Tender & Flaky Homemade Biscuits

Flaky Biscuits with jam | photo by Zoë François

There’s nothing better than tender, flaky biscuits.

There are three things that guarantee tender, flaky biscuits every time: flour, fat and folding. The type of flour you use will take your biscuits from tough to tender. I use a combination of cake flour and all-purpose flour, so that I have enough structure in my biscuits to create the flaky layers, but they are tender when I break into them. Then there is fat. You want it cold. It should be blended into the flour, but you also want some pieces to stay in tact to create the flakiness. This is just like making pie dough. Lastly there is folding. By folding the dough, you create even more layers and the biscuits are guaranteed to be flaky.

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Pear Bread

Banana Pear Bread with icing

The fact that Bosc pears taste like spicy, buttery perfume (I mean sweet, pure essence of pear, not old lady soap), may be second to their beauty. I admit I bought this bag of pears to decorate my kitchen. They’re so sleek and statuesque that most every still life painter from Van Gogh to Picasso has captured their elegance.

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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, so 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.

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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!

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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.

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