Sticky Coconut Maple Bars

Sticky Coconut Maple Bars | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

My Granny Neal made a version of these Sticky Coconut Maple Bars every Christmas and I wrote a love letter to them and shared the recipe over at TheKitchn – Granny’s Christmas Bars! They’re really perfect for any occasion, but when I was a little kid they were a special treat reserved for Christmas morning. Enjoy! 

Sticky Coconut Maple Bars | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François 

Read More

My Favorite Baking Equipment

‘Tis the baking season and time to give gifts to your loved ones who bake pie, cake, bread, cookies and so much more. I’ve had lots of questions about my favorite baking equipment and what to get the bakers in your life. You can always find the list of what I am using in my kitchen in my “Shop” tab at the top of my website. I only post the products that I actually use and love. 

Start with a Blow Torch! It is a super fun and exciting tool that I use as often as I possibly can. It is great for toasting meringue, marshmallows and the sugar crust on creme brûlée. 

A pretty Pie Dish is super useful and makes it more likely your loved one will bake you a pie! 

Below are a few photos of the staples, but check out my full list here. 

A solid, heavy duty rolling pin will get used constantly, especially for the pie lovers and anyone who likes cinnamon buns. There is no right or wrong shape, but what is most comfortable to use. The rolling pins with handles are easier to use if you are rolling lots of stiff dough, but the French or Dowel pins allow you to have a better feel for the dough. I use the French (tapered dowel) and handled pins most often. Full selection here.

Rubber spatulas and bench scrapers are essential. If someone is just setting up kitchen these are the perfect gifts, since they are used constantly and super utilitarian. When you check out my full baking equipment list, you’ll find several sizes and brands that I use constantly.

Straight sided cake pans are maybe my most essential baking equipment. Sturdy and deep is how I like my cake pans.

Bread baking equipment and knives are perfect for those who are getting into baking their first loaf or playing with a 100 year old starter. You can get by with just a few things to bake a great loaf of bread or you can take it to the next level. Find more Bread baking equipment.

Bundt pans are a super fun and useful pan. Maybe my favorite cakes to bake, since a simple cake can look so spectacular. find them here: Baking Equipment

Cook books! There are so many to choose from and I have a list of all the books I have baked from recently and for decades. There are also a bunch that I wrote (like this one). 

 

This rolling rack, which is used to store my hot baking trays as they come out of the oven and where I can store baked goods, so they don’t clutter my counter is for the serious baker who is taking over the whole kitchen with all their baked goods. It’s a good thing! You’ll find everything from this rolling rack to my camera equipment in my Baking Equipment List! 

Read More

Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Purple Sweet Potato Pie with a mound of an Italian meringue inspired by Esther Williams (anyone younger than me will have to google her). I was gifted a box of super fun produce by my friend Chadwick Boyd and in the selection from Frieda’s were a pair of bright purple sweet potato. I knew immediately that they would be pie. With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, how could my mind go anywhere else with such a fun bounty. The real surprise came with the topping. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows has been a regular on many Thanksgiving tables, so it seemed natural to pile on meringue and toast it like a marshmallow (a pile of whipped cream would be super tasty too). What I hadn’t planned on was the color. I had reserved the bright purple cooking water after boiling the potatoes, because it was just too pretty to throw away. I typically use a Swiss meringue on a pie, but the Italian version requires making a syrup of sugar and water, which meant I could use my potato water (BOOM, that’s how I’d tint my meringue purple). I had visions of a lavender colored cloud sitting on top of the pie, but when I added the boiling purple syrup to the spinning egg whites it turned bright, bright, bright blue. I’m not entirely sure why, but some chemical reaction in that bowl changed my vision for this pie. I was faced with a bowl of super soft, BLUE meringue and I went for it. I piled it on and then used a star tip to create the swimming cap of a topping (did you look up Esther Williams yet?)

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

You can see the potatoes and meringue come together in my instagram video. Recipe below:

(more…)

Read More

Raisin Pecan Bread and a Holiday Bread Baking Giveaway!

Yesterday was my birthday and next week is Thanksgiving, so it seems an excellent time for a HOLIDAY BREAD BAKING GIVEAWAY! I am partnering with some of my all time favorite companies to create the ultimate bread baking package*. First let me tell you about the raisin pecan loaf that I baked from my book, New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Breadin5). I made our big batch of the Master Recipe using Platinum Yeast from Red Star Yeast, then pulled off a piece of dough, rolled in some raisins and pecans Using a French Rolling Pin from JK Adams, let it rest and scored the top with a super sharp Bread Knife from Shun Cutlery just before I baked it in an Emile Henry Cloche. Two days later I took out another piece of dough and rolled in olives and sharp VT cheddar. Five days later I grabbed yet another bit of dough, put it in a proofing basket and baked it as a pure and simple boule. If you have a bucket of dough on hand, you’ll have the base for all of these fantastic loaves. You can see the Cheese bread and Boule on my Instagram account. 

*You can recreate exactly what I did with this fantastic Bread Baking Package from all of these wonderful companies. I will pick THREE winners at random to win packages: 

A supply of Platinum Yeast from Red Star Yeast

A Rolling Pin from JK Adams

A Bread Knife from Shun Cutlery

A Bread Baking Cloche from Emile Henry 

and A copy of my book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

How to enter to win: There are two ways you can enter, leave a comment below, here on my website or on my Instagram post, just look for the photo of this bread! I will select THREE WINNERS in a few days. USA mailing addresses only!

You can watch me making the bread using all of these fantastic tools on my @zoebakes instagram account video. Recipe to follow.. (more…)

Read More

Boozy Cherry Pavlova

Boozy Cherry Pavlova | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

I think a pavlova is the perfect holiday dessert. It is beautiful enough to be a center piece on your table, so light that it can follow a big holiday meal and it’s flavors can change with your every whim. This Boozy Cherry Pavlova was inspired by the cherry cordial filling in the chocolates that are a holiday stocking tradition in my house. I cooked the cherries in champagne, cherry juice and just a touch of sugar, until they created a boozy syrup. This can be done with just juice for a virgin cherry variation. The pavlova also has a layer of lemon curd and lots of whipped cream. “Man, this is delicious!” was the response from my always willing (and very opinionated) taster (and husband). You can see how I baked the pavlova in this shape in my “Pavlova” video on instagram.

So many people asked about baking the pavlova as individual servings, I created a video for that too. The recipe and directions are below, but to watch me make the mini Boozy Cherry Pavlovas and how I fill them, look for “Cherry Pavlova” in my instagram videos.

If you are looking for the equipment I use in any of my recipes, you can find them all here, on my ZoeBakes Kitchen Essentials page, where you can also find my list of favorite cookbooks and sign up for any updates – I add to it with every post. (more…)

Read More

Bûche de Noël ~ Christmas Yule Log

This is a classic French dessert that is served at Christmas time. Bûche de Noël translates as the “Christmas Log” and is meant to look like the piece of wood you are about to toss into the fireplace. It is a rather odd tradition and yet I find myself making one every year. It always reminds me of the TV station that plays Christmas music and shows nothing but a burning log in a fireplace. I thought those were just memories of my long ago childhood, but I was amazed to see that the burning log still finds its place on YouTube even today.

Despite my unglamorous association there is something quite elegant and beautiful about the Bûche de Noël. According to Larousse Gastronomique the yule log cake tradition started in the 1870s when Parisian pastry chefs decided to replace the less elaborate brioche style fruit loaf with this more festive confection. Although I am quite partial to the Panettone style breads, I can see why pastry chefs created something a little more fussy to work on, that is just how we are!

I created the yule log pictured here for the holiday issue of Better Homes and Gardens. You can find the recipe here and you’ll find a video of me creating one in my instagram video. It is the very first video in my highlights, so you’ll need to scroll all the way to the end. You may find some other videos to watch along the way.

More Bûche de Noël recipes…

(more…)

Read More