“Red Hot” Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This week was my husband’s birthday and he requested a true American classic for his cake, Boston cream pie. Light pillowy sponge cake with layers of rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with a smooth chocolate glaze. Why do we call this cake a pie? It was invented in the 1850s by a French pastry chef working in Boston. My theory is that he got lost in translation and mistakenly called it a pie! (But I’m making that last bit up.) Whether the name fits or not hardly matters, it is delicious. In fact, my family loved it so much the four of us ate the entire 8-inch cake in one sitting. I was thrilled except I never got a picture of it for this post.

The next day a package arrived in the mail from the White On Rice Couple, Diane and Todd. It was a perfect stick of Vietnamese cinnamon bark. I had won it during a giveaway they had on their fabulous website. It is not an exaggeration to say that this gift has changed my life. Read More

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This past week I taught several classes on bread baking. We made breads from my book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that fit the cooling weather, like oatmeal pumpkin bread. The recipe calls for a roasted “pie” pumpkin, but only uses 1 cup of it. I promised all the wonderful people in my class that I would come up with a way to use the rest of that pumpkin puree and share it here. Every year at this time I make a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake, in fact I make a few of them, by demand. It tastes like the richest, creamiest pumpkin pie you will ever eat. Even people who swear they don’t like pumpkin love this cheesecake.

I topped it with some beautiful red fruits, including sugared cranberries. The tartness combined with the crisp sugar coating is a perfect compliment to the smoothness of the cake.

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Happy Blog-iversary Cake

This month I am celebrating so many things I felt it necessary to make myself a cake and have a party, with you! As you all know by now it is my blog-iversary, but it is also my birthday in a couple of weeks, the first anniversary of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (75,000 in print, oh my!), the election is FINALLY here and this just happens to be my 100th post! To say the least November is a BIG month for me!

The very talented and generous folks at Crooked Brook, where I get all of my chef jackets, sent me a wonderful apron (see picture below) to give away! Leave a comment and I’ll pick the winner next Sunday and send it off, just in time for Thanksgiving!

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Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse Cake

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Last week I made a Génoise, the classic ethereal cake that is the perfect base for so many desserts. It is a cake just begging to be flavored with a syrup. If left all alone it can be a bit on the dry side. In fact, it is also known as a sponge cake, because it soaks up the flavors you add and holds them perfectly. The trick is knowing how to add the flavors so the cake is moist but not soggy. I decided to go with a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, I layered the whole thing with milk chocolate mousse, enrobed it in a cinnamon buttercream and covered it in rolled fondant for my much hyped blog-iversary cake. 😉 Here’s how I made the cake and all its layers.  Next I will decorate it, I promise!:

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Basics: Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 2

fondant cut out in the shape of the word fondant next to a marble rolling pin on a silpat

More than half of the cakes I do for clients are covered with fondant. It is gorgeous, sleek and can be simple or ornate.  Over the years I’ve tried just about every product out there and have loved some and loathed others. Some are easy to use but have no taste feel like chewing gum in your mouth. Others are melt in your mouth and have a pleasant flavor, but are nearly impossible to work with unless the conditions are just right. Not to mention the cost. For those of you who have worked with it you know it is very spendy, as we say here in MN. So make your own and get the flavor, the texture and the price you like. It is very easy, albeit a tad messy, but most of all fun!

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Basics: Génoise and Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 1

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m gearing up for my one year blog-iversary next week and I’m making myself a cake. On the way to that celebratory occasion, I’ve made a few of the basic elements in the pastry kitchen: génoise and homemade rolled fondant. As Sherry Yard says in the opening of her génoise recipe from The Secrets of Baking, this simple cake is a test of pastry chefs technical prowess. It is used in competitions and in restaurant job interviews to see if you were paying attention in culinary school. Génoise is a basic cake used for weddings, birthdays, jellyrolls, petits fours and many more classic desserts. I love this delicious, light and versatile cake when it is baked well. You can add flavored syrup to it without it disintegrating into mush, it holds up to buttercream, ganache, fondant and anything else you can think of. It may seem old school, but I think génoise really is essential and can be easy if you have the right recipe and the proper technique.

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