Saffron is a very expensive ingredient, but it goes incredibly far. When just a few threads are infused into butter, the flavour and colour is intense. You can easily make this recipe into a whole cake or into larger cupcakes, if you prefer – just make sure you alter the baking time accordingly. Also, because this recipe is so low in flour, you could easily make it gluten free by subbing in your choice of gluten- free flour.



100g (7⁄8 stick) unsalted butter

1 tsp saffron threads, loosely packed


150g (11⁄3 sticks) butter, softened

180g (6.3oz) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 free range eggs

200g (7.1oz) ground almonds

50g (1.8oz) plain or spelt flour

Pinch sea salt

70g (2.5oz) sultanas


100g (7⁄8 stick) butter, softened

200g (7.1oz) icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g (3.5oz) cream cheese


50g (1.8oz) almond flakes, toasted

  1. First, make the saffron-infused butter. In a small saucepan over a low heat, melt the saffron threads into the butter. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, then take off the heat and set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F on fan bake. Grease 24-30 holes of a mini cupcake tray very well.

  3. Next, make the cakes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.

  4. Fold through the ground almonds, flour and salt until just combined. Next, mix in the sultanas. Finally, fold through half of the melted saffron-infused butter. Stop your mixer once all the ingredients are combined, taking care not to overmix.

  5. Divide the batter evenly between the mini cupcake holes and smooth out to the sides. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes are golden in colour, springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in their centres comes out clean.

  6. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

  7. Meanwhile, make the icing. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter plus the remaining saffron- infused butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the cream cheese until smooth.

  8. Once the cakes are fully cooled, pipe or use a spoon to dollop some icing onto each one. Top off with a scattering of toasted almond flakes. Serve at room temperature.

  9. Store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to three days.