The name of this blog is meant to be nonsensical. I hope it’s easy to remember, but it doesn’t hold any real significance. I do like vegetables, like carrots. I also really like dessert, like cake. I more often eat and cook the former, but I mostly daydream about the latter. And I really, really love things that fall somewhere in the middle, with spicy, salty, or sour elements to balance the sweetness.
So, what does this have to do with challah? I know it’s bread and totally not dessert because otherwise it would be pigeonholed as something to have after dinner and I most certainly endorse it as a part of any (read: every) meal. But I mentioned it because I knew immediately, from the moment I dreamed it up, that I would love this challah. It’s the sweetest, softest, and most flavorful challah I’ve ever had. The dough is enriched with eggs, honey, and olive oil — already the makings of a fantastic challah — but the ribbons of bittersweet orange marmalade and a breadth of earthy saffron take it to another level. It’s rich and complex. The sprinkle of crunchy sea salt at the end keeps the sweetness in check.
I wouldn’t try to pass this off as your standard challah. It’s challah pushed to an extreme. I’ve been calling it Spanish challah in my head, for the bitter Seville oranges used in the marmalade and the saffron my brother brought back from studying abroad in Madrid. Walking around Seville and Cordoba last October, I saw lots of the unripe green oranges hanging from decorative trees. The guidebooks warned that even if they had been ripe, they wouldn’t have made a very good snack since they are unpleasantly bitter and sour in their natural state. But they shine when cooked down into fragrant, sweet-with-a-hint-of-bitterness marmalade, which means I can be reminded of those trees every time I look in the fridge.
This challah is probably most at home at breakfast or brunch. It’s absolutely incredible warm or toasted with coconut oil and a sprinkle of salt. Of course, it makes excellent French toast.