Rainbow Chip Cake!

Rainbow Chip Cake 08

It just takes a tweet to get a company like General Mills to realize they’ve made a big mistake. Ok, the tweet has to come from Katy Perry and then be backed up by the frosting evangelist, Benjamin Johnson, who started a change.org campaign and got 7,000 Rainbow Chip Frosting fans to petition its return. Betty Crocker heard the call and is bringing back the well-missed confection, after removing it from the shelves 2 years ago. I got to be a part of this historic frosting moment. I was invited to a surprise party for Benjamin at the Betty Crocker test kitchen to celebrate his victory.

I didn’t grow up with this frosting, but Katy Perry and Benjamin did. (My folks were trying to pass off raisins as candy during those formative years.) However, based on the outcry for the frosting’s return, (people were actually paying hundreds of dollars for cans of it on ebay), I suspect many of you remember it too. Well, you’re in luck, Read More

Cake Baker’s Apprentice (Chocolate Pretzel Crunch Cake and Pavlovas)

Chocolate Pretzel Cake (Matt Lien Photography) | ZoeBakes 10

It’s really not that unusual for someone to leave a panicked comment saying they have offered to make the cake for their best friend’s wedding. I salute them and hope their BFF knows exactly what a loving gesture it is. My friend Molly asked me to help her come up with a dessert for her best friend’s big day. Molly is a gifted writer, a brilliant adventurer and has the wit and wisdom to keep Andrew Zimmern in line on their shared podcast, Go Fork Yourself, but she is NOT a baker. So, this request was done in a tone of slight trepidation. Besides working with Andrew she also has a blog called Hey Eleanor, where she chronicles overcoming of her greatest fears. She’s jumped out of a plane, bungeed off a bridge, she did stand up comedy (that’s what my nightmares are made of), quit her job and got married (her husband is awesome, so not much risk there). We’d always talked about baking together for her blog, but why not up the ante by trying to create something extra special for her friend’s most important day. No pressure there. We settled on a rather ambitious menu of individual chocolate pretzel crunch cakes and a rose scented pavlova with lemon curd and berries. She did an absolutely fantastic job, as she does with everything.

Chocolate Pretzel Cake (Matt Lien Photography) | ZoeBakes 09

Our journey in the kitchen was captured by Matt Lien. I spotted his photos on Facebook after he shot Sameh Wadi’s cookbook, The New Mediterranean Table. I immediately contacted Matt to gush over his gorgeous work and figure out a way to work together on something, anything.  That was just weeks ago and he was game to come over and play in the kitchen with Molly and me. These images perfectly capture how much fun we had and how easily Molly conquered her fear of baking. (Matt had to leave before we were finished, so the pictures of the final desserts are mine, which will be painfully obvious.)

Chocolate Pretzel Cake | ZoeBakes (photo Matt Lien) 01

Chocolate Pretzel Cakes

pavlova | ZoeBakes 01

Pavlova

Follow her adventure and maybe you’ll offer to make your friend’s wedding desserts, or a birthday cake.

Read More

Chocolate Marble Cake

Chocolate Marble Cake | Photo by Zoë François

My 15-year-old is not one to spend time cooking, so when he does I watch with delight. Turns out he’s been paying attention. He moved with confidence and ease as he made this chocolate marble cake, so there is hope he’ll leave home someday with at least a few skills in the kitchen. Truth be told, on this occasion I’d asked him to bake me a cake, because he owed me one. That, by the way, is a euphemism for the fact that he’d done something I wasn’t entirely thrilled with. He invited his friend over to help and they set out to bake me a cake with all the intensity and focus of real pastry chefs. It was awesome and tasty!

Henri and Sophie | ZoeBakes 02

Henri and Sophie wanted to make a chocolate marble cake, so I helped them find a recipe they could do without a lot of input from me. Read More

Pumpkin Cake – For Halloween or Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Cake decorated like a pumpkin | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Pumpkin season is here, which is the only reason I can send this short summer off with a smile. It is nature’s way of creating balance. We give up the sunny days, and get bright orange pumpkins to cheer us up. Much like zucchini, there is an endless bounty to be made from these winter gourds. Here is a spiced pumpkin cake that is absolutely delicious and needs no adornments to be appreciated. But, decorate it like a pumpkin and it becomes a centerpiece for any fall holiday table. The recipe makes two pumpkin cakes, so you can have one for home and bring one to a party.

Pumpkin Cake decorated like a pumpkin | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François Read More

Halloween Mummy Cakes

Halloween Mummy Cakes | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Every year at this time, I try to find some new ghoulish and creepy way to terrify my sweet young boys (in a motherly-love kind of way). Nothing like a coffin shaped cake, with a mummy laying on top to make them squeamish and thrilled to go at it with a fork. The vanilla cake, raspberry filling and chocolate ganache on a bed of oreo crumbs, may be spine tingling enough for kids on Halloween, but tasty enough for the parents as well. 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! Read More