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

Christmas Stollen… and stay tuned for Swedish Tea Ring with Eggnog Glaze next week

stollen-hbin5-3-of-16

Christmas Stollen is a wonderful German baking tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with dried fruit, spiced with cardamom and a special treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven it is traditional to slather the warm loaf in butter then roll it in sugar, but we skip the extra butter and dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. This loaf actually holds up very well for a couple of days and that makes it a great gift for the holidays. We’ll have one more Christmas post in December, from Sarah Kieffer– an inventive Swedish Tea Ring with Eggnog Glaze.

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4th of July Berry Pizza on the Grill!

4th of July Pizza 10

There is nothing more American than grilling on the 4th of July, well, maybe a star spangled pizza is the most patriotic of all. This is a super fast pizza that is ideal for breakfast, which I just served my family this morning, or can be throw together at your holiday BBQ as dessert. I made the pizza in a small baking sheet, but you can make a larger one if you have a crowd to feed.

Happy 4th of July!

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Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake, named for the three kings who came to bring gifts to Jesus, is traditionally served during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throughout the South. Not only is it decorated with the colors of the festival, but it also has a hidden trinket in the dough. I’ve used an almond, but in New Orleans bakers often use a ceramic or plastic doll to represent the baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the trinket is responsible for making the King Cake the following year.

There are many versions of this sweet bread, depending on the traditions of different families. Our version from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day is made with Brioche dough which has nutmeg, cinnamon, and raisins added into it.  The dough can be Braided and/or formed into a Couronne (crown shape) as I have done here. Some bakers even use a cream cheese and praline filling, but we went with a more traditional filling.

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Soft Pretzels – (How-to Video on Shaping the Dough)

Homemade Soft Pretzels Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

When I was growing up in Connecticut I’d spend a fair amount of time in New York City. Every time I’d get off the train I’d get a pretzel from a cart outside the station. That, and a trip to the Papaya King, were enough to get me through the day. It was a cheap, tasty and filling snack for a teenager.

Part of the characteristics of that perfect New York pretzel is the way they look. Philadelphia has a pretzel culture too, but you’d never confuse it with its northern cousin, due to the shape. Philly has figure-8 knots and New York has … pretzel shape. Admittedly, it’s nostalgia that makes me partial to the New York version. And you really should serve these homemade soft pretzels with mustard to complete the experience. I like a grainy mustard and that is just not at all traditional. Oh well.

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Instant Sourdough Brioche

We’ve used Red Star Yeast in our recipes since we started writing our very first book in 2005 and trust that their products will ALWAYS get the job done with the highest quality (and rise) every time. We were super intrigued when they introduced the Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast. It’s the perfect entry into sourdough baking, if you don’t have the days to create a sour starter, nor the hours and hours to let each loaf rise. This yeast contains real sourdough starter, which is activated along with yeast, to create an instant loaf of real sourdough, without the wait. We are thrilled with the results and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants the sourdough without the wait. Here is our Brioche recipe from Holiday and Celebration Bread Book made with the Platinum Instant Sourdough. You can use this Super Fast Sourdough Brioche for anything you’d make with Brioche, but it has the extra depth of flavor you get from a sourdough starter. The strength of that flavor will increase as the dough rests and we found that the dough behaved best within the first 3 days of storing it in the refrigerator, after that we froze the dough to use later.

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Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns! are the words to the children’s song, and they hold true even now. These little buns are traditionally served at Easter time: A sweet dough that is spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing. I made them after many requests and my kids devoured them within minutes; they were nervous about the raisins, but the cream cheese crosses and scent of cinnamon and nutmeg drew them in.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are just as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!

If you follow along on our Breadin5 Instagram, you can watch us make the buns in our Instagram stories. The recipe comes from our latest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a whole chapter on Easter bread recipes.

Hot Cross Buns

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Chocolate Chestnut Bread with Red Star Yeast

Chocolate Chestnut Bread Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is such an iconic image of Christmas. If you’ve never had roasted chestnuts, they are one of the sweetest and creamiest of nuts and the absolute perfect pairing with chocolate. This elegant chocolate chestnut bread is from our new Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and is super easy to make. If you have a tall panettone mold, it makes a really festive loaf for the holidays or a great gift, along with our newest book. You can also bake this in a loaf pan or even muffin cups.

I also used this loaf to make a wonderful bread pudding (recipe link at the end). Watch our video on instagram of how we made the bread and tips for kneading ingredients into dough you have stored in the refrigerator. (more…)

Apple-Cranberry Coffee Cake

Apple-Cranberry Coffee Cake Recipe | Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

GIVEAWAY IS DONE!!! RECIPE FOR THIS WONDERFUL COFFEE CAKE BELOW!

For the holidays, we wanted to thank all of you for the inspiration and joy you have given us, so we’ve partnered with some of our favorite folks to do a GIVEAWAY! This Apple-Cranberry Coffee Cake from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a perfect holiday morning treat and we’re going to make baking it even more fun, by giving away a copy of our book, a J.K. Adams Patisserie Maple Wood Rolling Pin and a beautiful Emile Henry Loaf Dish to FIVE lucky winners.

Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, rolling pin and bakeware

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below about what else you might bake with these items (we’re hoping for more inspiration from you all). Read our rules and such for giveaways here. You can also enter on our instagram page for even greater chance at winning.

Now for the Apple-Cranberry Coffee Cake recipe: (more…)

White Bread Master Recipe from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five

White Bread Master Recipe | Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

There are about one hundred recipes in all of our books, but we always start with a Master Recipe. It is our opportunity in each book to dive a little deeper into our super fast and simple method of bread baking. In Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day we started with a simple and nostalgic white bread master recipe. It can be the perfect school sandwich bread or the base of some pretty fancy holiday breads. If white bread is not your cup of tea (or loaf of bread) then try one of our enriched or whole grain breads from the new book. With dozens of doughs to choose from in the book, you will find many that suit your holiday needs.

If you are familiar with our dough and method, you may notice that the doughs in this new book are a bit drier than our previous ones. This is on purpose, since some of the more intricate loaves in this book would be more difficult to shape with a very wet dough. Since many of the doughs in the book are enriched (with butter, eggs, milk, etc) they only store in the refrigerator for about 5 days (you can freeze what is left). Because the dough is drier, we find it much easier to mix with a stand mixer, as opposed to a wooden spoon or even a Danish Dough Whisk. You can use those tools, but you’ll need to put some muscle into it, so the dough comes out nice and smooth and consistent.

This post is meant to provide a guide to baking the bread, but the book has tons more details and lots of tips and techniques for those who are just starting out with bread baking or our method in particular.  (more…)