Baking bread can be fun and joyful and bring means of self-expression, creativity, mindfulness, and even can be considered a type of therapy. The joy from baking was revealed to people more than before during this year's pandemic, as it allowed people to soothe their anxieties through the creation of exquisite masterpieces. One of the reasons flour became a rare item to find in the grocery stores. Cooking and baking is pure happiness and we encourage that you continue this habit in the new year. So what better way to continue bread baking than with the ultimate saffron and onion bread loaf.
The use of saffron in bread-baking is mostly associated with Swedish sweet saffron bread. Yet, saffron also makes a delicately fragrant savory bread. We add fried onions to ours – a delicious accompaniment for the winter squash soup and other vegetable soups.
You can substitute up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. It absorbs more water so the dough will be less sticky, and you will need less additional flour for kneading.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2¼ teaspoons (1/4-ounce sachet) active dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon Zaffrus saffron threads or 3 Zaffrus saffron powder capsules
- 3¼ cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour, more as needed
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup milk or almond milk
- 1 pinch Zaffrus saffron threads
- Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and slowly fry over low to medium heat until soft and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a bowl stir yeast, water, and saffron. Let it stand for a few minutes until it becomes frothy or creamy.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture and knead for 3 minutes at low speed, until the dough detaches from the bowl. Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too soft.
- Add the onions and knead until they are just evenly incorporated. Add a little oil to the bowl and turn over the dough so it’s coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and place a dinner plate on top. Let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
- Generously flour a clean work surface, Knead the dough vigorously on a lightly floured surface to compact it and remove any air bubbles. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time.
- Shape the dough into a round loaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover it with a clean dry dish towel and let it proof at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until visibly expanded.
- In the meantime, in a small bowl, soak the saffron threads in the milk.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place a jellyroll pan on the lowest oven rack.
- Strain the saffron milk and discard saffron threads. Brush the bread with the milk.
- Place the baking sheet on center rack of the preheated oven. Pour 1 cup hot water in the jellyroll pan and close the oven door immediately.
- Bake the bread for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and transfer the bread to a wire rack. Let cool before cutting.
Makes 1 loaf
Photo Credit: Ted Rosen