much saffron as you like in this recipe.
When cooking or baking with saffron, you first should grind the saffron threads with a mortar and pestle. Once powdering, add a teaspoon or two or hot water to let it steep, like tea. After 10-20 minutes, you will have a crimson water that you can add to your cake or cookie batter. The longer the saffron steeps in the water, the deeper the color your final dish will be.
- ⅛ teaspoon ground saffron
- 1 TBS hot water
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted softened butter
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- In a small bowl combine ground saffron and hot water. Let saffron steep for 10 minutes before using.
- Apply non-stick spray to a 9x5 inch loaf pan, and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together using an electric mixer sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in eggs, yogurt and vanilla into butter mixture.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix in the reserved saffron liquid.
- On low speed, mix in half of the flour mixture.
- Mix in the remainder of the flour mixture, until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Do not over mix.
- Stir in raisins by hand.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. The batter will be thick.
- Gently tap the pan to your work surface to remove air bubbles.
- Bake in the oven for 60-75 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan over a cooling rack for 30 mins.
- Life the cake out of the pan and place on the cooling rack to completely cool.
- Slice cake to desired thickness once cake is at room temperature.
- Store cooled caked, wrapped tightly in plastic at room temperature, up to 3 days.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 271mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 1gSugar: 35gProtein: 5g
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This post was originally published May 12, 2012. I have recently updated the content and photographs and this post.