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. 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.
- 50g butter
- 100ml milk
- A small pinch of
- ground saffron
- 4 eggs
- 325g caster sugar
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50g Greek yoghurt
- Frosted redcurrants, to decorate
- For the marzipan buttercream
- 75g marzipan, grated
- 300g icing sugar
- 150g butter, softened
- A few tbsp milk
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line three 18cm diameter round cake tins.
- 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.
- 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 min 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.