Banana Bread

Banana Bread | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Here in Minnesota there is a timeless tradition of going to the “cabin.” During the summer everyone heads out of the city on the weekend to fish, and during the winter they still fish, but on frozen lakes. I am not originally from around here and have not quite embraced this weekend exodus, but I have a friend who is and she lures me to her cabin, not with the prospect of fishing, but with her banana bread. She always bakes the loaf in the early morning while I am sleeping; I wake to the fabulous smell of the bread and fresh coffee. It is sweet and cakey, much lighter than this fruity bread has the reputation for. After 17 years in Minnesota I still don’t have a cabin, but I am grateful for the 5-hour drive to my friend’s, just to have her banana bread.

I also keep a stash of overly ripe bananas in my freezer, so I can make it at home. The flavor of this recipe depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Those black spotted bananas your kids don’t want to eat in their lunch are perfect. If you don’t have any overly ripe ones on hand, you can roast the fruit to bring out the sweetness. Just throw your yellow bananas; the green ones won’t work, on to a cookie sheet, peels and all. Pierce the skins and bake them at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Let the bananas cool and then peel and mash. Read More

Homemade Pizza

Tossing homemade pizza dough | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This is my very first Daring Baker’s Challenge. I had a good laugh when I found out that we’d be baking homemade pizza from Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. As you might imagine, I bake every day from my own book, but it has been many years since I’ve made pizza or bread from a traditional recipe. I must admit it was great fun! It took a lot longer than I have become accustomed to, but it was a joy to knead the dough, satisfying to see it rising on my counter and, as you can see, I actually spun it over my head. The dough is very similar in taste to the olive oil dough (page 134) in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I ended up making them side by side. I’ll leave it up to you to do the same and tell me what you think! 😉

I made a southwestern shrimp pizza using some of the Hatch’s Chillies my friend Jen roasted and gave to me, along with grilled corn and goat cheese. I also made a purple potato and bacon pizza with onions I sautéed in the bacon fat. I called Jen as they were coming out of the oven and we had a fabulous lunch! Read More

Lemon Curd and Brioche à Tête for Mother’s Day!

Brioche à Tête and Lemon Curd | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This weekend is Mother’s Day and I will get breakfast in bed from my two wonderful young boys. It is a tradition that always ends up with the duvet and my children wearing a significant portion of food. The menu is a list of their favorite things to eat, prepared by their dad — waffles smothered in syrup, whipped cream, berries and a side of bacon (because my husband Graham loves bacon). I adore it all! They generally give me about two bites before climbing into bed to inhale the rest. I’m sure someday when the boys get older and more civilized we will go out for brunch and I will actually get to eat something, but there is a part of me that will sadly miss this display of loving savagery. Read More

Roasting “Sugar” Pumpkins for Bread

oatmeal pumpkin bread

It is nearly Thanksgiving and there are pumpkins in everyone’s shopping cart, generally in a can. If you want a real treat, that is easy and will have you wanting to skip the canned isle in the grocery store, try roasting your own pumpkin. Baking the pumpkin caramelizes the sugars and makes for a sweeter puree than boiling. You’ll want to start with a “pie” or “sugar” variety and avoid the BIG Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins which are great for carving but are too watery to eat their flesh. Once you have roasted your pumpkin you can use 1 cup for Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread on p. 100 of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the rest is for your favorite pie recipe. Read More

1st Book Signing at Borders!

book signing at Rosedale Borders


Today we had our first book signing at the Borders in Rosedale Center. It was a flurry of enthusiastic bakers and non-bakers alike coming by to chat about bread and sample our Italian peasant loaf. Everyone that stopped had a story of their own bread baking or wanted to share their grandmother’s recipe. We sold and signed the entire stock of books in just a couple of hours. It was fantastic! It would seem people really love to bake bread.

My Mom’s Bialys

mom’s bialysWhen Jeff and I started to write Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day I sent the “master” recipe to my mom. It was, in my mind the ultimate test. Not because my mom has been baking for years and would be hyper critical, quite the opposite. You see my mother has many, many talents, but baking is not one of them. Or I should say it wasn’t until now. I sent her the recipe and waited. A couple of days later I got a hysterical call from her and she was slathering butter all over her first loaf of bread. She had just taken it out of the oven and despite our recommendation to let it cool she cut into it when it was still warm. She was talking to me between bites and was so proud of herself.

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