Saffron costs a small fortune, and though I have seen seeds & plants catalogues extolling the virtues of growing your own edible crocus, I have also read how tricky it could be with the-foliage-aplenty-and-hardly-any-flowers palaver. But what about the plain garden crocus that grows in abundance almost like a weed in my garden? Granted it probably won't be a superior saffron like the proper one, but if I don't try, I won't know for sure. Especially that I love freebies, and foraging in the garden is a pleasurable quest.
Saffron comes from the saffron crocus or Crocus sativus. What we buy as the spice is actually the red stigmas of the crocus flower.
What I have in the garden is Crocus Tommasinianus. The pretty flowers vary from shimmery pale lilac to darker blue-purple. This crocus is definitely a self-seed variety, as I have never planted any of them, and we moved to the current home over 5 years ago. Many thanks to the previous lady of the house who loved gardening as we have lots of lovely spring flowers like snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses running amok in the garden.
My experiment was to collect some stigmas of the plain crocuses (or croci) and cook with them.
First thing I noticed is the aroma, it is much more subtle than the proper saffron.
I let it dry in an open container for a few days and then stored in the little glass jar.
I have added a tablespoon of vodka to the crocus stigmas and let it infuse for 10 minutes. The colour was sufficiently yellow as you can see (it also stained the plastic bowl. Note to self: the next time to use the ceramic dish).
I meant to put all the ingredients in the breadmaker and let it do the kneading job properly, but after I started the machine, I realised the paddle was missing. Frantic search brought zero results, so I have chucked all the mix on the table and started kneading myself.
To make a bunch of bunny buns, I used
1/2 tsp of yeast
250g strong white flour
1 tsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
About a week ago I've seen lots of pins and re-pins of the buns shaped as bunnies with the instructions on how to use the scissors to cut their ears. Of course, today when I wanted to look at the recipe, I couldn't find any (I should have repinned it myself). Google wasn't helpful, as I found zillions of images from all over, and none the wiser who the original cook was.
So, here is my version of what I've seen on Pinterest (I would have given full credits to whoever invented these bunnies, but I don't know who it is).
The idea is that you cut the ears with the scissors before baking the bunnies.
And here they are, looking more like alien cats than Easter bunnies. Cute nevertheless and tasty too.
Was it worth the effort, foraging in the garden? yes and no. The colour was certainly there, but the flavour was more diffused and less prominent, perhaps I should have tried to add more crocus stigmas. On the bonus side, it was free and I learnt something new.