Thanks Peter!

Peter Reinhart is the dean of American bread bakers, possibly the best in the world.  He teaches baking at Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI, has written six books on bread baking, and has won the James Beard and IACP Cookbook of the Year awards.  On any given day, he’s flying around the world spreading the gospel of great bread– Peter’s an international authority on my favorite subject.

So I was pleased to see his latest book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, which was released on October 27, 2009.  Here was a world authority giving his take on super-fast bread (he doesn’t store his dough so it’s very different than what we do in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day).   Peter acknowledged our books and the quality of our results in his own book.  Here’s what he had to say in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day:

Page 7:  “… when I first read the instructions for the master hearth bread recipe in a recently published book, I immediately assumed, based on my understanding of dough science, that it contained way too much yeast to work as promised.  How could it possibly last in the refrigerator for even one day without overfermenting while the yeast gobbled up all the released sugar?  How could it possibly create a tasty, moist, and creamy loaf (what some describe as the custard-like quality found in great breads)?  Yet, when I made the recipe, it worked and didn’t overferment.  Sure, I saw areas where the recipe could be tweaked and improved upon, but this didn’t diminish my astonishment at how greatly it exceeded my expectations. Although I have yet to find a scientific, chemical, or biological reason to explain why it works, the results forced me to reconsider all of the premises I once held sacrosanct…”

In case anyone’s wondering if Peter’s really talking about our method, turn to page 204 of his book, where he acknowledges our first book by name, as a resource, and again mentions our “excellent results.”

Thanks Peter!

Whole Wheat Brioche from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!


(picture from color insert of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, taken by Mark Luinenburg)

The brioche dough in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day was the very first recipe I developed after meeting Jeff and deciding to write the book together. It seemed a natural place to start considering my pastry chef roots and absolute love of this quintessential enriched bread. I had plenty of experience making it the traditional way after working in a restaurant with Andrew Zimmern. He put a fabulous sandwich on the lunch menu that was served on fresh brioche. I went to work early, got the butter to just the right temperature, made sure the room was also at the proper temperature and then set about on the long journey which is brioche dough. Too much work, although fabulous. Fast forward a decade and I meet Jeff, he introduces me to his method and I try melting the butter and just dumping it, along with all the other ingredients in a bucket and quickly stirring. Low and behold I have a luxurious brioche dough in a couple minutes of stirring. I was thrilled and only wished I’d figured this out when Andrew set that lunch menu all those years ago.

For Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day we still wanted to offer a variation of sweets and enriched breads, but they had to fit with our goal of healthier ingredients. This meant less white flour, less sweeteners, less fat and yet still delicious, tender and rich. It took some time to develop, but we came to just the right balance and now I use this dough for everything from a Tarte Tatin crust to my kids’ sandwiches.

But, in the final push of producing the book some numbers were switched around and it makes the recipe as written in the book unworkable–this only affects the very first printing in 2009. We are sad to see any mistakes in the book, and in particular one that will be such a staple to our readers. We apologize and below is the correct recipe. (more…)

Thanks Andrew!

Andrew Zimmern endorses Healthy Bread in FIve

Andrew Zimmern’s phenomenal career is testament to the way Minneapolis has become a great food town–he got his start right here, at the long-departed (but wonderful) Bravo. And who was his pastry chef? Zoe Francois of course.

So we were flattered when Andrew started baking from an advance copy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and endorsed the book on the back cover:

“…Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg have amazingly demystified the arcane and delightful world of artisan bread. Now, on the heels of time sensitivity (Hello…5 minutes???  Really?  Yes!), comes a baking book for the health-conscious, and it couldn’t be more timely.  Bottom line, I would crawl across a desert of broken glass to hop into their loaf pan…”

–Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods America

Holiday Wreath Bread!

wreath bread

Tis the season for all things festive! Here is a very simple loaf that is gorgeous and will be the perfect addition to your holiday meal.  Despite its impressive appearance we promise it is easy to make.

You can watch Zoë make the Holiday Wreath loaf and a Panettone on KARE11 Showcase Minnesota.

We will also be doing a book signing at Cooks of Crocus Hill in Edina, MN this Thursday from 6-8:00pm. We’d love to see you all there!

Then on Friday December 12,  Jeff appeared on Fox 9 News at 8:30 am, to mix up more Holiday favorites in five minutes, and he also appeared on WMAR Channel 2 in Baltimore (the ABC affiliate) to show the same breads (click here to view).

Now for the Holiday Wreath Bread, and some Holiday gift suggestions: (more…)

Master Recipe for White-Flour dough: Great coverage in “The Week” Magazine, but there was one little problem…


Our book had great coverage in “The Week” magazine on April 18th (page 30 in the paper version).  But their version of our recipe has you throwing in 4 cups of water, rather than the correct 3 cups (see the fine print on the right, above).  Please use 3 cups, or you’ll have pancake batter!  The correct version of our basic recipe in the book (page 26) is:

3 cups  lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (can decrease to 1 tablespoon if you prefer the flavor of slower-risen doughs)

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (adjust to your taste)

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Cornmeal for the pizza peel

And then, you know the drill.  Mix with a spoon in a food-safe bucket, let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 5 hours, then into the fridge for two weeks.  Tear off chunks, shape, rest, and bake as needed.  And you all know you can decrease the yeast ( and the salt if you like it.  Details in the book.

But there it is, pretty much.

We’re interviewed on “The Splendid Table” National Public Radio show, 12/15/07

epiZoe and I were heard today on National Public Radio’s The Splendid Table, where we were interviewed by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. We got a chance to tell a national audience how our method works, and why stored dough is so extraordinarily different from traditional methods. There were terrific radio sound effects, like the pain d’epi (wheat-stalk bread) we’d brought, crackling obediently for Lynne’s microphone (Mark Luinenburg’s gorgeous picture of an epi is above). It was great fun to make contact with the show and the radio personality who helped launch our book. Seven years ago, I’d called in to the same show to ask how amateurs can get a cookbook published. An editor was listening, asked for a proposal, and voila! Zoe and I did the proposal (eventually), wrote the book (eventually), and now it’s in its third printing (eventually!) Click here to listen to the show… we’re about 13 minutes into the broadcast.

New video and great article by Rick Nelson in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Zoe and I were interviewed last month by Rick Nelson, food writer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the article came out on December 6, 2007. Rick was more than kind to us: “…If holiday gift-givers are aiming to buy one new cookbook title for the bakers in their lives, they should look no further than the remarkable Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day… Hertzberg and Francois should have called their burst of genius Breadmaking for Dummies — that’s how user-friendly it is… their master recipe is wildly flexible, generously adapting to a wide range of breads, pizzas, flatbreads and pastries.” Read the entire review.

We’re just as excited about Jenni Pinkley’s fantastic video that she shot for the paper’s website. Astute and attentive viewers will note Zoe’s incisive comment as the video closes. Click here to see the video. Speaking of video, I think Martha Stewart was talking about us when she interviewed legendary cookbook editor Judith Jones on The Martha Stewart Show that aired last week. Martha asked Judith (who edited Julia Child and James Beard) “what do you think of this wet bread that you hardly let rise, you hardly do anything to it, you just sort of put it in the oven?” Judith wasn’t buying; she told Martha that “kneading is the fun of making bread.” Martha asked her “I know, but what if you don’t have to?”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. See the video (click on the “video” tab once you get there; Martha brings up bread at 2:15 into the video).