saffron maritozzi

saffron maritozzi

Saffron maritozzi are soft Italian style buns made with a hint of Lebanese saffron. Unlike the earlier saffron buns, this dough is enriched with an egg yolk. We’ve added a bit of texture from pine nuts (Lebanese if you can find them) and chopped candied orange peel, if you have some leftover from Christmas. A perfect way to start a weekend breakfast. If you happen to have made a batch of newly made marmalade, you’re in for a celebratory breakfast.

Freshly made bread for Sunday breakfast may seem like hard work, but this recipe proves otherwise. Starting the dough the afternoon before, means that before going to bed you can shape the dough and leave in a cool kitchen for the second proving overnight. In the morning, dough risen (see photo), heat the oven and cook for 15 minutes. This kind of bread making might even become a habit!

We based this recipe for saffron maritozzi on one from Rachel Roddy’s beautiful cook book Five Quarters. We added Zejd’s saffron prompted by an Instagram post of lussekater, also made with Lebanese saffron. This elegant Swedish bun, made on December 13th, St Lucy’s day, is to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. The addition of saffron, the colour of the sun, seems highly appropriate. So, as the dark mornings are slowly getting lighter, we thought these delicious buns were just the thing for breakfast. We hope you agree. 

makes 10


for the sponge

40g strong white four
225ml milk, warm
10g dried fast-action yeast
20g caster sugar

infusing saffron
a generous pinch of Zejd saffron
1 tablespoon of warm milk

for the dough

250g strong white flour
120g plain flour
30g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
grated zest of an unwaxed lemon
1 egg yolk

25g pine nuts
a few pieces of chopped candied orange peel


  1. To make the sponge, put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together and leave for 20 minutes somewhere warm. 
  2. If you have a pestle and mortar, grind the saffron until it looks like powder. If you don’t have one, just crumble the saffron with your fingers. Add the tablespoon of warm milk and set aside for 20 minutes. 
  3. When the sponge is active, add the ingredients for the dough and using a dough hook knead for 5 minutes. Or by hand until the mixture comes away form the side of the bowl. 
  4. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave the dough somewhere warm until it has almost doubled in size. 
  5. Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto a clean surface. If you want to add some pine nuts or chopped candied peel, flatten the dough slightly, and gently work these in to the dough.
  6.  Divide up the dough into 10 log-shaped pieces, each one weighing approximately 90g.
  7. Line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper. Leaving enough room around each one, arrange the buns on the baking tray, with the seam of the bun underneath. Leave in a cool place overnight to prove, covering them the clean tea towel. If you leave them in the fridge, they will need to come back to room temperature for an hour before baking.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/ 180 degrees fan/ Gas mark 6. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are lightly golden in colour. 
  9. While they are baking, make a light syrup. Slowly melt 50 g of caster sugar with 50 ml of water in a heavy based pan. Once this has melted and gently come to the boil, remove from the heat. 
  10. When the buns are baked, and still warm, brush the tops with a bit of the sugar syrup. 

Enjoy with marmalade. Any left over will freeze well, for a useful emergency breakfast treat!

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