Croissants 101

croissant | ZoeBakes(3 of 4)

There are very few things as satisfying as a perfect croissant. Flaky, tender, just the right amount of pull and give, and BUTTERY. Have you ever made one? Probably not, because they’re labor intensive and require a bit of skill to “laminate” the dough. This is an industry term for layering the butter within the dough. It’s not hard, but it requires some patience and a good amount of time to do it right. I’ve had more requests on my instagram account for a video on how to make them than anything else. So, that’s what I’ve done. I learned this technique at the CIA and I’ve changed nothing (well, I cut them differently, so as not to waste a bit of dough). If you haven’t visited my instagram stories, you’ll find tutorials (set to the music in my head) for everything from macarons to meringue (because I love using my blow torch) and I take requests for things people are having troubles with in their own kitchens.

Here is the recipe for the croissants, but the instructions are basically useless without the visuals, so come to my instagram account (you’ll find the video on my homepage in the “highlights” archive. Just look for croissants 101. (more…)

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Ice Cream Cake – (Mother’s Day Giveaway: Lékué silicone springform pan)

Ice Cream Cake | ZoeBakes (3 of 10)

I was just looking back on some of my Mother’s Day posts and I realized how much I love meringue. I especially like the effect of spiking it into a Phillis Diller-esque topping. It works on cakes, pies, cheesecake and ice cream. Meringue is as light as air, playful, yet sophisticated and most importantly gives you an opportunity to whip out the blow torch. Unless you are a hard core meringue fan, you will want to pair it with something. Lemon is classic, and something sour makes sense, since the white pillowy topping is super sweet, but you can go with something a touch savory too. I made a Honey Saffron Chocolate Chip ice cream and then sweetened the meringue topping with honey and vanilla bean. There is actually NO SUGAR in this dessert. Okay, I know honey is a type of sugar, but I’m talking about the refined, granulated cane/beet sugar. The honey flavor is mellow and delicate with just a subtle hint of saffron in the ice cream. I didn’t tell my family what the flavors were before they dove in. Being pretty will get them to try it, but the flavor will clean the plate. They loved it.

As a Mother’s Day gift to all of you, I teamed up with Lékué* (Lee-quay) to give away FOUR of the rectangular silicone springform pans I made this cake in. I’ve used it for baking cheesecakes and breads, but it is also excellent for making chilled or frozen desserts. For a chance to win all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. You probably saw something pop up on your screen when you came to the site. If you passed by the pop up without filling it out, no worries, you can find it on the right hand side of the website, where it says SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER. I think you’ll enjoy getting updates about what I am up to and I’ll be using my newsletter to do giveaways, like the one today. If you’ve already joined my newsletter (many of you have, Thank YOU!), there is nothing else to do, you are automatically entered to win. Keep an eye out for my emails, since it is all very new, they may end up in folders you don’t expect. This giveaway is only available to folks in the USA and Canada.

Ice Cream Cake | ZoeBakes (1 of 2)-2

My sons taught me to use Snapchat and I am loving it. I just did a video series on making bread in a forming basket/brotform/banneton. And I’ll be doing other videos as people want to see certain techniques. Please join me if you’re on Snapchat or if you’ve been curious to try it. You can find me at zoebakes1


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Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream – (Five Tips for Super Creamy Ice Cream Every Time)

Strawberry Ice Cream | ZoeBakes (2 of 10)

There are some secrets to great ice cream. It doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, but having the right ingredients, technique and equipment can go a long way toward success. Here are 5 tips for creamy ice cream every time and a recipe for my family’s favorite strawberry ice cream.

1. Ingredients: Fresh is great, but not a must. I used frozen strawberries for this ice cream and it was AMAZING! In fact, they often pick and freeze the very best fruit. You want to get the IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit, which means they are frozen separately, then bagged together, so they aren’t stuck in a massive clump and they have no syrups or other additives. (more…)

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Canelés de Bordeaux

caneles | zoebakes 17

These fluted confections are the official dessert of the Bordeaux region of France. I’ve tried several recipes for canelé and this one from Edd Kimber’s new book Patisserie Made Simple is the closest I have found to the real deal. The interior texture isn’t quite as dense, but the flavor is like a lovely, creamy custard that is rich with both vanilla and rum. The trick to success with making canelé is using copper molds lined with beeswax and butter. The less expensive silicone molds unfortunately don’t achieve the same crisp outer shell, which in my opinion is the whole reason to eat them.

The crêpe-like batter is simple to make, but the process is a touch fussy and requires a few days of planning. I don’t mean to scare you off, since the outcome is delicious and sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for. But, to do canelé de Bordeaux justice, you must have patience and the right tools. (more…)

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My Kitchen Remodel (before and after)

Kitchen with boys 03

(picture by Wing Ta of Canary Grey for MSP magazine)

Two years ago my husband and I bought a house. It’s a gob-smacking piece of 1902 architecture with ornate woodwork, the likes of which I’d never seen before. It was built by T.P. Healy, who made a name for himself in Minneapolis building homes for the flour barons and other folks making it big in the milling town. Our house was once a grand gesture of a time of wheat prosperity, but it fell on hard times, as did the country, when the depression hit and it eventually became a boarding house and then apartments. Luckily for us and for the preservation of history, the house was kept in pretty good condition, considering the number of people who ended up owning it and living there. By the time we bought the house it was broken up into 4 apartments, which was honestly part of the appeal. Not that we intended to rent the apartments out, in fact, it is only zoned as a duplex, so two of them were illegal. The draw was the 4 kitchens that came with all those apartments. I had visions of having a “family” kitchen and then using one of the others as a studio to work in. For the first several months that is exactly what I did. At first it was awesome, I cooked meals on the first floor where I had a great gas range, ran up to the second floor, which had the best oven in the house to bake and then to the third floor kitchen to photograph, because the light is AWESOME up there. This was all good fun, then I realized that I was doing about 12 trips up and down the stairs per recipe. Quite a workout plan, but not exactly efficient for my work day. None of the apartment kitchens really fit the bill, but as a combined effort they were proving less effective than I’d fantasized. This became abundantly clear while a team of 6 people tried to shoot the photos for The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We all jogged up and down, which I’d come to think as normal, but they moaned as they baked on one floor and shot on another. The photo shoot also took days longer than expected as a result. The next week I had an architect, Gregg Hackett, drawing up plans for one kitchen that would satisfy all the needs. A few months later Blue construction moved in and built it.


We were really lucky to have the original blueprints (above) from 1902 to work from and we tried to put the kitchen back to where it had been originally. This meant taking out a bedroom and bathroom to make space. The pictures below are a before and after of that renovation.

The finished kitchen is featured this month in both Fine Cooking Magazine’s Behind the Kitchen Door and Mpls/St Paul Magazine’s Home Tour. First I spent a wonderful day shooting with Chuck Miller from Fine Cooking and my neighbor, friend, fellow food blogger and cookbook author, Stephanie Meyer, who helped style my kitchen. The editors at the magazine were particularly taken with my cake stand collection and are doing a GIVEAWAY  of a pair of cake stands, just click here to enter. Then the team from MSP magazine came by and we had an absolute blast tossing pizzas and flour around the kitchen with my boys. It is incredible to see the space through the talented lenses of these folks. To see all their photos check out the articles, the photos below are just my snap shots.


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Installing my new BlueStar Rangetop and Prizer Hood – Kitchen Remodel

Zoe and BlueStar zb 01

Last year I bought a new house. It had 4 kitchens. I thought I would use one for cooking with my family, one for my “studio/work space” and the others were, well I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. There is a decent explanation for all of these cooking spaces; the house was an apartment building when we bought it. My husband and I are just crazy enough to find this project an adventure.  You’ll be happy to know that we are still happily married, we continue to love the house, but the reality of having all those kitchens wasn’t nearly as romantic as I had fantasized. They were all on different floors, so if I left my favorite balloon whisk on the top floor, but I need to whip eggs on the first floor, I had to run up and down again to get it. I ended up losing 5 pounds (not a bad fitness plan) and was getting frustrated in the middle of all my recipes. I could either duplicate every piece of equipment I owned or give up the whole notion and go with one kitchen. After months of using the house as a stairmaster, we decided a single kitchen made the most sense.

I needed to choose new appliances. The ones that came with the house were from the 1960s and no longer worked as they were intended. I originally went with a 48″ Wolf rangetop and hood that I found, virtually unused, on craigslist. It really worked fine, but I wasn’t blown away with the strenth of the burners and I didn’t care for the griddle, which I never used. I always wished I had the extra burners instead. So, when I was approached by BlueStar about being part of their BlueStar Chefs program, I jumped at the chance. I wanted the kind of fire power I had when I worked in restaurant kitchens, at home. I liked the fact that it can cook the pants off the Wolf (the open burners and extra BTUs are a little bit crazy, in a good way). With all that extra power I went with a Prizer hood, which is strong enough to vent the rangetop and it even sucks the smoke from my pizza baking across the room. Since this is my home office and I like to work in a fun space, the fact that I can pick knobs in any color, well that’s just cool too.  (But, every time I pick a color from the 190 choices, my mood changes and I want a new one.) Until I can make up my mind, I’ll stick with the black, which goes with every apron I own.  Now that I have this magnificent fire beast, I’ve vowed to stretch my dinner repertoire.  (more…)

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