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Saffron bread

  • 2 pinches of saffron strands
  • 280ml of water
  • 500g of white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 120g of fermented bread dough
  • 30g of fresh yeast
  • 15g of soft butter
  • 1 tsp organic bread improver
  • 20g of salt

Smoked duck

Saffron breadcrumbs

Duck eggs


To make the saffron bread, put the saffron strands and tepid water together in a bowl and leave to infuse for 10 minutes
Combine the bread flour, fermented dough, yeast, butter and bread improver in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir in the saffron liquid
  • 500g of white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 120g of fermented bread dough
  • 30g of fresh yeast
  • 15g of soft butter
  • 1 tsp organic bread improver
Mix for 5-6 minutes, using the dough hook, then add the salt and mix for 1 more minute, until a smooth dough is formed
Transfer to a floured bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm, dry place for 20 minutes
Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, knock back and place in a loaf tin. Leave to prove again in a warm, dry place until the dough has tripled in size, about an hour
Preheat the oven to 240°C/Gas mark 9, or its highest setting
Shape the risen dough into a round loaf and bake on a tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top
Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Cut four 75g slices from the loaf ready to make the saffron breadcrumbs and reserve the remaining loaf for wrapping the asparagus
To prepare the duck, mix together the sea salt, sugar, orange zest and five spice in a bowl, then rub the mixture all over the duck breasts. Leave to marinate for 2 hours in the fridge
To make the saffron breadcrumbs, tear the sliced bread into small pieces
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, then fry the bread pieces for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crisp
  • 40ml of olive oil
Sprinkle over the caster sugar, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the fried bread to a tray and allow to cool
Once the fried bread has cooled, pulse it to rough crumbs in a food processor. Measure out 250g to coat the duck eggs, and reserve the rest for serving
To cook the duck eggs, bring a large pan of water to the boil and get ready a large bowl of ice-cold water
Boil the eggs for 3-4 minutes (for soft-boiled) then drain and plunge into the iced water for 1-2 minutes. Peel the eggs and drain them on kitchen paper
Put the flour and saffron breadcrumbs in separate dishes and beat the hen’s egg and milk together in a bowl
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 20ml of milk
Dredge each duck egg in flour, then dip into the beaten egg and roll in the saffron breadcrumbs. Place on a tray and chill until needed
Wash the marinade off the duck breasts and pat dry with kitchen paper
Head outside to smoke the duck. Put your oak chippings in a large pan or wok and rest a wire rack or trellis on top. Carefully light the chippings with a blowtorch, then allow the fire to burn out
When the chippings are just smouldering, lay the duck breasts on the rack and cover the pan with a large wet tea towel
Leave to smoke for 10-12 minutes, or until the duck is cooked through. Remove the duck, leave it to cool, then wrap in cling film and chill until needed
To cook the asparagus, snap off the woody ends and peel the stalks
Blanch the spears for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness) in a pan of boiling salted water, then drain and refresh in iced water. Drain again then trim the spears so that they are all the same length
Slice the smoked duck breast, on the grain, so you have 12 thin slices, and slice 12 thin pieces from the remaining saffron loaf
Preheat the grill to high. Wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of smoked duck, then wrap again in a slice of saffron bread
Place on a grill-pan and dot with butter. Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp all over
  • 1 tbsp of unsalted butter
To deep-fry the duck eggs, heat some vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer to 160C
  • vegetable oil
Working in two batches, fry the breaded duck eggs for 2-3 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper
Pile the last of the saffron breadcrumbs on four serving plates
Slice the base off each fried duck egg and stand it on the breadcrumbs, then slice off the top to reveal the runny egg yolks
Lay the asparagus bundles alongside and serve immediately
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