Local baker and author Zoë Francois is most well-known for convincing us all to keep a bucket of bread dough in our refrigerators at the ready. Her book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (co-authored with Jeff Hertzberg) and the follow-up Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day encourages average Joes to make bread baking part of the everyday routine. Of course, Francois doesn't stop there: Her blog will make you foam at the mouth with posts about cakes, meringues, and her favorite--doughnuts.
1. Do you have a favorite holiday recipe you come back to each year? Maybe a family tradition of sorts? My granny has a real sweet tooth. When I was a kid she baked dozens of cookies every holiday season, just for the family. She presented them in decorative tins and glass dishes. She made it look so festive and effortless. Now I realize how much time she must have dedicated to this tradition. I inherited her sweet tooth and love of baking, but I have a different lineup of sweets that I make, every year I switch it up.
2. What's your go-to Christmas cookie? This year I will be making chocolate biscotti with candied pink grapefruit, chocolate covered espresso toffee ,and coconut "haystack" macaroons. These are not Granny's recipes, but I think she will love them.
3. What recipe would you recommend to someone who wants to make an impressive holiday dessert? A Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule log cake) is always a showstopper. You can go all out with meringue mushrooms or just a sprinkle of powdered sugar to look like snow. The good news is that the cake isn't as hard to create as it looks.
4. What non-baking recipes do you like to make? Are you secretly a dynamo on the grill, or a closet crock pot user? I have to admit I made my very first crock pot dinner this month during the big snowstorm. Let's just say I haven't perfected the art, yet.
5. Do you ever crave non-artisan delights? Like a fluffernutter on Wonder bread, for example? My secret love is doughnuts. I like them filled with jelly or custard and topped with chocolate or cream cheese icing, sometimes even sprinkles. I am helping Steven Brown with the dessert menu for his new restaurant, Tilia, and doughnuts will be making an appearance. It turns out Steven is a big fan too. He goes for maple long Johns with sugar-salted peanuts on top. Those little beauties will be on the brunch menu.
I can honestly say I've never eaten a slice of Wonder bread, but fluffernutter on really good homemade bread has its place.
6. What's next for you and Jeff book-wise? Jeff and I just sent in the manuscript for Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day to the publisher. It will be out the fall of 2011. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and this book allowed me to eat it three times a day. My kids say it is our best book.