Raspberry Custard Tart (Flan Parisien)

Raspberry Custard Tart | Zoe Francois(3 of 6)

This is a wonderful tart filled with vanilla custard. It’s one that you’ll find in every patisserie in Paris, but have likely never come across here in the states. Its rustic simplicity it exactly the kind of pastry I love. It’s really quite easy to create; a tart dough (this recipe uses a bit of potato flour, which makes it even more tender, because there is less gluten to get excited and tough) that goes up the sides of a ring mold baked with a pastry cream. I added raspberries to give it a bit more character, some tartness and they’re just pretty.  (more…)

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Birthday Cake

birthday cake(5 of 6)

Tomorrow is my son’s birthday and this is the cake he requested. My kids have always been opinionated about their birthday cakes, because I encouraged it. I like the challenge of creating something special for them. Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is a simple enough cake, but he’s turning 17, so it needed to stand tall, just like him.

I LOVE my devil’s food cake and it will always be my go to, but in the name of research, I am always trying new recipes. I tried this one from Stella Parks, BRAVETART cookbook. She and I seem to have a similar philosophy about sweet. We want it to be there, because it’s a cake, but it shouldn’t hurt your teeth or be the dominant flavor. We also have a fondness for testing recipes and her’s always work, which is something you’d think was a given in cookbooks, but sadly isn’t always the case. So far everything I’ve tried in this book have been spot on and delicious.

Her Devil’s Food cake is made in a saucepan. I was skeptical, but she nailed it. It’s dark, bitter (in a GREAT way) and moist. The milk chocolate whipped ganache is creamy and sweet, which pairs perfectly with the cake, just as she claims it will. Her cream cheese icing is made with pastry cream and has a rich, tangy taste and holds it’s shape WAY better than cream cheese icing made with powdered sugar. (more…)

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Coffee, Bourbon & Chocolate Baked Alaska

baked alaska | ZoeBakes(4 of 7)

This weekend I fulfilled a dream, (one I didn’t know I had until I did it), to be a radio talk show host. That’s a generous description of what I was doing on the Weekly Dish, but it was the kind job title Stephanie March offered when she invited me to sit in for her co-host (Stephanie Hansen), who was busy being on vacation. Luckily, I was not filling this role alone, our friend Stephanie Meyer, was also on the air for the 2 hour show. I had a ball, but what I learned is that the “Stephanies,” as they are lovingly known, make this job seem so easy and effortless. They are hilarious, smart, quick and have an endless knowledge of what is going on in the Mpls food community (and a fair bit about the rest of the country too). I loved every second of it, but don’t think I’ll be giving up my day job.

After the show we went across the street to a neighborhood bar with a long list of coffee drinks, it was only 11am, so booze should be served with caffeine. Stephanie March ordered a coffee, bourbon and black walnut drink, because…bourbon. I took one sip and said “Baked Alaska!” We were due for a snow storm that night, and all the predictions were that we’d be trapped inside. A baked Alaska made with ice cream of espresso bean, chocolate shavings, a splash of bourbon, sitting on a layer of devil’s food and then covered with toasted meringue seemed the perfect way to weather the storm.

For the recipe.


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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake!

heart cake | Breadin5 (2 of 5)

This cake was designed by my 9 year old son (who is now 18). He even instructed me on how I should put it together. His plan was to bake a sheet of cake and cut the layers with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Then stack them together with raspberry cream and pour a glossy chocolate ganache over the top. I know I’m biased, but I think he is brilliant.

Happy Valentines to my two sons, Henri and Charlie, and my husband Graham. My 3 muses.

Here is Henri’s vision, I must say it is as delicious as it is pretty. (more…)

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Banana Bread Roll from Smitten Kitchen’s New Book

banana roll cake Smitten Kitchen (5 of 5)

There’s nothing more satisfying than cutting into a rolled cake to reveal the swirl in the middle. It’s just fun. This banana bread roll is filled with a cream cheese frosting and it is delicious. The recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers and cookbook authors, Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen (as if she needs introducing). In her new book Smitten Kitchen Every Day she dusts the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar and it’s perfectly elegant. I decided to use meringue, because I just did a video series on Instagram about the 3 types of meringues, so I’m a little obsessed with it right now and figured this cake would be super fun topped with a Phyllis Diller-esque hairdo. You can watch me make this cake (and many other recipes) on Instagram in my stories (they will also live in my “highlights” archive). I’ve been teaching baking and pastry for 20 years (wow, just added that up!) and I love the new challenge of fitting these recipe lessons into 15 second segments. If you haven’t checked them out, I hope you will, I’m having a ball creating them.

Deb was kind enough to allow me to share her Banana Bread Roll recipe with you here. I highly recommend her book for other desserts and her always amazing savory recipes. (more…)

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Bûche de Noël ~ Christmas Yule Log

bwca (2 of 5)

This is a classic French dessert that is served at Christmas time. Bûche de Noël translates as the “Christmas Log” and is meant to look like the piece of wood you are about to toss into the fireplace. It is a rather odd tradition and yet I find myself making one every year. It always reminds me of the TV station that plays Christmas music and shows nothing but a burning log in a fireplace. I thought those were just memories of my long ago childhood, but I was amazed to see that the burning log still finds its place on YouTube even today.

Despite my unglamorous association there is something quite elegant and beautiful about the Bûche de Noël. According to Larousse Gastronomique the yule log cake tradition started in the 1870s when Parisian pastry chefs decided to replace the less elaborate brioche style fruit loaf with this more festive confection. Although I am quite partial to the Panettone style breads, I can see why pastry chefs created something a little more fussy to work on, that is just how we are!

If you came to this post through Instagram, you will see that this cake is slightly different than the one in my video, but the process is the same.


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