The summer may be well upon you in other locations, but here in the Pacific Northwest, the Dark has already risen. Fight back, ye of the rainy climes, with a bright yellow teatime treat from Susan Cooper’s classic The Dark is Rising series: Cornish Saffron Cake.

Recipe courtesy of The Green Chronicle:

1lb plain flour
6oz butter, margarine or lard
6oz sugar
6oz currants, sultanas
1 1/2 oz of mixed, diced, candied citrus peel (lemon or orange)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1oz yeast or 1 sachet of dried yeast
1 drachm saffron (or, 1/8 of an oz.)
warm milk and water to mix


Overnight put saffron to infuse by snipping the strands and cover with half a cup of boiling water and a small pinch of salt. Cover with a saucer. Put yeast into cup with a teaspoon of sugar and add half a cup of warm milk and water – not too hot but more than tepid so as not to kill the yeast. Rub fat into the flour until it resembles coarse meal, then add sugar and mix together. When the yeast has risen in the cup, make a pit in the centre of the flour and sugar mix and pour in the yeast, covering with a sprinkle of flour (this keeps the temperature constant). When this cracks and the yeast sponges through, warm the previously steeped saffron mixture a little and add together with fruit and peel and start combining all the ingredients together adding extra liquid as you go until the whole thing makes a soft dough without being too sticky. Cover this with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm (not too hot) place to rise. This takes between 30-45 minutes. Put into greased loaf tins, cover and leave to rise again until the mixture is level with the top of the tin. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees centigrade) for 3/4 – 1 hour. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy in a secret room behind a wardrobe.