By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Zoë François is convinced that she can help anyone perfect homemade bread, including her mom.

“When I was growing up I don’t think my mother ever turned the oven on,” laughed François, a Minneapolis pastry chef turned cookbook author. “The fact that she could bake this bread I knew everyone in the world could.”

In 2007, François co-authored “Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day” with a longtime friend, Dr. Jeff Hertzberg. Ten years later, they have seven bestselling books and more than 500 different bread recipes — success she said she did not anticipate.

“I would say zero. Zero idea how big it would get,” she said.

The secret is in batching a bucket of dough. The measuring and mixing only takes five minutes. And there’s no kneading.

“It’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s fast,” François said.

Sure, you have to let it sit for two hours for the yeast to do its job, but then you’re ready.

“We have people on our website saying they never buy bread any more, they only bake it. Which is … Woo! This is our goal,” she said.

The latest version of the “Bread in Five” book series amps up the sweet factor: “Holiday and Celebration Bread In Five Minutes A Day.”

“This was the book I always wanted to write, because it’s pretty much all the sweets,” she said.

There are chapters on Challah master dough, and Christmas breads, but the holidays and celebrations cross the globe.

“We also have Easter and Ramadan breads, we have breads from every culture,” she said.

Since there was religion, she said, there have been breads that go with the celebrations.

Zoe’s Holiday Star Bread has been blowing up on Instagram. A recipe that looks so pretty and so complicated, but in their typical manner, François and Hertzberg simplify it.

“You cut it in 16 pieces, take two and twist them away from each other three times. and then connect them,” said François.

More than 100,000 people follow her ZoeBakes Instagram account, a huge change from her early days writing recipes.

“We wouldn’t know if anyone was baking it or not. And now? Instagram. It’s amazing isn’t it,” she said.

When she put up video instructions for the Star Bread on her Instagram page.

Halfway around the world, an Italian baker was working on this beauty …

… picture after picture of star breads with Jam …

… this one with Nutella.

“People really are connecting over baking. Which I think is just incredible,” she said.

Click here to see a recipe for challah bread.

Jason DeRusha

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