Swe-dishes: SwedishFood.com’s Saffron Wreath

Photos via John Duxbury

Food & Drink

Swe-dishes: SwedishFood.com’s Saffron Wreath


This week’s recipe comes from SwedishFood.com, which was started by John Duxbury.

We at Umgås love to eat. And over the first year of our online magazine, we’ve met so many terrific chefs, cooks and foodies that we thought it would be fun to share some of their favorite recipes.

Just in time for the holidays, we bring you a Saffron Wreath recipe from John Duxbury of SwedishFood.com.

According to Duxbury, “This is my favorite bread to bake during Advent—a lovely saffron scented dough filled with candied orange peel and raisins and shaped into a wreath. Perfect for a leisurely breakfast or brunch.”


  • The saffron wreath will puff up a lot when it is baked, so you will need a very large plate or board if you want to put it on display! (The plate shown above is 13″ in diameter and the wreath only just fits on it!)
  • If you prefer an almond filling, replace the marmalade, raisins and the orange peel with 150 g of grated mandelmassa (almond paste).
  • Use baking parchment to make it easier to transfer the wreath to a wire rack to cool.
  • This recipe is based on using a stand mixer. If you want to make it by hand, increase the amount of flour to 550 g, melt the butter with the milk and increase the kneading time to 10 minutes.


  • 4 g saffron threads, 1 packet
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tbsp. vodka
  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 500+ g strong (bread) white flour, or AP flour
  • 100 g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 7 g “fast action” dried yeast, 1 packet
  • 300 g* milk
  • 90 g unsalted (sweet) butter, softened

*We recommend using digital scales and measuring in grams.

Filling and decoration

  • 40 g softened butter
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 100 g orange marmalade
  • 50 g raisins
  • 50 g candied orange peel, optional
  • 2 tsp almond flakes (slivers), optional
  • 1 tsp pearl sugar, optional

Saffron Wreath Instructions:

  1. saffron-vodkaPlace the saffron threads in a mortar with the salt and grind with the pestle until evenly mixed. Pour over the vodka and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place 500 g of the flour in the stand-mixer’s bowl. Stir in the sugar and the dried yeast.
  3. Heat the milk until warm, between 95ºF to 105ºF. Add the saffron mixture and half of the beaten egg, reserving the rest of the egg for glazing.
  4. Fit the dough hook to your stand-mixer, and with the machine running on the low, slowly add the milk mixture.
  5. Increase the speed and add the softened butter, a bit at a time. Do this very slowly, taking about 3 minutes. If the mixture looks too wet, add a tablespoon of flour.
  6. Continue to knead, slowly adding additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a nice soft dough. The idea is to add as little flour as possible until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it. The exact amount to add varies, but you will normally need 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour. Once you have added enough flour, continue to knead for another 2 or 3 minutes. (The dough is unlikely to form a ball, which is why it needs finishing by hand – see step 7.)
  7. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Clean out the bowl, lightly oil it and then return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, a shower cap or a cloth and leave in a warm draft-free place for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
  8. Mix the butter and cardamom for the filling.
  9. Saffron wreathTip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, knock it back a couple of times and then roll it out to a rectangle (about 18″ x 12″).

(If you are having difficulty getting the dough to keep its shape, leave it for 5 minutes before trying again as the dough needs time to relax while you are forming it. If you want an even wreath, trim the sides and use the off-cuts to make some saffron buns, but I don’t normally bother.)

  1. Spread the butter and cardamom mixture over the dough, then the marmalade and finally sprinkle raisins and candied orange peel (optional) over the top.
  2. Carefully roll the dough up lengthwise, with the seam on the bottom, transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and shape into a circle.Saffron wreath
  3. Using a pair of scissors, cut most of the way through the dough, cutting on a slant. After each cut, pull the dough out or push it into the center of the circle to expose the filling, alternating as you go around the circle. Make between 12 and 20 cuts, but because it will puff up a lot when it is baked, you don’t need to be very neat or worry about doing it evenly.
  4. Cover lightly with a cloth and set in a warm area for about 40 minutes, until the dough is nicely puffed up again.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  6. Brush the dough with the remaining beaten egg, sprinkle with almond flakes (optional) and pearl sugar (optional) and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown with a slight caramelization on the top. Leave the saffron wreath to cool on a wire rack.

John Duxbury enjoys cooking Swedish food and went to the trouble of learning Swedish so he could read Swedish cookbooks. The love affair with Swedish food started as a result of numerous visits to Sweden when he was working with Swedish students. When he retired from teaching he decided to set up http://www.swedishfood.com so other people with an interest in Swedish cooking could benefit from his work.

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