Canning Fresh Blueberries at Masala Farm with Suvir Saran

canning blueberries with Suvir Saran at Masala Farm | photo by Zoë François

Canning seems to be one of those skills that you are born into. Most canners can’t remember the first time they saw their mom or granny doing it, it was just always there. I imagine them sitting in a bouncy seat on the kitchen counter watching as jars got filled with the season’s crops. Next thing they knew they were in the process of washing fruit, brewing simple syrup and dunking jars in caldrons of hot water. Then there are folks like me, who are completely enamored with the notion of “putting up” food, but find it a daunting mystery, too big to take on as an adult. Either your born with it, or you’re not, was how I thought. I imagine it is similar to how many folks feel about baking bread. Too time consuming, difficult and rife with stories of disaster. Knowing full well that this doesn’t have to be the case with bread, doesn’t it stand to reason that I could have faced canning as well? It took a visit to Suvir Saran’s American Masala Farm to show me the way. He gave me the gift of canning!

In the amount of time it took me to make a cup of coffee he’d set himself up to preserve a batch of fresh berries he’d bought at a local farmer’s stand. He was so nonchalant about it all. I grabbed my camera and in the following 45 minutes he rocked my world. I asked Suvir how he learned this art and he confirmed my suspicions…“I first saw canning when watching my mother can jams, jellies, ketchup and squash in Nagpur, India. My mom sowed the seeds when I was in 1st grade.” Those of you born into canning families may think my discovery is as obvious as breathing air, but for those of you who have avoided it, I hope you, like me, will be inspired to “put up” everything you can get your hands on*. My only issue now is getting enough jars. Read More

How to Write on a Cake

How to Write on a Cake | Photo by Zoë François

For many happy occasions you’ll want to write a special sentiment on a cake. The problem is not what to say, but how to make it both legible and gorgeous. Everyone has had a good chuckle over the cakes on Cake Wrecks, but we want to avoid having our efforts resemble those mishaps. With a few tricks of the trade and a bit of practice anyone can learn how to write on a cake like a pro. In my previous how-to videos we have built the foundation for this cake and are now ready to put on the finishing touches

Part 1: Cut and Fill a Cake Like a Pro!

Part 2: Crumb Coat Your Cake

Part 3: Smoothly Cover your Cake with Icing

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How-to Video: Cut and Fill a Cake like a Pro! (Cake Decorating Series)

As a result of your comments about what cake decorating techniques you want to learn I have created a new series on Zoë Bakes. I figure we should start at the beginning. There is no sense in learning how to pipe the perfect rose if your cake is listing and the icing is falling off or covered in cake crumbs. It is just as important to know how to slice and fill your cake, as it is to write “Happy Birthday” in fancy letters, so I am going to show you how to create a professional looking cake from start to finish. In this video I will start with a cake that domed while baking, cut it into layers, fill it and create the perfect foundation for the cake you see above. In the next few posts I will teach you to crumb coat, cover the cake with smooth buttercream and finish with professional looking writing for a special occasion.

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How to Pipe Icing Roses

How to Pipe Icing Roses | Photo by Zoë François

I baked this spring bouquet of cupcakes for my Weekend Baker post on the Cooking Channel blog. I was limited in space in that post, and wanted to go into a bit lot more detail on how to pipe the icing roses, so I am sharing the expanded version here. Creating these flowers is not at all difficult, but it helps to have some simple tricks of the trade. With a little practice and the right tools you can easily recreate these flowers. The contrasting color that tips the petals is one of those easy tricks that takes them from ordinary icing roses to extraordinary. Here is how I did it:

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