Chocolate-Orange Challah with Saffron from Food with Friends

chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co
chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co
chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co
chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co
chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co
chocolate-orange challah with saffron | apt 2b baking co

Gathering over a meal is just about my favorite way to catch up with old friends or get to know new ones so I knew I would love Leela Cyd’s new book Food with Friends before I even opened it. Then, when I did recipes like pistachio rose clouds, socca cakes with labneh and fennel, coconut tapioca pudding (you know I love tapioca!) with roasted necartines and chard empanadas with pistachio cream drew me right in. The recipes and photography in this are inspired by both Leela's life in California and her adventures all over the world - all equally colorful and joyful. Leela's tone is warm and inviting, and the photos are dreamy in a way that makes me want to host as many tea parties, potlucks, and picnics as I can this Spring and Summer. 

I marked so many recipes in this book to try, but I’m on a bit of a bread baking spree lately so for this post I made the chocolate-orange challah with saffron. It is a gorgeous spin on a classic challah - filled with sweet chocolate and orange, tinted with saffron.

Chocolate-Orange Challah with Saffron

makes one 10-inch Challah bread

reprinted with permission from

3/4 cup whole milk

large pinch of saffron threads

1/3 cup olive oil plus more for greasing the bowl

2 1/4 teaspoon (1 envelope) dry yeast

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate

flaky sea salt for garnish

pearl sugar for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring the milk almost to a boil. Add the saffron, cover, and remove from the heat. Let the milk steep for about 1 hour. Grease a large bwol with olive oil and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the steeped milk and yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes, until it produces a creamy liquid with bubbles on top. Whisk in 1 whole egg, the egg yolks, oil, agave syrup, fine sea salt, and orange zest. Adding 1 cup at a time, mix the flour into the wet mixture until a shaggy dough has started to form. Change to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed until the dough is a smooth, soft texture, 5 to 7 minutes (or if you’re kneading by hand, work the dough for about 10 minutes). Place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide into 4 equal sections. Spread each portion into a 12-inch long rectangle about 1 inch thick, top with the chocolate shards, and roll each rectangle into a rope.

Shape the challah - (Yossy's note: there are some photos in the book to help weave and shape the challah: here is an online photo tutorial to help) 

Set the shaped dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cover it lightly with a tea towel and allow it to rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt and pearl sugar. Bake the challah for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then slice and serve.

Food with Friends is out March 29, check it out! Thanks to Leela and Clarkson Potter for the sneak peek.

Easy Cream Scones and Fancy Lemon Curd

simple cream scones and fancy lemon curd | apt 2b baking co
simple cream scones and fancy lemon curd | apt 2b baking co
simple cream scones and fancy lemon curd | apt 2b baking co
simple cream scones and fancy lemon curd | apt 2b baking co

We are finally getting our chilly winter weather in NYC and I don’t mind it one bit, although I do wish there was some snow on the ground. Walks to the river on snowy evenings are one of my very favorite parts of this season and I can’t believe we haven’t taken one yet. I didn’t even mind when last year the river was freezing over and we were taking those walks until March...I am much better suited to bundling up in layers and braving the chill than summertime temps.

I have had a quiet start to 2016. It has taken longer than usual to get over my holiday hangover this year, and getting back into the swing of everyday life is taking a little extra effort this year. So, I have been taking it easy and spending a lot of time at home, doing the self-care thing and decluttering using the KonMari method. Admittedly, I haven't read the book so I don't know how to fold my socks like Marie Kondo, but the general idea seems simple. It feels really good to get rid of things. Lots of boxes and bags have been sent to Goodwill (how did I acquire so many f-ing photography "props"!), and I even subjected myself to a round of clothes consigning at Beacon’s Closet. I don’t know what I was thinking. 

Getting back to my own kitchen and cooking dinner most nights instead of the all too easy take-out option has helped too, but I have to fess up to ordering most of my groceries online for the last couple of weeks -  something I am a little embarrassed to tell you all considering I am such a farmer’s market cheerleader (and I know, I know, the packaging is wasteful) - but this is a safe space and I trust that you all won’t judge me too harshly for taking the easy way out for awhile.

That online ordering is what brought me the pretty pink lemons pictured in this post, along with cara cara oranges with coral colored interiors, and vibrant blood oranges too. It’s fancy citrus season and there is a grocery delivery company in NYC that always has an amazing selection. My pal Autumn also sent me the loveliest package of meyer lemons, fresh bergamot (!), and the cutest mandarinquats just before Christmas so my fridge is full of sunny citrus.

Have you ever seen a pink lemon? With their stripey green and yellow skin, they are the kind of fruit that is so cute you might think they are fake. Inside, the flesh is the loveliest shade of blush pink and every time I slice one open I hope it tastes just like Country Time Pink Lemonade. The taste is actually pretty similar to a regular ol lemon (maybe a bit less acidic, but nowhere near as sweet and floral as a meyer lemon) but what can I say, I can't resist buying a couple every time I see them. I am a sucker for fancy fruit.

I am also a sucker for breakfast pastries, especially ones that are as quick and easy as these scones. I've never made scones without butter before, but these five ingredient numbers are quick and easy to put together and don't suffer one bit from their simplicity. The texture is light and fluffy, more bread than a scone with more fat and it makes them kinda perfect for lots of toppings. You could even omit the sugar, make them savory, and add some cheese and chives. Sounds just about perfect to me.

Easy Cream Scones

makes 8 small scones

With just five ingredients, these are the easiest scones I’ve ever made. They are less rich, and a bit more bready than scones made with additional butter, but they are still a delicious base for all sorts of toppings from jam and butter to lemon curd.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest (if using) together in a bowl to combine. Drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring gently until the mixture just holds together. It should be just barely damp, but not wet. You may not need all of the cream.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and pat it into a circle about 1-inch thick and 6 inches wide. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and transfer them to the baking sheet. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the scones until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with lemon curd, butter, and jam.


Lemon Bergamot Curd

adapted from David Lebovitz

makes about 3 cups

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed bergamot juice (or lemon juice)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes

4 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

Zest one lemon and one bergamot (or lemon) into a medium bowl and set a strainer over the top.

In a medium saucepan warm the lemon juice, bergamot juice, sugar, and butter over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. In the meantime, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in a measuring cup.

Ladle about a cup of the lemon juice mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, pour the mixture back into the pot.

Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens and starts to coat the spatula, 3-5 minutes.

Strain curd into the bowl, using the spatula to help the curd pass through. Let the curd cool until just warm then pour it into jars, cover, and refrigerate.

simple cream scones and fancy lemon curd | apt 2b baking co