Instant Sourdough Doughnuts

Instant Sourdough Doughnuts | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In 2005 when my co-author, Jeff, and I wrote the first edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, people were just coming out of the Atkins Diet fog and were longing desperately for bread. We offered a simple, fast and delicious approach to baking bread that ANYONE could embrace. Fast forward to today and half my Instagram feed is filled with the most gorgeous loaves of sourdough bread, being baked in shops and at home. But, not everyone has the time to devote to creating, feeding and maintaining a starter. I have one and it mostly sits dehydrated in my pantry. So, when Red Star Yeast* came out with an Instant Sourdough Yeast, complete with real rye-based sourdough culture, I was super excited to give it a try. I’ve used Red Star Yeast products for decades and trust their yeast to ALWAYS get the job done, and with the highest quality. I was thrilled with the results and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants all the flavor of sourdough without the wait.

Because I love sweets more than anything, I wanted to play with the Instant Sourdough Yeast in our no-knead Brioche Dough, based on a recipe from our newest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And, well, doughnuts are always top of mind for me. Adding Instant Sourdough Yeast to doughnuts gives them a spectacular flavor and wonderful rise. You can always control the depth of flavor you want. By using the stored Brioche dough just after it is mixed and refrigerated, you’ll have a really mellow sour flavor from the Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast, that adds a hint of complexity to the doughnuts, but is subtle. If you make more doughnuts from that same batch 24 hours later (you’ll have enough dough for a few batches) the sour flavor increases as the dough ferments, which is true in all of our stored Five Minute doughs. You can also freeze the dough to lock in the flavor you like best. Since there is also instant yeast in the mix, it will ALWAYS rise, without fail. 

I made a Berry Icing to go with the Instant Sourdough Doughnuts, because it is so fresh and sweet. You can dust the doughnuts in confectioners’ sugar or top with a chocolate ganache. 

Coffe, Doughnut and Red Star Yeast Packets | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Rolls

Valentine's Day Cinnamon Rolls | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

There is really nothing more loving or romantic than baking for the ones you love. And, if it happens to be Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Rolls in the shape of a heart, they are the perfect holiday treat for everyone. These buns are based on our most popular, super easy and fast cinnamon roll recipe from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is the perfect way to celebrate just about any day, no special occasion necessary. I added crushed fresh raspberries to the cream cheese icing to add a bit of pink and sweeten the deal even more. 

Happy Galentine’s and Valentine’s Day to you all!  (more…)

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Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding

Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

I think this Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding may be the ultimate comfort food. I always have bread on the counter. Since my new book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, came out, I have several loaves going at a time. What to do with all the partially eaten loaves? Cube it up, soak it in a rich custard and bake it. It could not be any easier and the results are warm and so satisfying. Bread pudding is one of the those desserts that also doubles as breakfast, like pie and cake! 🙂 No, really, it is full of eggs and toasty bread and this one just happens to have bits of chocolate and chunks of chestnuts. If you were to serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche instead of ice cream, it would be a simple and elegant Christmas breakfast. Add the ice cream and it is a homey, but decadent dessert.

When I worked in restaurants my bread pudding was always one of the most popular desserts on the menu. Hope you enjoy it!

Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

You can watch me make this bread pudding in my instagram video. Recipe below. (more…)

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Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Our new Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day book is out, just in time for the holidays! Today you’ll be carving turkey and the Christmas music will start (who am I kidding, it started weeks ago). Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the book I have been waiting to create since the day Jeff and I started our adventure in Five Minute Bread, over a decade ago. This book is full of all the sweet and pretty breads a pastry chef gets jazzed about. There are breads from all over the world, for just about every occasion. From Tahini Swirled Challah, to Christmas breads from all over Europe (and beyond), pitas for Ramadan and other celebrations, even monkey bread for after school, of course, there are several sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, plus this beautiful Holiday Star Bread Recipe. We even have a simple technique for making croissants, which our readers have been asking for since the very first book in 2007. We nailed it and it’s in this new book!

Washington Post Best Cookbooks of 2018

Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day made the list and they said it was because they saw all the beautiful Star breads being baked and posted on Instagram. So, I have YOU to thank for this amazing honor! Really, what a thrill!

Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day | Breadin5

Scroll down to see more of what is in the book, including pictures of me looking pretty excited about the whole thing. It’s never too early to get started on your holiday shopping, so feel free to order a copy of Holiday Bread for yourself and all those loved ones on your holiday list! 😉 We can’t wait for you to bake from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Happy Thanksgiving! (more…)

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Date and Tamarind Loaf

Date and Tamarind Loaf | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

When I flipped through Nik Sharma’s new cookbook, Season, the Date and Tamarind Loaf struck me with an air of comfortable familiarity. I’d never had this particular dessert before, but the exotic ingredients are some that I adore. I was introduced to tamarind from my husband, whose family is from Trinidad, where this fruit appears in many foods. Tamarind is sticky and sour and used in all kinds of dishes from sweet desserts to savory Indian chutneys and stews. If you have never seen or used tamarind before, I have created an instagram video to show you how to go about it. You can always use the paste or even pureed tamarind, but it is always fun to start with the real fruit. When I read that Nik’s inspiration for this cake was a sweet chutney, I had to make it and that my family would find it comforting.

If you are not familiar with Nik’s work, I do hope you will check out his book. It is stunningly beautiful visually (he has a photography style that is all his own), but he is also a master at telling his story, which is both smart and compelling. The food is the main event, but the book is really so much more. (more…)

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Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread recipe | photo by Zoë François

The first time I tried nutella was in France, on my honeymoon. I thought French kids were the luckiest people on earth. There was no way my mom would have given me a chocolate hazelnut spread on anything. (For the record it was the 1960s, she was a hippy and didn’t allow any sugar at all. Hence my full on sugar rebellion and career as a pastry chef.) French kids get nutella for breakfast, on their bread at lunch or as a late night snack. They all seemed healthy enough, so I think the French moms are on to something. My honeymoon was 23 years ago and in the meantime we Americans have had a hazelnut spread revolution of our own. Now you can find it on the shelves of Costco and 7-eleven. My house is never without a jar.

I’ve spread nutella on just about everything, but one of my favorites is freshly baked banana bread. In an “aha! moment” I decided to swirl the nutella right into the batter and bake them together. I’m not claiming to have discovered this combo, but I believe this may be the tastiest pairing ever there was. I now always make two loaves of nutella swirled banana bread, otherwise it disappears too quickly. One we eat while it is still warm and a bit gooey, the other sits for breakfast the next day. It is magnificent and super simple to make. (more…)

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