clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
holding one of the Cornish saffron buns cut in half

Traditional Cornish Saffron Buns

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 16 buns 1x


Looking for an authentic British dessert?  Try these traditional Cornish saffron buns—bright yellow, flaky rolls packed with currants.  These sweet treats taste great with butter at a tea party.  Learn how to make these delicious homemade yeast rolls in a few steps!


  • 1 teaspoon good quality saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled (87g)
  • 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lard, chilled (87g)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (100g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (175 ml)
  • scant 1 1/2 cup dried currants (225g)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)


Preparing the Saffron (10 minutes toasting + 30 minutes infusing)

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 F.  Spread the saffron on a small cookie sheet and bake at 275 F for 10-15 minutes.  It should dry out and turn a deeper shade of red.  Watch it carefully to prevent it from burning.
  2. Pour the threads into a small bowl and crush them between your fingertips.  Stir in three tablespoons of boiling water and let the it infuse into the water for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.  The water should turn a deep golden orange.

Making the Dough (30 minutes + 2 hours proving)

  1. Warm the milk to 115 F.  If you use the microwave to warm the milk, put a small wooden spoon in the milk to break the surface tension and prevent it from exploding.
  2. Place the bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, then stir in each one with your finger.
  3. Mix the butter and lard into the flour with the paddle attachment until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir in the sugar, egg, saffron mixture, lemon and orange zest, and half of the milk.  Mix on low speed to start bringing the dough together, gradually adding more milk as needed to create a soft, somewhat sticky dough.  Keep mixing until all the flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for about 15 minutes, until the dough is very stretchy, silky smooth, is no longer sticking to the work surface, and has a sheen on its surface.  Test the dough by stretching a lump of it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  The dough should stretch until it's translucent without breaking.  If it breaks, knead a minute longer and check again.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough prove in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.  Alternatively, let the dough prove in the fridge overnight.

Shaping the Buns (20 minutes + 1 hour proving)

  1. Line an 11 by 17-inch rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Punch down the dough in the bowl to knock out the air, then dump in the currants and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until they're evenly distributed.
  3. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.  Roll each piece into a ball and space them evenly apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Place the tray inside a clean garbage bag.  Inflate the bag and tuck the ends underneath the tray to seal.  Set the tray in a warm place and let the dough balls prove for about 1 hour, until about doubled in size.
  5. About 10 minutes before the buns are done proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Baking the Buns (20 minutes + cooling)

  1. Bake in the middle of the oven at 375 F for 18-20 minutes.  Watch them carefully to make sure they don't burn.  The buns should be well browned and have an internal temperature of 190-200 F.
  2. Brush the crust with salted butter if desired, then let them cool completely on a wire rack.  Serve the buns warm or at room temperature, split in half, and spread with salted butter.  They taste great with a cup of tea or coffee!


  • Can I substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour?  Yes, you can; just realize that the dough won't be as strong and chewy.  Bread flour contains more gluten than all-purpose, and strengthens the dough.
  • Make the dough the night before and let it prove in the fridge overnight to save time.
  • Speed up the rising by using warm liquid in the dough and putting the dough in a warm place.
  • Eat them the same day they're made for the best freshness or toast under the broiler the next day.
  • Store the cooled rolls at room temperature in a zip-top bag or covered with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours after baking.  The fridge will make them go stale quickly.
  • Freeze leftovers in a zip-top bag to save them for another time.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: British

Keywords: cornish, recipe



Get our secrets to making amazing mocktails!