Tag Archives: Cornish


Saffron bread and butter pudding

It’s St Piran’s day on Thursday! This means I get to spend the day generally being smug about coming from the best place on the planet (yes, I have checked that.) It also means that I get to have a pasty for my dinner (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/pasties/) and, if there’s room, some of this for pudding. This is a pretty classic bread and butter pudding but the saffron adds a very subtle flavour to it and makes a nice change to the usual vanilla and nutmeg combination.

Saffron bread & butter pudding
I got quite excited recently when I learnt that there’s a place in the Chesapeake bay where the residents speak with a Cornish accent due to their Cornish heritage. Having found a clip on YouTube I don’t think they really sound particularly Cornish but they do have a St Piran’s cross on their town flag! I’d still quite like to visit it to find out if they have pasties though (unless they put carrots in them, which would be an abomination.)
Whilst I was bouncing around Google learning things about Tangier Island I also learnt that there are quite a few well-known Americans with Cornish heritage including Mark Twain, whose family were from Looe, which isn’t far from where I grew up!

So Gool Peran Lowen everyone!

Saffron bread & butter pudding

If you live in the UK then you can probably just go and buy a saffron loaf but if you can’t get a ready-made one then use my recipe for saffron buns and just bake them into a loaf. Here it is.. https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/cornish-saffron-buns/ How convenient is that?

serves 6

1 saffron loaf
30g ish butter
2 eggs
35g sugar
150ml milk
80ml cream
1 tbsp dark rum
pinch of saffron

Warm the rum a little and steep the saffron strands in it for five minutes or so.
Grease your baking dish and preheat the oven to 190°c.
Slice the saffron loaf into thick slices and butter them on one side. Lay the slices into the dish so that they overlap, butter side up.
Whisk together the eggs and the sugar and then add in the milk, cream and the rum/saffron infusion. Pour this over the prepared slices of loaf and then let it sit for about five minutes to absorb the liquid a little. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake it for 35 mins. The top should be golden and crusty once it’s done and the custard should be largely set. Serve warm with clotted cream (naturally.)

bSaffron bread & butter pudding


Leave a comment

Filed under Baking

Gool Peran Lowen!



Happy St Piran’s Day!

St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall and tin miners and 5th of March is Cornwall’s national day. It’s a day of celebration back home and Cornish people are very (and rightly so) proud of their culture and heritage so it seems appropriate to offer up some traditional Cornish treats…





I think we’ll have pasties for dinner and fairings for ‘afters’ as we say in Cornwall! If I could source a pint of Doom Bar to wash it down with then Mr Colonial Cravings would be a very happy man…

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking


I am definitely starting to feel the chill in the weather now, although I have it on good authority that it is not yet as nippy as it is back home, which is of some comfort.


Not as much comfort however as curling up on a drizzly afternoon with a cup of tea and a toasted sunny yellow saffron bun.

These are made with sweetened dough enriched with milk but they are far denser in texture than something like a brioche or even a teacake. The saffron largely adds colour but there is a subtle hint of it’s flavour amidst the sweetness of the dried fruit. If you can, use mixed dried fruit for these (the kind with the peel in it) as they really benefit from the extra citrus tang.
Saffron buns are another treat that you can find everywhere back home, they aren’t even limited to Cornwall, but they don’t seem to have achieved global expansion, although I believe they are a Christmas treat in Scandinavia.

Having consulted the Cornish oracle that is my dad I have learnt that no one (not even him) knows exactly why they are so unique to Cornwall but it is probable that saffron was traded for tin by the Phoenicians. I’m not sure that fully explains why something as valuable as saffron ended up in a tea-time treat! He also told me that he knew a lady when he was growing up who made the best saffron cake ever, but then he hasn’t tried mine!

Makes 8


300g strong white flour
25g sugar
120g mixed dried fruit
65g butter
1 tsp yeast
pinch saffron
pinch salt
120ml approximately warm milk

Crush the saffron and steep in 1 tbsp freshly boiled water. The longer you can leave it the better, you’ll get more colour into the buns this way.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter lightly with your finger tips. Next mix through the sugar and salt so that they are well distributed. Then stir through the yeast. Finally scatter in the fruit and give the whole lot a big stir.
Drizzle over the saffron and water and mix this in (a butter knife is the best tool for the job here.)
Add the milk, a little a bit at a time, until the whole lot comes together and you have a ball of soft dough. You may not need all of the milk. Gently knead for a few minutes. Because these are relatively dense the gluten doesn’t need much stretching out, so you don’t need to work it as much as a bread dough.

Wash and dry the mixing bowl, making it nice and warm. Lightly grease it and return the dough to it. Cover with cling film and leave to rise until it has doubled in volume.

Once the dough as expanded you can roll it into a fat sausage shape and cut it into eight even pieces. Take the chunks of dough and roll them into buns.
Place the buns on a greased and lightly floured tray. Cover with the cling film again and leave them to rise again, it doesn’t matter if they join up a bit.
Pre-heat the oven to 210°c whilst they rise. Brush the buns with milk and bake for about 20 minutes until they are browned slightly on top.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

If you’re lucky, and you get up before my dad you sometimes get these toasted and slathered with butter for breakfast at my parents house. Utterly yummy!


Filed under Baking


Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

This is a reusable bag that I made for a friends Birthday. I needed a small gift that I could send home as I am making her wait for her main present until she comes to visit.  She’s a fellow Cornish girl so has an inherent love of the sea and all things coastal and nautical.

I had lots of bluish-coloured scraps of fabric left over from various other projects so waves seemed like the logical pattern to use. I lined the bag to make it a little stronger and cover up the stitching at the back of the applique. Obviously the bag didn’t need an actual pattern so I just took the dimensions from one of my own bags.

Now she only has to wait a few more weeks for her main gift…

Leave a comment

November 4, 2013 · 4:01 pm


It is Mr Colonial Cravings turn to provide his contribution to his offices ‘cookie-club’. Obviously when I say it is his turn I mean that it is my turn, and I don’t mind in the slightest. Any excuse for a big batch of biscuit making.

It appears that come October everything that you consume in the USA, in any form, is obliged to be flavoured with something mysteriously known only as pumpkin spice. Coffee, cakes, biscuits, candles and even lip balm! I’ve decided to buck the trend slightly with my own spicy offerings – Cornish Fairings.


Whilst this is a taste of home it’s not actually something that I ever eat when I’m back in Cornwall. This is probably largely due to them generally being mass produced and packed in Emmett-friendly boxes embellished with pictures of St Ives. (Emmett, for the un-initiated amongst you, is the Cornish equivalent of the word Muggle. It means non-Cornish folk.)
The recipe calls for golden syrup, which isn’t impossible to find in the USA but is very expensive compared to the price in the UK. Because I only need a couple of table spoons I made my own, which isn’t hard but is a bit of a faff and takes some of the spontaneity out of biscuit making.

Fairings are a lovey thing to make at this time of year, just working with the sweetly spiced soft dough should be enough to lift your spirits on a gloomy day. Soft and chewy whilst warm these become crisp and crunchy once they’ve cooled and will keep pretty well in an airtight container. They would make a nice little gift at Christmas – wrapped in waxed paper and ribbon, without a picture postcard in sight!

Makes 20-30

175g plain flour
50g soft light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp lemon juice


Pre-heat your oven to 180°c.
Sift the flour with the raising agents. Add in the spices and the sugars and use a whisk to mix it all together well.
Using a small pan gently melt together the butter, syrup and lemon juice. Don’t let it get too hot, you don’t want to burn the sugars in the syrup.

Carefully pour this into the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon, resulting in a wonderfully soft warm dough.
Pull off small chunks of dough and gently roll them into little nuggets, placing them onto a lined baking sheet. Make sure that they are spaced well apart as they will spread a tad. Squish each one a little with a knife, don’t worry if the edges crack.

Bake for 10 minutes, by which time they should be golden brown and your kitchen should smell amazing.
Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely and become crisp.
Now pop the kettle on because these are perfect for dunking….


I feel that I should confess to eating at least five of these whilst writing this post, but that’s just between us…



Filed under Baking



So now I have a fridge full of clotted cream and a larder full of jam all I need is a vehicle to get them to my mouth with. Whilst I’m not above simply using a spoon to do this I thought that. just this once, I would stick with tradition and make scones. (Scones, by the way, to rhyme with bones.)

When I was little my mum used to make scones if we ever had any milk which had been neglected and gone sour. Her cheese scones were a gluttonous treat often devoured smothered in butter so it’s probably a good job that we didn’t often let milk go sour!

To accompany my cream and jam though I think plain scones will do the job. As I said, sour milk is the key as the acidity helps to create little carbon dioxide bubbles which will all add to your scones lift. Don’t worry though, I don’t expect you to dice with death by leaving your daily pint out on the doorstep all day. Here on the other side of the pond buttermilk is very easy to find so use that if you can get it, otherwise just squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the milk before you start.



Makes 15ish depending on the size of your cutter

500g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

10g sugar (plus a little extra to finish off)

75g salted butter

300ml of buttermilk/milk soured with lemon


Pre-heat the oven to 200°c. Sift the flour and the raising agents together into a large mixing bowl – this will help to get a little extra air into you scones. Now mix the sugar through. Cut the butter into small pieces and then rub this into the dry mix with your fingertips. Once this starts to resemble bread crumbs you can add the liquid, a little at a time. I find it easiest to use something like a butter knife to mix it with. all flours are different so don’t worry if you don’t need to use quite all the liquid or if you need to add a little bit more.

Once the mix has absorbed all the liquid you should have a nice soft pliable ball of dough. Put this on a lightly floured surface and gently pat it out flat until it is about 1 inch thick. You can use a rolling pin if you prefer but try not to overwork the gluten in the dough or you’ll end up with tough scones.


I’ve always been taught that the trick to getting well risen scones is not to twist the cutter when you stamp them out. So with this in mind place the cutter on the surface of the dough and give it one quick sharp tap down to cut out the scones. Repeat this, re-rolling the dough as needed, until it is all used and place the scones on a greased baking tray. Brush the top of the scones with a little more milk or buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake them for 12-15 minutes (depending on how greedy you’ve been with the size) until they are golden.

Leave to cool on a rack before topping generously with jam and cream. Or cream and jam depending on which side of the River Tamar you’re on.

scones & clotted cream


Filed under Baking


Something else that I simply couldn’t spend the next three years without! A staple in my family, eaten on everything from cornflakes and porridge to Christmas cake. My Dad even claims to have eaten it on a lettuce leaf – allegedly a Cornish delicacy but I’m not so sure that I’d push it that far.

It’s dangerously simple to make but does take a little bit of forward planning.  Having said that however it’s not really possible to get truly authentic results of this side of the Atlantic but what follows is the closest approximation that I have managed. It’s spot on for texture but the favour is sometimes a touch reminiscent of creme frâiche but this does vary depending where the cream comes from.


Double or whipping cream (heavy cream here in the US) You need something with quite a high fat content and non-homogenised will give the best results.

A little full fat milk (to help the cream float) I use about a 1:4 ratio.

I haven’t put quantities here because you can make as much or as little as you want, it really all depends on the size of dish that you use. It isn’t really worth doing though with less that 500ml of cream.

Pour the milk and cream into a large shallow baking dish and let it stand in the fridge for about 12 hours. This allows the fat in the cream to rise to the surface. After the 12 hours put your oven onto its lowest possible setting. Cover the cream with foil and place it in a bain marie. Then very carefully (you don’t want to agitate the cream) place this in the oven and leave it for a further 12 hours or so. I do mine overnight. Obviously this is most safely done if you have an oven (preferably electric) with an automatic shut off.

You may want to carefully check it after about 10 hours because I sometimes find that it helps the crust form if you give it a couple hours without the foil covering. You definitley want a crust but you don’t want a skin. When you can see that the cream has a nice butter-like crust and that clots have started to form below remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool.

When it’s down to room temperature place it in the fridge to get really cold. At this stage all you need to do is skim off the thickened cream on the surface using a slotted spoon and transfer it to a tub for storage.

It’ll keep for good few days and freezes really well. Eat with absolutely anything and everything. (Okay maybe not lettuce)

1 Comment

Filed under Baking