In Scandinavia, saffron plays at big role at Christmas time – especially in Sweden where saffron buns are served throughout December for Sundays in Advent and other gatherings. We usually use saffron for sweet things, not savoury. From buns to biscuits, lots of things are beautifully bright yellow and with a fragrant bite.
You can vary the fillings in this ‘rulltårta’ as you prefer – lots of berries go really well with saffron – raspberries, blueberries, lingonberries and fruit such as pears go really well. You can even omit the cream and just add jam (bilberry jam is ideal for this).
For the cake:
0.5g ground saffron (you can grind your own in pestle & mortar or buy pre-ground)
4 medium eggs
130g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
½ (half) tsp vanilla extract
130g plain flour
100g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
1 tsp almond extract
4-5 tbsp custard
200ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
icing sugar, for dusting
flaked almonds, to decorate
Optional: One ripe pear, peeled and chopped in to small pieces.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6.
Line a baking tray and draw an approx. 30cm x 25cm rectangle with a pencil on the baking parchment, then turn it over (alternatively, line a swiss roll tray of the same size). Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside to cool slightly. Add the saffron to infuse.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar for 6-8 minutes, until tripled in volume, thick and leaving a trail for three seconds. There is no other raising agent in this recipe so this stage is super important – and any knocking of the batter will cause the roll not to rise.
Very carefully, pour the melted saffron butter down the side of the mixing bowl, add the vanilla and fold them into the sugar and egg mixture until just combined. Sift over the flour and, using a figure-of-eight motion, carefully fold it in until fully incorporated. Take your time here; if you knock out the air, your cake base will be flat.
Pour the cake mixture onto the baking paper – it should be thick enough to hold its shape – allow it to go about 1cm outside the traced edge. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until soft and springy to touch (baking time can vary by oven)
Meanwhile, lay a damp tea towel on the counter with a sheet of baking parchment on top. Dust all over with caster sugar.
When the cake comes from the oven, cut the edges to the lines drawn on the paper then carefully turn it over onto the caster sugar and remove the backing paper. Roll the warm cake carefully using the damp tea towel – this will help the cake retain its shape. Leave wrapped until completely cool.
To make the filling
Mix the ground almonds, caster and icing sugars with a tbsp of water and extract into a paste, then add the custard. In a separate bowl, whip the cream stiff with the vanilla. Fold the two together, carefully.
Unroll the cooled cake. Spread the filling layer across the base. Scatter over the chopped ripe pear pieces, if using. Roll the cake back up carefully, wrap in the baking parchment and chill for a few hours before serving. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with flaked almonds.