Apple-Peach Braided Brioche Cake

apple-peach brioche cake

‘At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.’ – Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve got peaches and apples in my kitchen. Summer is gently fading, and autumn is slipping in with an occasional cool breeze, a golden leaf here and there. I don’t know how August is already over, but here is September with its crisp ciders and juicy pears. I’m ready for bread-making again, and am starting the cooler months off with this brioche cake.The juicy peaches and the apple-cinnamon flavor are a good combination; a perfect intermingling of the seasons.

Apple-Peach Brioche Cake
Inspired by this Braided Cinnamon, Apple, and Pecan Bread from Floating Kitchen.

1 pound Whole Wheat Brioche or regular Brioche

Filling
1 small apple, peeled and grated (I used a Gala apple)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup peeled and diced peaches

Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2-4 tablespoons water

Remove 1 pound of dough from your dough bucket, and place it on a generously floured surface. Knead the dough a few times, and shape into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and let rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel the apple, and then grate it directly over a clean dish towel. Wring out the dish towel over a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, catching all the apple juice. Set the grated apple aside to use later. Pour the apple juice into a small saucepan, and add the granulated sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let simmer until the liquid is reduced by half and starting to turn sticky. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the slightly cooled apple juice, and stir to combine. Add the grated apple pieces and stir again to combine. Set aside.

brioche cake

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Grease the ring of a 10-inch springform pan.

Once the dough is ready, roll it to a 1/4-inch thick rectangle, using flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the counter. Brush the melted butter over the dough. Use an off-set spatula to spread the apple-sugar mixture evenly over the butter, leaving a 1/2 border around the edges. Sprinkle with the chopped peaches. Starting with the long end of the dough, carefully roll the dough into a log. Gently transfer the log to the prepared sheet pan (you may need to use a bench scraper or spatula to help move it). Mine fit on the sheet pan diagonally. Chill the log in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until firm.

brioche cake

Using a scissors or sharp knife, gently cut the roll into half lengthwise so the layers of dough and filling are visible, but leave one end still attached by about 3/4-inch.

brioche cake

With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half, and continue until you have braided the entire roll. Press the ends together.

brioche cake

Starting at the cut end, gently spiral the braid into a circle, no bigger than 9-inches across, making sure not to leave any holes or gaps. If any peaches fall out, tuck them back inside the braid. It’s okay if a little filling leaks around the edges, too.

brioche cake

Place the ring of the spring form pan around the bread. Cover with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours, until puffed and touching (or almost touching) the sides of the pan.

brioche cake

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350F.

Remove the plastic wrap, but leave the spring form pan around the dough. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Gently remove the spingform ring from the bread (if it’s sticking, use a thin knife or off-set spatula to help release it).

brioche cake

For the icing
Put the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water, and mix until combined. If the icing is too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over warm the warm bread.

brioche cake

Best eaten warm. Enjoy!

Watching Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network!

I was working on another show concept when I heard that Chip and Joanna Gaines were starting Magnolia Network. I called the producer I had been working with and said something to the effect of “THAT’S MY DREAM NETWORK!”

Yes, I said it in all caps.

I have always admired the passion and intensity that Joanna and Chip have for the work they do, but still impart so much joy into their projects. That resonates with me.

Baking is a craft I LOVE and want to share that with the world. I couldn’t think of a better platform to do that on than Magnolia Network and I am sooooo grateful they felt the same way when they saw my audition “sizzle” and invited me to join their community of creators.

Zoë François measuring ingredients in her Minneapolis kitchen

Zoë Bakes is more than a show about baking, although there is lots of that too. It is an ode to my entire food community in Minneapolis. I am excited to share this town with people, who may not know its long tradition of baking.

Minneapolis sits on the Mississippi river and was developed as a wheat milling town. Those old mills (now museums and restaurants) still stand on the banks of the river as a reminder of our roots. My house is in a neighborhood built by the wheat barons. The history is everywhere. The current community of farmers, millers, and bakers have rich stories to tell and I am so honored to share them on Zoë Bakes.

Episodes Available Now | Zoe Bakes on Magnolia Network

Watch Zoe Bakes on Magnolia Network on discovery+ or on the Magnolia Network | Time Well Spent app

Zoë François sits with neighbors and family on her porch in the Porch Parties episode of Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network.

Episode 1: Porch Party Pies

Zoë François bakes up a table full of irresistible pies and cooks up one of her favorite desserts to share with friends and family on her porch as they kick off their annual tradition of welcoming spring back to Minnesota.
Recipes: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Strawberry Fool

Zoë stands with a tray of biscuits made with Justin Sutherland at Handsome Hog on Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network

Episode 2: Biscuit Bake

Zoë is invited to a backyard barbecue and visits a local chef known for his biscuit baking. She incorporates his tips into her own recipes as she makes two of her favorite Southern-inspired sweets.
Recipes: Tender & Flaky Homemade Biscuits | Banana Pudding | Biscuit Topped Cobbler

Zoë François of Pie and Mighty, showing Zoë François how to make her grandmother's angel pie on Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network

Episode 3: Making Meringue

Zoë dives into the magic of meringue when she bakes it into a Pavlova (from Zoë Bakes Cakes), a whipped cream and fruit-filled dessert, for a dinner party with friends. She also visits a local pie maker who has mastered the art of meringue and uses it as a crust.
Recipes: Pavlova | Stephanie Meyer’s Beef Stew

Pastry chef Minda Ringdahl shows host Zoe Francois decorating techniques, as seen on Zoe Bakes, season 1.

Episode 4: Decorating Cakes

Zoë surprises her best friend by making a devil’s food cake (from Zoë Bakes Cakes) topped with champagne buttercream for her anniversary. She also shares her tips for piping roses and borders, and explores current trends in cake design at a local cakery.
Recipes: Devil’s Food Cake | Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Host Zoe Francois tastes different honey varieties with Brian Fredrickson, owner of Ames Farm

Episode 5: Buzzworthy Bakes

Zoë bakes a beehive-shaped birthday cake (from Zoë Bakes Cakes) for her beekeeper dad, complete with marzipan bees and a variety of honeys from her visit to a honey farm. Then, she whips up baked doughnuts with a honey glaze.
Recipe: Beehive Cake

Host Zoe Francois and baker Sarah Kieffer

Episode 6: Cookie Delivery

Zoë wants to give her college son a taste of home by baking delicious chocolate chip cookies that highlight a friend’s fun technique. Later, she sends everything but the milk when she includes a variety of customized brownies.

Recipes: Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies | Zoë’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sarah’s Book: 100 Cookies

Host Zoe Francois with friends at her backyard pizza party.

Episode 7: Pizza Farm

Zoë visits a pizza farm to learn about her new wood-fired pizza oven and how to use it for baking at home. Then, she gets inspired to create a pizza farm experience in her own backyard for a group of friends.

More information about my Fontana Forni Pizza Oven and Copper Olive Oil Cruet.

Episode 8: Apple Classics

Zoë kicks off apple season by visiting an orchard and picking new varieties to put a twist on her classic Apple Bundt Cake. She also whips up a few childhood favorites like a Dutch Baby and pink applesauce to share with a friend.
Recipes: Apple Cake with Honey Cider GlazeDutch Baby

Episode 9: Coffee Break

Zoë explores a Scandinavian tradition called fika, a coffee break with sweets, when she visits a local bakery and finds inspiration for a new twist on her Cinnamon Braid. Then, she makes a Cardamom Pear Cake and enjoys both with an old friend.
Recipe: Pear-Cardamom Cake

More episodes coming soon!

Want to learn more about the guests on my show and receive exclusive recipes from them? Sign up for my Substack where I’ll be featuring Q&As with the featured guests, exclusive recipes, and much more.


Zoë François sprinkling salt on warm chocolate chip cookies

The Fundamentals of Baking: Cookies

Check out my first Magnolia Workshop, now available on the Magnolia Network app! Download the app “Magnolia | Time Well Spent” and watch my cookie workshop series to learn all about the fundamentals of baking cookies. There are nine chapters that will guide you through some of my favorite recipes and help you create YOUR perfect cookie! This course is basically my Chocolate Chip Cookie 101 blog post on steroids where I bring you step by step through my process of changing a cookie to the texture and flavor profile you love. To find my course, open the app, find “Create,” then click “Workshops” and you’ll see me there!Photos courtesy Magnolia Network

Join us Friday, August 13 for an Instagram Live event: Pizza and flatbread on the grill

Zoe and I did a live broadcast on Instagram (Click to view the recording on Instagram), grilling pizzas and flatbreads outdoors on the gas grill, on Friday, August 13. We demo’d the method, from dough-mixing to topping, to finishing beautiful pizza and flatbread right on the gas grill—keeping your house cool this summer. You’ll be able to post questions for us to answer right to Instagram, and answered questions in real time—pizza questions or anything else about our method.

And as always, we answer questions right here…

Our new book! The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Favorite Recipes from BreadIn5

Hey friends:

Our new book, “The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Favorite Recipes from BreadIn5,” is now available for pre-order (shipping October 12, 2021). We were excited and grateful to be asked to do a “greatest-hits” compilation. Through the lockdowns and trials of the past 18 months, we kept talking with you all here on the website, hearing what you were looking for and sharpening our sense of which recipes really mattered. The new book reflects those conversations, and it’s perfect for anyone who wants a curated collection of the all-time favorite recipes from our seven previous books on super-fast stored dough—for yourself or for the ABin5 newbies on your holiday shopping list. You’ll find:

  • The best of the European and American artisan traditions
  • Whole grain loaves
  • Pizza and flatbread
  • Brioche, challah, and other sweet or enriched breads
  • Gluten-free recipes (a few)
  • Natural sourdough bread

But enough from us—the multitalented Andrew Zimmern graciously agreed to write the foreword to our book so we’ll let him speak for us:

From the Foreword by Andrew Zimmern:

“… What Zoë and Jeff have done with the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes se­ries is prove that the world’s easiest yeasted loaf, the most versatile bread dough recipe (even pizza!), can be taken in so many directions and have so many ap­plications that it has created a series of hits, launched a gazillion home bakers on their own bread journey, and spawned, finally, a Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day… This series redefined bread baking for America, long before the Covid-19 sourdough craze. This se­ries of books launched on a simple premise: bread baking can be easy, simple, and anyone can do it. Then it took off—and took on healthy breads, hydration ratios, flatbreads, gluten-free breads, holiday breads, pizza, and more. That’s what happens in our culture: Success breeds more success and, in this case, more books…”

—Andrew Zimmern

Thanks Andrew!

Grilled Veggie Pizza for July 4th with Red Star Yeast

Grilled pizza is a favorite summer pastime for us; we have spent many hot summer days making everything from Pesto Pizza to Breakfast Pizzas. Today we want to share one of our favorite pizzas with you: Grilled Pizza with Summer Veggies. We keep our crust crisp by grilling one side, flipping it, and then adding just enough fresh veggies and cheese. Eating a slice of warm, grilled pizza is truly magical.

Below you will find our directions to making pizza on the gas grill. Please note that we do call for a baking stone in our recipe, but you can attempt this right on the grates if you don’t have one (but a baking stone does make things a little easier). If you only have a charcoal grill, we have a post here on how to use that.

If you head to our Breadin5 Instagram page, you can watch our reels and see us make the pizza on the grill! 

(Need a refresher on grilling pizzas? Check out all our tips and tricks here.)

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Pizza Dough

3 cups lukewarm water
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Platinum Yeast from Red Star
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
7 cups bread flour

Ingredients for finishing

1/3 cup pizza sauce

1/2 cup of bell peppers (we used a mixture of green, red, and yellow), sliced thin

1/4 cup yellow onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced thin

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

For the dough

Combine the warm water, olive oil, yeast, sugar, and salt in a 5-quart bowl; preferably, in a lidded (not airtight) plastic container or food-grade bucket. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated using a stand mixer or dough whisk. Cover, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. You can use the dough right away, or refrigerate it for up to 14 days.

To Grill the Pizza
Heat your gas grill: Place a baking stone on the primary burners. Turn all burners to high and let heat up for 20 minutes. After they have heated, turn the side without the stone down to low heat.

While your grill is heating, pull out a 10 ounce piece of dough from your bucket and quickly form it into a ball. Let it sit on the counter while you gather your toppings.

Roll the ball out into a 1/8-inch-thick round. If the ball is resisting just let it sit for about 5 minutes and it will relax and allow you to work with it.

Using a floured pizza peel, place the shaped pizza dough over the pizza stone. Let it cook there until the top starts to bubble and the bottom creates a char to your liking. Remove the pizza from the grill and place on a nearby work surface. Making sure the charred-side is up, top your pizza: cover the pizza with sauce, veggies, and then the cheese.

Then, using your pizza peel, bring the pizza back to the grill, and finish cooking. Place over the hot side again, keeping a very careful watch. As soon as your char-marks look great, slide the pizza over to the cool side and cover the grill. Let cook for 4 to 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove the pizza from the grill, move to a wire rack, and let cool for a minute or two. Slice into pieces and serve.

Tip: If your pizza cheese won’t brown on the grill, you can use a kitchen torch to give it some color.

Note: Red Star Yeast provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities. This website is reader-supported; BreadIn5, LLC earns affiliate commissions when buying products through links on this website.

Challah for a Friday night

Photo by Stephen Scott Gross

It’s Friday night at the end of April, and I’m still baking (this is, after all, Minnesota). I know challah as a traditional Jewish bread but it’s a close relative of a whole family of enriched, sweetened breads. The most famous is brioche (see link below), which is twice as enriched–with butter. Challah’s lighter, and it works well with butter, or any vegetable oil (including coconut oil; melt it first). We’ve done this versatile favorite many times here on the website, and of course, in our books. Here are some of my favorites–the first link includes the dough recipe for a basic white-flour challah. All these recipe-links will open in a new tab:

A round braided challah you can bake in a crock pot

crock pot challah

Shaping the braid or the turban

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The flatbread challah: the fastest ever

Braiding the fancy six-strand challah

How to: Six Strand Braided Challah | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Apples and Honey Challah

Apple and Honey Challah Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Whole Grain Challah With Cranberries and Orange Zest

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And challah can be made from our brioche dough formula, here shaped into Mallorca buns…

mallorca 05

Happy Friday!

New cake book: Zoe Bakes Cakes!

My friend, co-author, and business partner– the multi-talented Zoe Francois, has written the only cake cookbook you will ever need. Zoe Bakes Cakes dropped three days ago, and it’s already hugely successful. Someone asked me if I helped out on this cake book: answer is no, except for sampling the cakes!

Zoe and I met 18 years ago in our kids’ music class, and found we had some common interests–music, art, photography and FOOD. Once we figured out the food part and decided to write about bread together, Zoe broadened the repertoire beyond the country loaves and rye breads that were my obsession. That meant sweeter, richer treats like brioche and yeasted pastries. It temporarily satisfied the sweet tooth, but I knew that sooner or later, Zoe would write a cake book. The book is incredible, with scrumptious cakes, crystal-clear directions, and absolutely gorgeous photography–all shot by Zoe herself (she’s also a photographer–did I mention multi-talented?). Have a look…

and then have a bite…

… because if you can bake bread, you can bake cake too! The cake book is on Amazon and booksellers everywhere. Happy baking…

Incredible crust: bread-baking in a cloche

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So many people asked us about baking our dough inside a closed cast-iron pan that Zoe did a beautiful post on the subject a few weeks ago.  The cast-iron pan method is based on a much older method, where bread is baked inside a closed clay pot (or “cloche,” meaning bell, in French).  Both methods depend on trapped steam from the dough to create a perfect crust, but the clay pot has the added benefit of being porous, so moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes.  I tested the Sassafras brand “La Cloche” product, and I’m very impressed with the crust I’m getting –take a look at the picture above; this crust is thin and shatters when broken (the burned bits are perfect in artisan loaves; that’s how you know you’ve baked long enough).  Keep in mind that these crust results are hard to re-create with loaves very high in whole wheat (because of oils in the wheat’s germ).  The bread above is about 15% whole grains– it’s a light version of the Peasant Loaf in the book, and of course our basic recipe works great in this situation.  Whole grain breads perform beautifully in “La Cloche,” but the crust tends to be softer and thicker. One other thing to note–any clay product is somewhat fragile, and after some years of owning the Sassafras product, the base did crack (still quite usable with a stone underneath).

For crust aficionados, I think the “La Cloche” results are a little better than what I get inside closed cast-iron. 

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Sheet Pan Taco Pizza for Super Bowl Sunday

Throughout college, many weekends were spent eating pizza. This was for several reasons: pizza was delicious, and affordable, but most importantly, my boyfriend delivered pizza. This made pizza often free, which was better than affordable and even better than delicious. One particular pizza his pizza-chain made was “taco” pizza: a very American take on the taco, with tomato sauce and cheddar cheese, and then topped with shredded lettuce and fresh tomatoes. It was my favorite; somehow the fresh lettuce and tomato on top complimented the crust and melty cheese underneath perfectly.

I decided to recreate this pizza in sheet pan form, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday. I was feeling nostalgic for taco pizza, and this pizza also reminded me of the famous taco dip my mom would make for any and all events – layers of sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and black olives. This pizza has some of that, plus a delicious, thick crust and melted cheese. Our version here is very American and also pretty Midwestern (my family always opted for no spices and beans in both pizza and dip form), but I have listed in the recipe ways you can bring more flavor to your pizza if desired.

Taco Sheet Pan Pizza

from Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes A Day

A few notes: The second layer of tomato sauce can be replaced with salsa, if you would like your pizza with a little more kick. Refried beans can also be added to the pizza along with the ground beef (or in place of it). You can replace the mozzarella and cheddar with Monterey Jack and/or Colby (just make sure you replace them with a cheese that melts well).

3 cups lukewarm water
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
7 cups bread flour

Ingredients for finishing
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup tomato sauce

1 pound ground beef, cooked with your favorite taco seasoning (drain the grease from the meat before topping pizza)
2 cups grated mozzarella

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded lettuce

chopped fresh tomatoes, black olives, sour cream, jalapeños, guacamole, etc

For the dough
Combine the warm water, olive oil, yeast, sugar, and salt in a 5-quart bowl; preferably, in a lidded (not airtight) plastic container or food-grade bucket. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated using a stand mixer or dough whisk. Cover, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. You can use the dough right away, or refrigerate it for up to 14 days.

Remove 2 pounds of dough from your dough bucket, and place it on a generously floured surface (for a thinner crust, use 1 1/2 pounds). Knead the dough a few times, and shape into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and let rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Put your stone or pizza steel on the middle rack in your oven, and preheat the oven to 500, letting the oven preheat for a good 45 minutes. Spread 4 tablespoons of olive oil on a half sheet pan, making sure to oil the inside rim. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape, and lay the dough onto the pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top of the dough, and use your fingers to work the dough evenly so it covers the pan (if the dough begins to resist, let it rest for 10 minutes and try again).

After the dough has rested, work it again as best you can so it evenly covers the pan. Let it rest for 30 minutes while the oven is preheating.

Spread 3/4 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the pizza. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the crust are light golden, and the sauce starts to caramelize around the edges. The bottom of the crust should also be light golden brown and crisp.

Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully spread another 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (or salsa!) over the pizza, then top with the ground beef.

Cover with the grated cheeses, and carefully put the hot sheet pan back on the stone. Bake again for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown underneath.

Cover the pizza with shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, olives, and whatever other ingredients your heart desires. Serving guacamole and sour cream on the side is a nice idea.

Enjoy! We hope your team wins!

Broa (Portuguese corn bread) with Caldeirada de Peixe (Portuguese fish stew)

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I may have made a resolution about not complaining about the weather this year, but too bad!  Greetings from Minnesota, where I’m freezing at my desk, so today’s a soup and bread day.  In the book, we included a Portuguese Corn Bread (Broa) and an accompanying Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Peixe) to go with it–it’s a perfect combination.

The Broa dough is simply our Master Recipe, substituting 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (yellow or white, stone-ground or regular) for 1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour.  Bake as usual as a round loaf.  In the picture above I used a lightly greased and stove-top pre-heated black cast-iron skillet (my skillet doesn’t come with a cover or I’d have tried that, see Zoe’s post about baking in covered cast-iron).  Amazon carries the Lodge brand (click here to view).   Here’s the Caldierada de Peixe recipe: (more…)