Orange Saffron Quick Bread
This quick bread recipe is given an extravagant edge with the simple addition of saffron! The brightness of fresh orange juice pairs well with the sweet, floral, and earthy flavor of saffron. Baked in mini loaf pans, this recipe makes enough for you to enjoy and share with friends!
We love serving this tea with a pot of afternoon tea. It also makes an indulgent breakfast!
What is a Quick Bread?
Making bread can seem daunting. Yeast, kneading, lots of time – we get it. It’s a science that just seems overwhelming.
Don’t give up on bread just yet! Quick bread is a simple version of bread that does not require yeast. That means it's easy and quick to whip together a loaf of bread just about any day.
Quick bread is any bread leavened (or made to raise) without yeast.
Quick bread can be simply mixed together and popped into the oven.
Quick bread can be successfully made by even a beginner baker.
So preheat the oven, pull out your favorite mixing bowl, and let’s get baking!
Saffron. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. The stamen of a crocus flower, this spice must be handpicked. Only one harvest a year is possible and it takes about 70,000 crocuses to make up one pound of saffron.
What does saffron taste like? The flavor is unique. Floral and sweet while at the same time earthy, it’s a spice without a substitute. And the good news is that it takes just a small amount to give this recipe its saffron flavor. Use just ½ teaspoon divided between the batter and the glaze.
Flour. This recipe calls for 1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour. This makes the bread light and fluffy. Of course, you could substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. This will give your bread a dense texture with nutty undertones.
Baking Soda. Baking soda is what makes this quick bread instead of yeast bread. It provides the rise.
Salt. What does salt do in bread? In quick bread, salt is important as it helps to activate the baking soda which gives the bread its rise. Salt also helps to tighten the gluten strands in the bread. So though it seems odd to add salt to sweet bread, salt adds an important piece to the quick bread magic.
Orange. This recipe calls for the juice and peel of 4 oranges. If need be, pre-squeezed orange juice can be substituted, but fresh-squeezed orange juice really does make a difference in this recipe. Be sure to zest your oranges before cutting them to juice them.
Vanilla. Vanilla complements and lifts the floral flavors of saffron. If you wish to use vanilla bean instead of extract, substitute ¼ of the caviar from a vanilla bean. You don’t want the vanilla flavor to overpower the flavor of the saffron.
Sour Cream. Sour cream adds a tang that nicely balances out the sweetness in this recipe. It also adds acid to the batter which again helps to activate the baking soda. If you don’t have sour cream, you can substitute buttermilk or yogurt.
Oil. Any kind of oil will work in this recipe. We enjoy the depth that extra-virgin olive oil adds to this recipe.
Sugar. This recipe calls for both granulated sugar and powdered sugar. If you would like to use a different sugar keep in mind that may alter the texture of this quick bread. If you don’t have powdered sugar, go ahead and use granulated sugar. Grind it in your blender to change the texture. With this granulated sugar, the glaze will be a bit more like a simple syrup, but will still be delicious.
Egg. This recipe calls for one egg. If you need to create an egg-free bread, you can substitute flax seed for the egg.
Flax Seed Egg
1 tablespoon freshly ground raw flaxseed
2 ½ tablespoons of water
Add flaxseed and water to a small bowl. Stir well. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to the recipe in place of egg.
A flax seed egg won’t provide the same kind of fluffiness as an egg but still makes a lovely tasty quick bread.
Quick bread is easy to make and an excellent way into the baking world for beginners. A few things to consider:
Have all your ingredients ready before beginning. As soon as you add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients, you’ll want to get your bread into the oven within 5 minutes.
Work with dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Just like it sounds, combine your dry ingredients in the same bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a different bowl. Don’t combine the two until your oven is properly preheated and your pans are greased and ready to go.
Adding your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients will activate the baking soda. At that point, you need to get the batter into the pan and into the oven relatively quickly.
Using saffron. The saffron needs to steep in a liquid to release all of its flavors. Do not skip the step of steeping the saffron in the orange juice. The recipe calls for steeping for at least 30 minutes. It’s not a bad idea to even steep it for a few hours or overnight (in the refrigerator). We’ve also made the glaze ahead of time and allowed it to steep overnight with excellent results.
Can this be muffins or a full-sized loaf of bread?
Yes! We like to make it in our mini loaf pans, but quick bread batter and muffin batter are the same things! So this batter can easily be cooked in a muffin tin. Add ½ cup batter to each muffin tin – which is oiled well–and bake for 15 - 17 minutes.
For a full-sized loaf, add batter to a 9-inch loaf pan and bake for 45 - 60 minutes.
Testing for doneness. This quick bread recipe is fully cooked when you poke it with a skewer or knife and the skewer or knife comes out clean. You can also gently touch the top of the bread. If the bread indents just barely and then bounces back, it is done. If touching leaves an indentation, it needs more time backing. If you would like to check with a thermometer, the center should cook to 210°F.
Orange Saffron Quick Bread Recipe
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon Pacific Flake Sea Salt
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from 2 oranges
Juice from 2 oranges (about ½ cup)
¼ teaspoon Saffron
1 cup sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar
Zest from 2 oranges
Juice from 2 oranges
¼ teaspoon Saffron
Zest 2 oranges and set aside zest. Juice those same oranges. Add ¼ teaspoon saffron to the orange juice. Allow to sit and steep for at least 30 minutes. If you allow it to steep for longer than 60 minutes, steep in the refrigerator.
After the saffron is done steeping, preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil your pan/pans.
Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda together. This is your dry ingredients. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together juice and zest from oranges with saffron, oil, egg, vanilla, and sour cream. These are your wet ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
Divide evenly between 3 - 4 mini loaf pans. Fill each pan about ¾ full.
On a sheet pan, slide your mini loaf pans into the oven. Bake at 350°F for 25 - 35 minutes or until a skewer or knife inserted into the bread comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the glaze ingredients. Whisk until smooth. This should be done at least 30 minutes before glazing to allow the saffron to release its flavors. It can be made as much as 24 hours ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Dip the mini loaf tops into the glaze and set on a cooling rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set for 20 minutes. Dip again if desired.
If you enjoy learning about and cooking with new spices like saffron, SpiceScription might be for you! It’s a monthly subscription featuring one spice each month with exclusive recipes that will help you learn to bring the featured flavors into your kitchen!