Butter cake

Butter cake

1 h
Indulge in saffron-infused butter cake that is so tender and moist that it will melt in your mouth. The aromatic saffron adds colour and sweet flavour to the moist and delicate-flavoured butter cake, making it a scrumptious treat that you will not be able to resist. Our recipe is simple, and you only need a few but well-picked ingredients. The golden-coloured saffron cake will impress both family and friends with its beautiful look, being rolled up with a layer of butter and marzipan, cut into smaller rolls and baked in a springform pan so it comes together in a beautiful, swirled way when baking. Enjoy the cake with a cup of strong coffee to complement the sweet, buttery flavour.


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C – traditional oven.
  • Heat milk until warm (approx. 37°C). Pour it into a bowl and crumble yeast into it.
  • Add butter, saffron, sugar, salt, and flour.
  • Knead the dough well until it is elastic. Let it rise, covered, for approx. 15 minutes. Roll out the dough to approx. 30 x 30 cm – 1-1½ cm thick.
  • Spread the butter on the dough sheet and sprinkle with marzipan.
  • Roll the dough into a log and cut out 3-4 cm thick slices.
  • Place them (approx. 8 slices) in a greased springform pan (approx. 22 cm in diameter).
  • Let the cake rise, covered, for approx. ½ hour.
  • Brush with egg and bake at the bottom of the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

You want there to be no doubt that you are serving a saffron cake. So, to extract as much of the characteristic colour and flavour as possible, soak the saffron threads in ½ tsp hot water for at least 10 minutes before mixing it with the other ingredients. You can also let it soak in 50 ml of cognac as saffron goes very well with alcohol. It will add a fantastic depth to the cake.


Make sure you store your freshly baked saffron butter cake in an airtight container or wrap it with cling film to keep the cake moist and prevent it from drying out. If stored properly, the cake can stay well in the fridge for a couple of days and still taste delicious.


Since this butter cake contains yeast, when heating the milk, it is crucial that it has the right temperature as the yeast thrives in warm temperatures. If the milk is too hot (over 45°C), it will kill the yeast, making it ineffective, which means the dough will not rise or have the right texture typical for butter cake.

Questions about butter cake

Our moist and gooey butter cake with saffron is delicious and tenderly sweet. With our easy recipe, you will be able to indulge in a slice of cake in no time. Read below and find out how to make this saffron-flavoured treat and other useful information about this cake.

What is butter cake?
A butter cake is a simple cake made with basic ingredients such as sugar, eggs, flour, and of course, butter. The traditional butter cake originated from the pound cake as they use many of the same ingredients and are slightly similar in texture. In our butter cake recipe, we use yeast as the leavening agent, giving it more flavour and a lighter, airer texture with a moist and fluffy crumb, and because of the added saffron, it has some delicious subtle floral notes, too.
How to make butter cake with saffron?
Making a butter cake with saffron is pretty straightforward and only requires a few ingredients. Heat up your milk and crumble the yeast into it. Add all the dry ingredients, including the saffron and knead the dough well. Let it rise for approx. 15 minutes and roll out the dough, spreading butter on the dough and sprinkle with marzipan. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into slices. Finally, place the slices in a springform pan and let the cake rise for another 30 minutes before baking it at 200°C for 25-30 minutes. To get more out of ‘the red gold’, soak the saffron for at least 10 minutes to extract maximum flavour and colour before adding it to the other ingredients. In addition, remember to let the dough rise as recommended, since this is what gives our butter saffron cake its characteristic crumb and texture.
What is a yeast cake?
A yeast cake contains yeast which provides flavour and a different, even better, crumb. The yeast converts the cake’s sugar into carbon dioxide, making it lift and expand when left to rise. This process gives the cake a soft and spongy texture and a delicious crumb as well as added flavour compared to using baking powder or soda.
Can you freeze butter cake?
Yes, you can freeze butter cake whole or in slices – or roll, if you tear the cake, baked in rolls, apart for serving. If you store the cake properly, it will retain its moist and gooey texture. When freezing the butter cake, make sure it is completely cool before wrapping it tightly in cling film and a double layer of foil. Place the wrapped cake in an airtight container or sealable freezer bag and put it in the freezer. When you want to enjoy the leftovers, let it thaw overnight in the fridge and, if you want to serve it warm, reheat it in the oven for up to 10 minutes at 150-160°C. It should not be hot, but warm, so make sure not to leave it for too long.


¼ litre
25 g
Soft butter
75 g
¼ tsp
3 tbsp
Coarse salt
¼ tsp
Wheat flour
425 g
Soft butter
25 g
Grated pure, raw marzipan
100 g
Brush with eggs

Soft butter cake with saffron

Butter cake is moist and tender with a light and fluffy crumb, but we added a little twist to an old-fashioned cake. Discover the delicate flavour in our saffron butter cake that is melt-in-your-mouth divine with an irresistible butter-marzipan filling. This saffron-flavoured treat adds colour and sweet floral notes to the buttery cake. An easy treat, perfect for every occasion!

Try a timeless classic for other buttery soft cakes with our simple recipe for a pound cake or a delicious marble cake combining chocolate and vanilla. Another tasty classic is our soft and gooey cinnamon rolls served with a cup of coffee.

Saffron cake – enjoy baking with the red gold

Saffron is also called ‘the red gold’ as it is one of the most expensive and fine spices in the world. It takes thousands of crocus flowers just to obtain 1 kg of the exotic spice. Luckily, a little goes a long way, so you only need a few threads to flavour your saffron cake. With floral, subtly earthy notes and a vibrant yellow colour, a saffron cake takes a regular, easy butter cake to the next level; it is an absolute delight. The aromatic saffron flavour pairs well with the marzipan and adds sweetness to the cake.

Discover the delicious gooey butter cake

If you have ever tried a traditional German yeast cake (also called German butter cake) or a St. Louis-based ooey gooey butter cake, our recipe for butter cake will seem very similar to either of these. In a way, our butter saffron cake is a slight mix of these two cakes, and yeast is a common denominator. However, instead of adding small lumps of butter to the dough, in our recipe, the butter is spread onto the dough in a thin layer just like you would do with a cinnamon roll. Also, it is worth noting that the gooey butter cake is somewhat flatter and denser, almost brownie-like, compared to a German butter cake and our butter saffron cake, which features a light, buttery, silky-smooth texture.

Using yeast in cake

Ever heard about using yeast in cake? The leavening agent is normally associated with baking bread, but it is also, sometimes, used to create delicious, special kinds of cake. Yeast plays a vital part in creating a fluffy cake with a slightly crumbly texture. The fermentation process causes the yeast to convert the cake’s sugar into carbon dioxide, which expands and makes the cake rise. In addition, fermentation adds some flavour to the cake that you would not get from, for example, baking powder or soda. Just like baking yeasted bread, a yeast cake will need to rise in room-temperature to rise like it should.

Make it your own

You can leave out the saffron and add freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice and zest to give the butter cake a spark of citrus. Flourish the cake with an icing sugar glaze and add lemon or orange juice to the glaze to balance the sweetness. For a final touch, garnish with lemon or orange zest.

Saffron is often considered a Christmas spice. So, this cake can also be made into a fantastic Christmas cake by adding other traditional Christmas flavours. Simply add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, cardamon, and ginger to the batter before baking.

If you do not have saffron to make this exquisite saffron cake, and since the ingredient can be quite expensive, you can substitute it with safflower or turmeric. However, safflower is relatively mild in flavour compared to saffron and differs slightly in colour. While turmeric and saffron are similar in colour, they differ in taste as turmeric has a more bitter flavour. So, if you substitute saffron, you may want to adjust the amount of spice added to the dough.