Strawberry Mascarpone Cake with Raspberry Cream and a Fondant Crown

Pink Crown Cake | ZoeBakes (1 of 17)

A friend asked me to create a cake for a 6-year-old with a fondness for tiaras and all things sparkly. As the mother of two boys who were never that into sparkles, I jumped at the chance to play with rolled fondant and make something worthy of a princess party. I knew exactly which recipe would suit the occasion, since I’ve been reading through Abby Dodge’s newest book, the EVERYDAY BAKER. Abby has a gorgeous pink cake with layers of strawberry mascarpone icing and tender white cake, which struck me as a perfect base for a pink fondant crown, but also sophisticated enough for all the adults at the party.

20160115-Pink Crown Cake | ZoeBakes (2 of 17)

Abby Dodge has been sharing her knowledge of baking for years in her many books, in national magazines and in her Baking Boot Camp Craftsy class. The EVERYDAY BAKER is no ordinary baking book, it is a full education in the art of pastry making. Abby lovingly takes you through the techniques of baking wonderful cookies, cakes, breads, pies, and more. She’ll guide you through with such grace and joy that none of it will seem intimidating for even the novice bakers. She has been an inspiration to me as a baker and cookbook author and I am thrilled that she has joined me in a giveaway of her essential book. Please leave a note in the comments about what pastry you’d most like to learn for a chance to win a copy of her book. (The contest is open to US and Canadian addresses). (more…)

Read More


eclairs 02

“Lightning!” That’s the literal translation from French I got when I put éclair into google translate. I’ve read a couple of explanations for this name, but only one makes any sense to me. “They disappear in a flash, quicker than a bolt of lightning.” This is the absolute truth. Éclairs are a formula for deliciousness…Starting with delicate pâte à choux (which has a rather indelicate translation of “paste of cabbage.” Representative of the cabbage shape, when piped into a profiterole (cream puff) and baked, not at all indicative of its lovely, buttery, rich flavor and light texture). The choux is piped into the shape of a small log. Once baked and cooled the log is filled with Crème pâtissière, “pastry cream,” which is simply custard that is thickened with both eggs and a starch, usually corn starch and flavored in this case with vanilla and white chocolate. The custard filled pastry is traditionally decorated with fondant, the shiny poured variety, not the rolled one we use for cakes. I find poured fondant, which translates as “melting,” (probably because it melts in your mouth or melts away your teeth with its sugary cloying-ness), much too sweet, so I use ganache. Ganache is a smooth mixture of chocolate and something else (cream, butter, coffee, water, booze, crème fraîche and/or anything else you can think of). There is no translation for ganache, but it stems from the word “jowl,” which I can’t even begin to ponder. I hope you all know that despite my very French name, Zoë François, meaning “Life Frenchman,” I don’t speak the language at all and therefore I will most likely be corrected by my French-speaking readers. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. Despite the odd names of all these things, they are quite sensational and will be consumed at lightning speed.  (more…)

Read More

Working with Rolled Fondant (3 part Video Series)

rolled fondant

It is smooth and sophisticated, but there is a mystique about working with rolled fondant that keeps too many people from using it. Fondant reminds me of Play-Doh, you can create everything from an intricate wedding cake to a birthday cake in the shape of a Tonka truck. Your imagination and few helpful hints will open up a new world of cake decorating options. I chose this simple winter motif to get us started. First, we have to choose our color and tint the fondant, next we’ll cover the cake in the perfectly smooth fondant and to finish we’ll add simple snowflakes.

I’ve broken the videos into 3 parts: coloring the fondant, covering the cake and decorating. Enjoy and happy holiday baking! (more…)

Read More

Black and White Sesame Tuile for the Daring Baker Challenge!

Last summer Graham and I went to NYC to eat, take in a few museums, visit with cousins and eat some more. Graham’s cousin Riad is the executive chef at Pastis and Balthazar (and the author of the The Balthazar Cookbook).  It goes without saying that Riad is an amazing culinary guide. I’ve never eaten so well and so much in my entire life!

After a 12 course meal at Devi (you must eat Suvir Saran’s food at least once in your life), Riad took us to meet Johnny Iuzzini, the extraordinary pastry chef at Jean Georges. They worked together at Daniel and Riad wanted to show off Johnny’s talents. We arrived at 11pm and Johnny marched through the dining room carrying 24 desserts. Twenty Four exquisitely plated desserts, plus truffles and other small delicacies he whipped up. They were absolutely gorgeous, so despite the 12 courses we had just consumed, we tasted them all! The perfect evening.

For this month’s Daring Baker Challenge I made White and Black Sesame Tuiles perched on Coconut Ice Cream, all inspired by recipes from Johnny’s new book Dessert FourPlay. (more…)

Read More