Irish Scones with Kumquat Marmalade

Irish Scones Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I fell mad in love with Ireland and have had the good fortune to visit a couple of times. My first stop after the long flight was to a farm, where I had my first Irish scone with marmalade. The love affair with the country and its scones was set in that moment. Like biscuits or pie dough here in America, there seems to be a scone recipe for every household in Ireland. The one constant is the quality of the butter and dairy used to make them. This is such a simple recipe and the butter makes all the difference, so go with a good one. I used Kerrygold, because I met the farmers and cows while in Ireland and know its incredible. You can use any “European” style butter, because it has a higher fat content than most American brands. The other thing I associate with Irish scones is the shape, round. I like a tall scone, so I press the dough into a thick mass before cutting out the shape. The bigger the scone, the more surface there is to spread it with marmalade. Every table in Ireland served scones with a jar of marmalade, which pretty much satisfies all my needs. I LOVE marmalade! It is the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. It is bright in color and flavor and goes with scones or ice cream or just a spoon. I made this kumquat “marmalade” by just cooking down fresh kumquats with sugar, that’s it. No pectin to deal with just gentle cooking. Because I am not thickening the juices, this is a bit runnier than a traditional marmalade. Works brilliantly for me.

Watch me make the marmalade on my Instagram stories!

Irish Scones with Kumquat Marmalade Recipe | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François Read More

Rhubarb Berry Crumble

Rhubarb Berry Crumble | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

I wait all winter long for the rhubarb to pop up, signaling spring has arrived. Then, way too fast, the precious plants are bolting and done for the season. In a panic I pick all the rhubarb from my dad’s garden to bake it and freeze the stalks for a treat later in the year.

My dad delivered rhubarb this weekend, on the same day I received Sarah Copeland’s dreamy new book, Every Day is Saturday. Her recipes are simple enough for Tuesday dinner, but festive enough to serve at a weekend party.

I went immediately for the Rhubarb Berry Crumble, because it is one of my most treasured desserts. In fact, if I had to pick ONE favorite dessert, I would say anything rhubarb and baked into a crumble is always a winner.

Sarah’s version is just the right amount of sweet, to take the edge off the puckery pink vegetable, but still tart enough to be true to rhubarb’s best quality. Her crumble is buttery and rich, which is a perfectly balanced partnership with the filling. My only issue with the recipe is that it wasn’t large enough to have leftovers for breakfast. Luckily, she gives instructions for making a bigger batch, so you can have it for dessert or breakfast or both! 

I made a batch of vanilla ice cream and swirled some raspberry jam into it for the top. Whipped cream or just a drizzle of cream would work beautifully as well.

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Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

Amber Wilson's Blackberry Jelly Doughnuts recipe | photo by Zoë François

Amber Wilson’s cookbook, For the Love of the South is a delight. It is one of the most strikingly beautiful books I’ve seen recently. The photography and recipes are romantic, sultry, so Southern, and yet, they are entirely approachable. When I first flipped through the pages, I wanted to make everything, but these jelly doughnuts grabbed me the most. I adore a great doughnut and she delivers. Her dough is scented with lemon zest, then filled with blackberry preserves, but there are a number of other homemade fillings to choose from. I’ve since made these doughnuts several times and filled them with everything from pastry cream (vanilla and coconut), lemon curd, whipped milk chocolate mascarpone, and coated them in ganache, all from my Zoë Bakes Cakes book. So, I turned them into the cake they were meant to be! 😉

You can watch me make Amber’s jelly doughnuts on my instagram story and she’s generously allowed me to share the recipe with you here.

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Raspberry Paris Brest

Raspberry Paris Brest | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This Raspberry Paris Brest is a beautifully nontraditional take on a very traditional French pastry. The name, Paris Brest, comes from a bicycle race that happens in France between (you guessed it) Paris and the town of Brest. According to Larousse Gastronomique, a pastry-cook, whose shop was along the route of the race, got it in his head to make a pastry shaped like the wheel of a bike from choux paste (the same pastry used for eclairs and profiteroles). He filled it with a butter-rich, praline flavored pastry cream. My take on this classic involves lots of Driscoll’s Raspberries to lighten up the dessert and make it even more beautiful. Instead of stirring praline into the pastry cream, I made an easy raspberry quick jam out of fresh berries and then mixed it in. The result is fresh and light, which will be a welcome end to your holiday dinner. What makes Driscoll’s Organic Raspberries the perfect choice for this is that Driscoll’s has spent years carefully breeding Raspberries, and with thousands of berry varieties they select the top 1% to sell under the Driscoll’s name.

You can watch me make this raspberry pastry in my instagram video. Read More

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake)

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I set out to bake a traditional Opera Torte, but I ended up getting distracted and took off in an entirely different flavor direction. In the end I created this Blackberry Opera Torte (which I have named the Diva Cake) and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. This cake has become one of my signature moves on Instagram (cake, meringue, blow torch- need I say more). It has way more layers than a traditional opera torte, which is not a bad thing at all. Instead of coffee-soaked Joconde (almond sponge cake) and coffee buttercream, this one uses blackberry preserves to flavor the buttercream and then has a layer of fresh berries separating the cake from the spiky meringue. In my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes, there are many buttercream flavors to choose from and you can create your own Diva flavors (just be sure to share with me on Instagram @zoebakes, so I can see what you’ve created). Those fresh berries turned out to be a brilliant layer of protection from the flamethrower I used to toast the meringue. Oh, that is no joke. I got ahold of one of Elon Musk’s Boring Company Flamethrowers and had a blast (see what I did there) torching the top of the cake. You can use a regular kitchen torch to get the job done too. You can watch me make the cake and wield a flamethrower in my instagram video.

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François
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Strawberry Charlotte Royale

Strawberry Charlotte Royale | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The truth is the last time I made a Strawberry Charlotte Royale was in culinary school and that was a very long time ago. I have been meaning to make one, but just never got around to it. Then I bought a copy of Soulful Baker, by one of my favorite bakers, Julie Jones, and she had the most beautiful Charlotte Royale in the book. I took it as a sign that I needed to make this regal (it’s in the name) dessert. Julie was my muse, but being incapable of leaving things well enough alone, I wanted to make the filling in two separate flavors. I made a Grand Marnier Bavarian Cream and then added Strawberry coulis to it for the second layer. It’s not quite as simple as a banana bread, so I’ve made a video on instagram to walk you through the process. The steps are not at all difficult, but they do require a bit of planning and some timing. Read More