entertainingfoodFood & Drinkkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: delicious days

by Grace Bonney

this week’s recipe for saffron buns is by former new media/graphic designer nicole stich…better known as nicky, half of the team behind the award-winning site delicious:days. i love delicious:days for a few reasons, one of the primary being the food photography paired with the simple yet powerful layout of the site. it’s definitely a regular stop for me. quick note: don’t be put off by the length of the recipe- yeasted recipes often seem long, but it’s just detailed so you don’t make mistakes! click here for the full recipe or just click “read more” below- happy baking! –kristina

about nicole: nicole runs delicious days together with her partner oliver seidel (who is in charge of the technical backbone of the blog). the blog documents her culinary experiences in her own kitchen in munich as well as when on the road, always accompanied by luscious (food) photography. after studying law, she changed careers and became a new media/graphic designer. delicious:days became the perfect platform for combining her passion for good food/cooking with stylish, yet purist design. the site was awarded one of 50 coolest websites by time magazine and nicky is currently working on her first cookbook, which will be published in autumn 2008, both in english and in german.

Sunny Saffron Brioche
yields 12 muffin-sized brioches
Active time: about 30 minutes
Baking time: about 20 minutes

500g (appx 2 cups) all-purpose flour
20g (1.4 tablespoons) compressed (fresh) yeast (or 7g- 0.5 tablespoons- active dry yeast)
200g (7 ounces) milk, warm
~1/4 tsp saffron
75g (5.3 tablespoons) white sugar
1 pinch of salt
75g (5.3 tablespoons) butter, soft, plus extra for greasing tray and brioche
2 large eggs

All ingredients need to be room temperature, make sure to take them out of the fridge early enough.

Sieve the flour into a bowl, make a little depression in the middle and crumble the compressed yeast into it. Heat the milk until lukewarm. Grind the saffron threads in a mortar – it is easier, if you add a teaspoon of sugar – then add the saffron sugar to the warm milk, it will instantly turn bright yellow. Pour as much milk into the well as necessary to cover the yeast crumbs, then stir the yeast-milk mix once or twice. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let this sponge rise for about 10 to 15 minutes in a warm and cozy spot, the surface will start to look bubbly.

Add the remaining ingredients (saffron milk, sugar, pinch of salt, butter, eggs ) and knead well, either manually or with your kitchen machine until the dough can be easily removed from the bowl (non-sticky). If it still feels too sticky, add some more flour, only one tablespoon at a time. Again, let the covered bowl rest in a warm place for at least an hour, the size of the dough should almost double.

Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F) and grease the cups of a regular muffin tin (12 holes) with butter. Knead dough one more time and toss on a floured pastry board. Cut in equal pieces and form little snow ball sized dumplings (I prepared a model, trimmed it until it had the perfect size and weighted it afterwards. The rest of the dough I cut into equal pieces, each around 70g.) Reserve a small amount of dough for the little balls to top the brioches and to ensure typical look.

Fill each cup of the tin with a dough ball, then poke it with the handle of a wooden spoon or your finger, this is where you place a tiny little dough ball – hey, it’s all about the look! Melt two tablespoons of butter and carefully brush the soon-to-be-brioches. Cover with foil and let rest a final time, 15 to 30 minutes should do just fine. Bake at 200°C (390°F) for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown. Cover with parchment paper if the tops get too dark too fast. Remove from the oven, carefully release them from the muffin tray and brush them with a little melted butter if desired, giving them a nice little extra glow. Enjoy for breakfast or whenever the time is right for a treat!

Why I chose this recipe
My family, especially my grandma baked a lot with fresh yeast. The general process is one of the things I inhaled with every cell of my body. Naturally, I absolutely love working with it, crumbling the yeast cube with my fingers, and of course its flavour. Besides, traditionally saffron was used in sweet baked goods a lot, even though it was (and still is) a quite expensive spice. (Don’t be tempted to use the cheap substitutes.) To me it was a logical conclusion to combine these two family favourites to a sweet brioche – which, little surprise, turned out incredibly good! Their bright yellow colour is a perfect kick-off for every sunny (or not so sunny) morning, it will be hard going back baking regular brioches though…

About the dog in the pictures: This is Jackson, our friends’ Jack-Russell, which we regularly take care of. As soon as I head to the kitchen, Jackson will follow and is always very curious, what’s going on. So it was quite impossible to get a good photo without him hypnotizing the muffins, hoping one would jump ship…

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  • Love the recipe..but I have an important (random question) Nicky’s sweater/wrap – where is it from? I need it! Please help…

  • That looks like a delicious way to start the day. (especially a birthday!:)
    I’m with Susan… I’m sUre I need Nicky’s sweater/wrap also!

    Grace, I start my day checking out your wonderful website- thank you!
    It’s like internet yoga!

  • Please, please, please answer the question about the sweater/wrap! I loooovvveee it! And the buns look wonderful too.

  • The buns and Nicole are cute, love Nicole’s style and have to join in and say, “I Love Her Sweater/Wrap”! AWESOME :D

  • Hi everyone,
    Sorry I have no better news, but the wrap is from a small shop in our neighborhood in Munich, where I bought it some months ago (I love it, too!). Its label reads “King Kong”, but searching the net hasn’t helped me to find out more about the manufacturer.

    Anyway, thank you for your kind feedback ;)

  • Thanks for the great recipe, Nicky! This was my first baking endeavor with yeast, and it turned out wonderfully (with a little help). : ) One tip for anyone trying this out: if you are using dry yeast, I think it’s better to mix it with the milk separately in a cup or small bowl before putting it into the flour.
    Otherwise.. I love the color of the saffron!

  • It looks SO good. Hubby clipped an article from the newspaper with the picture – it said to go to the website for the recipe. Going to make it this weekend.

    As for the wonderful sweater….there is a pattern for a very similar one in Vogue Knitting Knit.1 magazine spring 2007

  • BTW – There is no possible way that 500 grams of flour is approx 2 cups. It is more like 3.5 -4.25 depending on how you measure. (Spoon flour into cup or dunk cup into flour container.)

    Mine are in their first rise as I type this but I hope they are not over stirred since I had to keep adding flour and more and more. sigh. Guess I have to get a scale.

  • I couldn’t have resist these, even if the weather in Zürich wasn’t so awfully gray and rainy all week. So I tried baking with yeast for the first time and it worked:) Thank you for the recipe.

  • Hi. For those of you who don’t measure flour by weight, you really gotta try it. It’s WAY more accurate bcs it doesn’t get messed up by how much air happens to be in the flour.

    Love this blog, BTW. Keep up the good work!

  • Great recipe! But another comment about the flour — 500 grams is actually 4.5 cups. I wound up using 5.5 cups.

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