This story is from the fabulous food photographer and blogger behind The Kitchy Kitchen, Claire Thomas! Every month, Claire will be sharing an original recipe inspired by a classic movie. Today, it’s Savory Saffron Buns, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Enjoy!

Recipe Box: Savory Saffron Buns

Hey everyone! Claire here.

“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

The opening line to my favorite ghost story is a good one, isn’t it? Rebecca, the Hitchcock film based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic novel, is a sweeping, psychological thriller about how the past never really leaves you. And I know it sounds cliché—because it is—but Manderley, the estate that provides the backdrop for our story, is as much a character as the unnamed protagonist, her brooding (aka jerk) aristocratic husband Maxim, and the specter of Rebecca, his deceased wife. It’s not until the country estate is devoured by flames that the truth about Rebecca can be revealed. I love this movie so, so hard. It plays with your perception as the story unfolds. So if you enjoyed Gone Girl, you’ll love the twists and turns this classic thriller takes.

Most of du Maurier’s stories take place in Cornwall, along the striking southern cliffs, and Manderley is believed to be set there as well. Not surprising, given the high drama of the cliffs, fog, and sea. So for my recipe inspiration today, I’m making a Cornish classic with a commonwealth spin, and twisting it up more times than even du Maurier would be comfortable doing to her plot: Pumpkin Saffron Rolls with Chai Cream Cheese Glaze.


Saffron buns are a classic Cornish treat, served on religious holidays and Sundays. I love how golden the saffron makes the rolls, and by adding pumpkin, it puts an exclamation point on the bright hue. Saffron has a very unique flavor—sort of earthy, dusty almost, but very nice. It blends beautifully with the chai spices and raisins, making this a unique but delicious post autumn brunch treat. I know what I’m doing this weekend: curling up with a saffron roll and watching Rebecca, dreaming if I’ll go to Manderley again…

Pumpkin Saffron Rolls with Chai Cream Cheese Glaze

Recipe Box: Savory Saffron Buns with Chai Cream Cheese Glaze

For the buns:

  • ½ cup milk (preferably whole)
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • ½ teaspoon saffron (you can use less if you like, it’s expensive)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups all purpose flour (possibly up to 4 ½)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup raisins, seedless

For the chai glaze:

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup white sugar

Recipe Box: Savory Saffron Buns


For the buns:

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the milk (just until it bubbles at the edge), then stir in the saffron, sugar, salt and butter. Take off heat and cool to lukewarm.
  1. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment (or a large bowl if you’re kneading by hand), combine the warm water with the yeast. Let is stand for 5 minutes, until the yeast bubbles and wakes up a bit. Stir in the lukewarm milk mixture, egg and 2 cups flour and beat until smooth. Keep adding flour until it makes a stiff dough (this could be 3 ½ cups to 4 ½ cups). Turn up speed to medium high and kneed for 5 minutes, or until the dough slaps the side of bowl. Place the dough in greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled, about an hour.
  1. Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees. Punch down the dough, cover, and let it rise for 10 more minutes. In a small bowl, combine the raisins, cardamom, and brown sugar.
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about a ½-inch thick and shaped into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle (or thereabouts). Sprinkle with raisin mixture and roll the rectangle lengthwise. Slice out a roll every 2 inches. Pop into a lightly greased baking dish or cast iron skillet (I used a 9 1/2″ oval baking dish), don’t worry if there are gaps, the rolls will rise and fill everything in. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
  1. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, until the rolls bounce back when lightly pressed, and let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes.

For the chai glaze:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved and the cream cheese is fully incorporated.
  2. Let the glaze cool until thick but still pourable. Cover the rolls with chai glaze and serve.

Recipe Box: Savory Saffron Buns

I hope you enjoy this autumn treat. And stay tuned for my next movie + recipe combination coming next month!

What’s your favorite dish to bake in the fall and winter months?

X Claire
The Kitchy Kitchen

Photos: Claire Thomas