White Chocolate and Cranberry Saffron Braid
This cranberry saffron braid is a twist on one of my favourite Swedish festive breads, lussebullar. Although unlike lussebullar, which are made specifically to celebrate Lucia, this saffron bread can be eaten whenever you like.
To really get in the festive spirit, I decided to add some homemade fresh cranberry jam. To finish off, I went with chunks of white chocolate. The concept of saffron and white chocolate is not a new one to me. I made some soft saffron and white chocolate buns a few years ago, and they were a big hit. I decided to add the cranberries purely because I had some fresh left over after making my white chocolate and mascarpone cheesecake.
Although it breaks a cardinal rule to cut open a loaf of bread before it has cooled (you can end up with gummy dough), it has to be done for this recipe. The taste sensations when eating a slice, pretty much straight out of the oven, exceeded all expectations. Warm, fragrant, slightly dense bread with a tart jam and thick melted chocolate. Unreal.
Freshen up saffron bread
Although eating the bread fresh from the oven is the optimal way to enjoy it, we can’t always finish a loaf off in one sitting. Or, can we? Seriously though, I am into the third day of eating my saffron braid. Although I’ve noticed that bread made with saffron does dry out very quickly, a quick spurt in the microwave easily fixes that. 20 seconds is all it takes to make the chocolate gooey again and the bread nice and soft.
This cranberry saffron braid also freezes very well. I sliced it up when it was completely cool, kept a kept a few slices out, then popped the rest in the freezer. Perfect to pull out when you want something delicious and quick with your coffee.
Adaptations for this saffron braid
Although this recipe is awesome as it is, there are loads of ways it can be adapted. Why not keep the white chocolate but use raspberry or strawberry jam, instead? Nutella and chopped roasted hazelnuts, or dark chocolate with pecans both sound like sublime combos with the saffron bread. You could also switch up the toppings, too. I just sprinkled over some icing sugar, but you could drizzle chocolate, add some almond slices, or whatever else you fancy.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Saffron Braid
- 50g (3½ tbsp) butter
- ½ gram (¼ tsp) ground saffron
- 200ml (⅘ cup) milk
- 1 egg
- 7g (2 tsp) dried yeast (see note 1)
- 100g (½ cup) sugar
- 300-450g (2½ cups - 3¾ cups) spelt flour (see note 2)
- 65g fresh cranberries (see note 3)
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs water
- 150g (5¼ oz) white chocolate (cut into chunks)
- 1 egg (for the egg wash)
- icing sugar (for sprinkling)
- Heat the butter in a pan.
- When melted, add the saffron, stir, and allow the mixture to cook for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the milk. Allow to sit for around 15 minutes.
- Add the cooled mixture and the egg to your stand mixer, and give it a quick mix (see note 4).
- Add the remaining ingredients and 300g of flour and start to mix.
- Gradually add more flour as needed (one tablespoon at a time). Be careful with this step, as too much flour will result in dry bread.
- The dough has had enough flour when it still feels sticky, but most of it comes off the attachment when you pull it.
- Switch to a dough hook attachment (if you have one) and knead the dough for around 5-7 minutes. When ready, the dough will have formed into more of a ball, should be shiny, elastic and drop fairly easily from the hook.
- Cover with a tea-towel and allow the dough to proof in a warm place for around an hour (or until doubled in size).
- Add all three ingredients to a pan and heat them until the cranberries start to pop and soften.
- Blitz them in a food processor until fairly smooth (lumps are okay). Set to one side.
- When the dough is ready, line a large baking tray with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 190℃ / 374℉.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle shape. It doesn't matter too much about specifics, but make sure your dough is fairly thin and has an even thickness throughout (see note 5)
- Down the centre of the rolled out dough, spread your cranberry jam.
- Next, cover the jam with chocolate chunks, making sure to keep them in one layer (not on top of each other) so that they can melt.
- Cut strips, slightly diagonally, down either side of the jam/chocolate.
- Carefully, alternating between one side and the next, place each strip over the jam/chocolate in a criss-cross pattern. Tuck both ends underneath themselves.
- When ready, carefully move onto the prepared baking tray.
- Beat the egg and liberally wash over the dough.
- Bake for around 15 minutes, until the bread is golden (don't over-bake it).
- Leave to cool for around 30 minutes and then sprinkle with icing sugar. Slice and eat it immediately. Enjoy!
- In Sweden we have something called dried yeast. It is used both in warm liquid to proof and also added directly to flour. I am aware that the US has two options for dried yeast, and I believe dry active yeast is the most similar for the purpose of making this particular recipe.
- You can use spelt or regular flour for this recipe (just use the same amount).
- I used fresh cranberries, but you can use frozen. Just follow the same instructions. I used only 65g, which I felt was perfect. However, if you like cranberries, use a little more.
- I have made the dough using a stand mixer, but you could prepare the dough without one (just follow exactly the same instructions).
- You might want to divide the dough into two, and have two braids. My braid was very large and quite difficult to handle!