Apple Almond Galette

Apple Almond Galette | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Fall was always my favorite time of year when I was growing up in Vermont. The leaves turned into jewels hanging on the trees and that meant apple season was in full throttle. The warm apple sauce, cider doughnuts, apple butter, and apple pies were all plentiful and made the chilling nights tolerable. To this day apple pie is my ultimate comfort food, I think it’s essential for the soul. This Apple Almond Galette is just an apple pie without the plate or a top crust. So, it’s even easier than pie to make and I think just as beautiful in a fruit forward, rustic way. It seemed the exact right dessert to make when JK Adams sent me a dreamy baker’s package with a rolling pin, pastry board and walnut Lazy Susan. All made by craftspeople in Dorset, Vermont. I’ve admittedly had a certain nostalgia for all things Vermont ever since I moved to the Midwest. There is something fundamentally stalwart about that state and the handmade products (and food) that are made there. JK Adam’s obsession with quality and sustainability speak to me in a profound way and why they have a lifetime guarantee on everything they make. Most importantly their products just feel good in my hands, which is key to baking wonderful desserts. 

You can watch me make this Apple Almond Galette in my Instagram Video and here is the recipe: 

Apple Almond Galette | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François (more…)

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French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

When I moved to Minneapolis from Vermont, I hadn’t expected to experience culture shock. I was raised mostly in New England with stints in Northern California. Somehow, those places, as far from each other as they can get on a map, are more alike than the vast land in the middle. I understood the food of the coasts, including the pie, dominated by apple and pumpkin or even lemon meringue. But, the Midwest has a pie culture all its own. I first learned of French Silk Pie in the 1990s from a local Minneapolis newspaper’s people choice award. Every year Bakers’ Square would win “best dessert” in Minneapolis with their French Silk Pie. I was painfully aware of this because I was baking my heart out at a local restaurant and despite all my efforts, I could never touch this pie’s popularity. I did finally taste one, and IMHO, it was sweet and lacking in any real chocolate flavor, but the texture was certainly worthy of the name. Out of spite (I was young and sillier then), I never served a French Silk Pie in any restaurant I worked at and honestly, this is the VERY first one I have ever baked. It comes from the beautiful new baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, by Shauna Sever. Not only did Shauna change my heart about this pie, but has taught me so much about the culture of baking in my own backyard. This pie is everything people loved about the one from Bakers’ Square, but is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go, I offer both ways below. This recipe uses raw eggs, which doesn’t bother Shauna or me in the least, but if you are at all worried about eating raw egg, then buy pasteurized ones. 

You can watch me make Shauna’s pie in my instagram video and she graciously shared the recipe, which is below.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Pear Panna Cotta Cake

Pear Panna Cotta Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up my paternal grandmother made a dessert she called “Swedish Cream” on Christmas day. It was rich beyond imagining (at least when I was a child) and its arrival meant the festivities were coming to a close, because we’d all slip into a Christmas Swedish Cream dream state and the adults dozing off usually followed. Much, much later in life, while at culinary school, I realized it was a sour cream panna cotta that she’d been making all those years. My Pear Panna Cotta Cake is inspired by my Granny’s dessert, but I went a little pastry chef with it. I combined Swedish Cream with a poached pear puree and then topped it with a layer of the poaching liquid delicately set into a Jelly with gelatin and put it on a base of almond joconde sponge cake. The dessert is multiple layers and it takes a wee bit of time, but it is actually super easy to make. You can also stop with one or two layers if that’s all time allows. To decorate the sides I sliced pears on a mandoline and dried them in the oven, which couldn’t be easier and they look so stunning. In her memory I will carry on my Granny’s tradition of ending the holiday meal with a smooth, rich, delicate Pear Panna Cotta Cake. 

You can watch me make the Pear Panna Cotta Cake in my instagram video

Pear Panna Cotta Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Instant Sourdough Doughnuts

Instant Sourdough Doughnuts | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In 2005 when my co-author, Jeff, and I wrote the first edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, people were just coming out of the Atkins Diet fog and were longing desperately for bread. We offered a simple, fast and delicious approach to baking bread that ANYONE could embrace. Fast forward to today and half my Instagram feed is filled with the most gorgeous loaves of sourdough bread, being baked in shops and at home. But, not everyone has the time to devote to creating, feeding and maintaining a starter. I have one and it mostly sits dehydrated in my pantry. So, when Red Star Yeast* came out with an Instant Sourdough Yeast, complete with real rye-based sourdough culture, I was super excited to give it a try. I’ve used Red Star Yeast products for decades and trust their yeast to ALWAYS get the job done, and with the highest quality. I was thrilled with the results and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants all the flavor of sourdough without the wait.

Because I love sweets more than anything, I wanted to play with the Instant Sourdough Yeast in our no-knead Brioche Dough, based on a recipe from our newest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day. And, well, doughnuts are always top of mind for me. Adding Instant Sourdough Yeast to doughnuts gives them a spectacular flavor and wonderful rise. You can always control the depth of flavor you want. By using the stored Brioche dough just after it is mixed and refrigerated, you’ll have a really mellow sour flavor from the Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast, that adds a hint of complexity to the doughnuts, but is subtle. If you make more doughnuts from that same batch 24 hours later (you’ll have enough dough for a few batches) the sour flavor increases as the dough ferments, which is true in all of our stored Five Minute doughs. You can also freeze the dough to lock in the flavor you like best. Since there is also instant yeast in the mix, it will ALWAYS rise, without fail. 

I made a Berry Icing to go with the Instant Sourdough Doughnuts, because it is so fresh and sweet. You can dust the doughnuts in confectioners’ sugar or top with a chocolate ganache. 

Coffe, Doughnut and Red Star Yeast Packets | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Anthropologie Catalog Dessert Recipes: (Poached Pear Tart, Creme Brûlée, Apple Crisp)

Fall Fruit Tart | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

It is with delight that I share with you the desserts I created for the current Anthropologie Catalog, which you can find in the stores and on their website. They invited me to Philadelphia to bake and style the desserts and I had an absolute blast. It is a funny world I occupy, most of it spent alone in my kitchen, virtually interacting with all the wonderfully talented folks I’ve met online. So, when presented with the opportunity to work with the creative force that puts out the Anthropologie catalog, it took me less than an instant to reply with an enthusiastic, YES! And, as if that weren’t enough of an honor, they put my tart on the cover (below). Mind Blown. You can read the lovely piece they wrote about me and you’ll find the recipes for The Poached Pear Tart, Creme Brûlée and Apple Cranberry Crisp below. 

The videos for all of the desserts can be found on my @ZoeBakes Instagram account.

Anthropologie Catalog Tart Photo | ZoeBakes photo by Amy Batog (more…)

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Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The only thing better than a single peanut butter cookie, are two with chocolate and peanut butter mousse between them in the perfect Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies! My friend and business strategist extraordinaire, Stephani, is pregnant and manages to work peanut butter sandwich cookies into every conversation we have. There’s no stopping the cravings of a pregnant woman and I think they may be contagious. These cookies are from the pages of the newest baking book from Bake From Scratch, The Cookie Collection. The book is a compilation of many recipes from their magazine and special issue editions and even includes some recipes from yours truly. I had Stephani in mind when I chose to make these, instead of my Piñon Mexican Wedding Cookies or Caramelized White Chocolate Sables with Sea Salt, which are both terrific, but I’ve made them many times and well, cravings! In the recipe from The Cookie Collection, they made the sandwiches with jelly, which seems like the perfect lunch box treat, but I went with a ganache instead, both ways will satisfy.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François  

You can watch me make these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies in my Instagram video and recipe below. (more…)

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