A fruity yeasted roll, lightly spiced with saffron, integral to the Cornish town of Liskeard. These vegan saffron buns are delicious with butter, either warm from the oven, cold or toasted.
Once upon a time, many years ago, back in the 1960s in fact, or possibly the 1970s, reports are a bit vague, the Mayor stopped handing out the Liskeard Bun. This was an annual event when the newly invested mayor of Liskeard would hand out buns wrapped in brown paper bags to the local children.
What a lovely tradition. Read on to find out about the Great Cornish Bake Off and how we rediscovered the Liskeard Bun.
The Liskeard Bun
Earlier on in the year, rumours were alive that the hunt for the Liskeard Bun was on. The rumours were correct. Two intrepid Liskeard residents did a bit of sleuthing. The baker who used to make it was found, but the recipe remained shrouded in mystery.
A number of people remembered receiving them and described them as a round fruity yeasted bun that may or may not have had saffron in it. A recipe was found in Cousin Jennie’s Cook Book by local author Pamela Pascoe, written in 1976. This may or may not have been the original Liskeard Bun.
Some tough decisions to be made. Photo courtesy of John Heskyth.
Our intrepid sleuths thought it was time to resurrect the Liskeard Bun, or better still, create a new one. The challenge was issued and a new Liskeard Bun was to be announced on the day of Liskeard’s annual Ploughman’s Fair.
Excitingly, I had the fun and responsibility of being one of the three judges. Turns out I got to eat a lot of bun. I was also asked if I would make the saffron buns, Tesen Safron, from Cousin Jennie’s Cook Book for the event. So that’s what I did, but I made them vegan.
Vegan Cornish Saffron Buns
I’ve made Cornish saffron buns before, but these vegan saffron buns are a little different. There’s no chocolate for a start. The ingredients in the original recipe contain both lard and marg, neither of which I like to use. The former because I’m vegetarian and the latter because margarine is a particularly unhealthy fat.
So not only did I scale down the recipe and translate it into grams rather than ounces but I used sunflower oil as the fat. This had the added advantage of making the buns vegan which meant more people can enjoy them. I use my own candied peel, which has a nicer taste and texture than the peel sold in tubs. And of course I adapted the recipe to include some wholemeal flour.
Annoyingly, I didn’t quite get my act together to soak the saffron overnight, so the colour of these buns is more pallid that it otherwise would be.
The Great Cornish Bake Off
The day dawned fair, the town was alive with music and food stalls and three judges stood in the Mayor’s Parlour gazing at the array of fine looking buns wondering how they were ever going to choose a winner. Judging the new Liskeard Bun was a serious affair and we didn’t take our duties lightly. We looked, we prodded, we poked, we tasted, we scored, we discussed.
Bun remnants after the judging was finalised. Photo courtesy of Lorna Shrubsole.
One hour later we’d come to a decision. Well, several decisions; there was an adult category, an under sixteens and a professional one and we had to choose a first, second and third with an optional commended. I may not be Mary Berry, but I had a lot of fun.
Winners, Sleuths, Judges and Mrs Pascoe. Photo courtesy of Lorna Shrubsole
We brought the buns out onto a stall by Liskeard’s Fountain for everyone to taste. Pictures were taken and the winners were announced with much fanfare. Pamela Pascoe, author of the saffron bun recipe I adapted was there to award the top prize of an engraved glass cake stand. That really put the cherry on the cake.
Thanks to our two entrepreneurial sleuths, we now have a new Liskeard bun and the next stage in the story awaits. Watch this space.
Other Recipes for Yeasted Fruit Buns You Might Like
- Chocolate Chelsea buns – Tin and Thyme
- Chocolate cinnamon rolls – Tin and Thyme
- Choc cross buns – Tin and Thyme
- Cornish saffron buns with optional chocolate chips – Tin and Thyme
- Spiced current sourdough buns – Fuss Free Flavours
- Tea cakes with cranberries – Tin and Thyme
- Vegetarian lardy cakes – Tin and Thyme
- Wholemeal apple hot cross buns – Fab Food 4 All
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you bake these vegan saffron buns, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like even more yeasty recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Vegan Cornish Saffron Buns. PIN IT.
Vegan Cornish Saffron Buns – The Recipe
Cornish Saffron Buns (Tesen Safron)
- large pinch of saffron threads
- 50 ml boiling water
- 15 g fresh yeast or 3 tsp dried active yeast
- 200 ml warm water
- 230 g wholemeal flour
- 230 g plain flour
- 50 g golden caster sugar I used cardamom sugar
- good pinch of sea salt
- 100 ml sunflower oil
- 50 g candied peel I used homemade candied peel
- 200 g sultanas or mixed dried fruit
- Place saffron in a small bowl. Cover with the boiling water and leave to steep overnight.
- Warm the 200 ml water so that it's hand hot, then stir in the yeast until it's dissolved.
- Place the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasted water, saffron water and oil, mixing as you go until it comes together as a dough.
- Turn out onto a work surface and knead for a good ten minutes, adding the fruit in towards the end. Alternatively, chuck everything into a stand mixer and let it do the work for you.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel, plate or plastic bag and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
- Knead again for another five minutes or so.
- Divide the dough into 16 pieces and form into rolls.
- Place on a baking tray or in a silicone mould (I used a 23cm (9″) sq silicone cake mould).
- Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
- Bake in the middle of the oven at 200℃ (400℉, Gas 6) for 15-20 minutes, when the buns should be brown on top and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
- Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
I bought the fresh yeast from my local baker which is just a two minute walk away. The wholemeal flour comes from Cotehele Mill, not far away in the Tamar Valley. So, I’m entering these vegan Cornish saffron buns into Shop Local over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
As this was our very own Liskeard Bake Off, I’m going to be cheeky and enter my Liskeard Bun into Treat Petite which is all about The Great British Bake Off, this month. I’m hoping Kat at The Baking Explorer and CakeyBoi will allow it.
Thirdly, my vegan saffron buns go towards the ever groaning table at Tea Time Treats which this month is all about Summer Baking.
Down in these ere parts, the Cornish often refer to saffron buns as saffron cakes. So whilst these vegan saffron buns are not strictly cakes, I’m hoping they’ll be eligible for Love Cake over at JibberJabberUK anyway. The theme is Pack me a Picnic and these buns or cakes are ideal portable picnic fare.