The last time I saw my mother-in-law she gave us some of the best saffron in the world – Iranian saffron. Between 80%-90% of the worlds saffron comes from Iran, making it the biggest producer in the world. The red stamens are picked by hand from the crocus flower that blooms for a few weeks each autumn and as it takes more than 150,000 stamens to make one kilogram suitable for sale making it one of the most expensive spices in the world. Believed to improve depression, fight cancer, promote memory retention, relieve colds and increase libido, saffron is great for our health. The distinct flavour and colour of Iran’s red gold is usually ground and mixed with hot water before being added to dishes of chicken and rice and ghormeh sabzi, a herby stew of lamb and red kidney beans. This year as our family prepared to celebrate Eid with friends (the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting) I turned a humble biscuit into something special for the occasion – a fragrant golden saffron buttercream melting moment.
For the melting moment
- 180g butter
- 60g icing sugar
- 60g custard powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 180g plain flour
For the buttercream
- 100g butter
- 1 generous pinch of Iranian saffron
- 1 cup icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Line two trays with baking paper.
Either by hand or an electric mixer cream the butter until soft and light in colour.
Add icing sugar and custard powder, mixing until just combined.
Add the baking powder and flour and mix well.
Roll dough into small walnut sized balls and place onto baking trays.
Press down on each ball with a fork to leave an indent. Tip: to prevent the dough from sticking to the fork, dip the fork in flour and tap off the excess before using.
Bake the biscuits for 16 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool a little on trays before transferring them to a wire rack for cooling.
For the buttercream
In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron with a pinch of icing sugar until a coarse powder is formed.
In a small saucepan gently melt the butter, adding the saffron powder and mix well. Then allow the saffron butter to cool and set.
Once the butter is set to room temperature add the icing sugar and whisk it by hand or by electric beater with icing sugar until a light, fluffy buttercream is achieved.
To assemble, pipe buttercream in a circle on the base of a biscuit. Gently press another biscuit onto the buttercream, sandwiching the two together.