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.