Saffron and Honey Rolls

Before moving to Colorado I spent several years living in the Keweenaw Peninsula, in Michigan’s U.P.  Easily one of the most lovely places in the country, the U.P. is a special place for us and we try to make it back whenever possible.  Saffron bread is something that I associate with my years in the U.P., along with a rich, braided version of cardamom bread that I would often buy from the Suomi restaurant, a place that had giant, thinly crisp-edged pancakes that made for a great Sunday breakfast. Loaves of the cardamom bread would be in the display counter at the register, along with jam tarts.  I rarely make these breads now, but they are perfect for holidays and special meals.

This is my “roll” version of saffron yeast bread, studded with golden raisins.  Dried currents are a good substitute if you prefer, but I really adore golden raisins.  They have a light citrusy flavor that accents the saffron.  Saffron is expensive, but a little bit goes a long way, and I recommend buying the whole threads rather than the ground type.  It stays fresh longer, looks beautiful, and you can be sure you are getting the real thing.  I went over the top with one of these warm-from-the-oven rolls by topping it with some saffron peach preserves I made in August.  Amazing.

Saffron and Honey Rolls
1 cup warm water or milk
1/3 cup honey
1 cup all-purpose flour, for proofing
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the tops
1/4 teaspoon salt
a generous pinch of saffron threads
4 cups additional flour
1/2 cup golden raisins

In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, stir together the water, honey, one cup of flour, and yeast.  Let this proof for five minutes, or until bubbly.  Mix in the eggs, butter, salt, and saffron.  Add in the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the raisins.

Using a dough hook or your hands, knead the dough for five minutes, adding additional flour if needed, until you have a soft, glossy dough.  Do not add too much flour to these, the dough should be workable but soft.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled in volume (I like to place the dough bowl on top of the dryer while it is running–it seems to be the perfect temperature for dough).

Butter a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.  Use your hands to pull off small balls of the dough to place in the pan.  This amount of dough makes 20 nice-sized rolls, so you can divide the dough into quarters and then each quarter into five balls.  Let them rise for 20 minutes, or until they have increased in size by 50 percent.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, or until light golden on top (they do not get deep brown on top, so do not overbake).  Remove and brush the tops with additional melted butter.  Serve warm.

There are very few things in this world better than a warm saffron bun.  Right now I can only think of two, and one of them involves said bun topped with more saffron peach preserves.

Thanks for reading,


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  1. I want to reach in a grab one. Seriously. These look fantastic! And I have both saffron threads and golden raisins in the house (I love golden raisins, too). Great post, Angela!

  2. One of these days I'm going to pick up some saffron and try out a recipe. This one would be a great pace to start. These rolls look so nice and soft.

  3. Vegan version please. Someone's got a BOAT LOAD of saffron to use up and no recipes for it. 😉

  4. Oh wow. These look so good! I can't wait to give these a try. I can almost smell them in the oven.

  5. Patty, I think it would easy to veganize because the eggs are not really for binding in this one. So: use water or almond milk as the liquid; skip the eggs, and use Earth Balance (probably like six tablespoons to help offset the moisture lost from the eggs). I think it would work very well!

  6. These looks so delicious I can imagine the smell

  7. You made homemade peach preserves? Ugh, I'm so jealous! I wish I knew how to put stuff up.

    These rolls look delicious!

  8. Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything}

    I made last week some saffron infused rolls and I loved the subtle flavor of saffron.
    Yours look great Angela, can't wait to try them!

  9. Mmm… these rolls sound heavenly with saffron and raisins, nice!

  10. Thanks all! Harrison ate most of the batch, so I think they were a success. Roxana, I saw your beautiful saffron bites–they looked delicious.

  11. Angela, these look amazing. But now I need the recipe for cardamom bread. 🙂

    God, I miss Sunday breakfasts at Suomi.

  12. I miss breakfast at Suomi too. I need to pick up some saffron the next time I'm at Penzey's and try this recipe. Looks amazing.

  13. These are great looking rolls
    I love working with yeast (I specialized in Challahs) – and I actually have saffron at home.
    I’d love to try this recipe

    1. Thanks, Winnie!

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