Pear Cake with Cardamom Glaze from Zoë Bakes Show

Host Zoe Francois with her pear cardamom cake, as seen on Zoe Bakes, season 1.

When I heard about the Scandinavian concept of Fika, I knew this pear cake would be on the menu and I was going to really dive into the theme by adding lots of cardamom and almond paste, which are flavors I associate most with baking from Scandinavia.

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Pear Panna Cotta Cake

Pear Panna Cotta Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up my paternal grandmother made a dessert she called “Swedish Cream” on Christmas day. It was rich beyond imagining (at least when I was a child) and its arrival meant the festivities were coming to a close, because we’d all slip into a Christmas Swedish Cream dream state and the adults dozing off usually followed. Much, much later in life, while at culinary school, I realized it was a sour cream panna cotta that she’d been making all those years. My Pear Panna Cotta Cake is inspired by my Granny’s dessert, but I went a little pastry chef with it. I combined Swedish Cream with a poached pear puree and then topped it with a layer of the poaching liquid delicately set into a Jelly with gelatin and put it on a base of almond joconde sponge cake. The dessert is multiple layers and it takes a wee bit of time, but it is actually super easy to make. You can also stop with one or two layers if that’s all time allows. To decorate the sides I sliced pears on a mandoline and dried them in the oven, which couldn’t be easier and they look so stunning. In her memory I will carry on my Granny’s tradition of ending the holiday meal with a smooth, rich, delicate Pear Panna Cotta Cake. 

You can watch me make the Pear Panna Cotta Cake in my instagram video

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Anthropologie Catalog Dessert Recipes: (Poached Pear Tart, Creme Brûlée, Apple Crisp)

Fall Fruit Tart | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

It is with delight that I share with you the desserts I created for the current Anthropologie Catalog, which you can find in the stores and on their website. They invited me to Philadelphia to bake and style the desserts and I had an absolute blast. It is a funny world I occupy, most of it spent alone in my kitchen, virtually interacting with all the wonderfully talented folks I’ve met online. So, when presented with the opportunity to work with the creative force that puts out the Anthropologie catalog, it took me less than an instant to reply with an enthusiastic, YES! And, as if that weren’t enough of an honor, they put my tart on the cover (below). Mind Blown. You can read the lovely piece they wrote about me and you’ll find the recipes for The Poached Pear Tart, Creme Brûlée and Apple Cranberry Crisp below. 

The videos for all of the desserts can be found on my @ZoeBakes Instagram account.

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Cardamom Pear Cake

Pear-Cardamom Cake | ZoeBakes by Zoë François

Cardamom is the quintessential flavor of the holidays in Scandinavian countries. I hadn’t used it much before moving to Minnesota, where Swedish and Norwegian baking is part of the fabric of this community’s tradition. It is also the perfect spice for pears. When I put the pears into the batter of this pear-cardamom cake they want to slump into the cake and bake under the surface. I discovered that by checking the pears after 20 minutes of baking to make sure they’re upright in the pan, they stand straight when they come out of the oven. I must say I’m pretty pleased with the results. Updated recipe from my book, Zoe Bakes Cakes, below.

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Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This weekend represents the transition between summer vacation and the start of the school year. It’s not the official change of seasons, but it might as well be. It is also when we switch from summer fruits to the fall harvest. Apples and pears are making their way onto the pages of instagram, but the summer fruits are still around too. This Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake is the gate between the seasons. It’s the best of summer and the celebration of what is to come this fall. You can certainly make this without the raspberries, but they really brighten up the flavor and add a pop of color, which will be so longed for in a couple of months.

I started by caramelizing the pears, as I would for a tart tatin. Slow and steady is the trick to getting the right flavor and texture. If you cook the pears too fast they turn to mush without absorbing the caramel. I added a few raspberries for color and acidity. The brown sugar cake base is one I use from Dorie Greenspan, but I folded raspberries into batter. The combination of the caramel pears, the bright raspberries and the rich cake is pretty close to perfection. You can watch me make this start to finish in my instagram video.

I need to give Stephani Bloomquist a shoutout and tell you all about the page she set up, so that all of the equipment I use in my posts is gathered in one spot. You asked for it and she made it happen. It takes a village to bake, blog, video and do all that goes with it. I am super grateful to have her on my team! And, here is the page she set up. ZoeBakes Favorite Equipment Page! We’ll be adding and organizing, but here’s the start:

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Pear Almond Tart

poached pear almond tart | photo by Zoë François

I think tarts are an under appreciated art form. The sweet, tender crust is the perfect frame for just about any filling. This one has poached pears laying in a bed of almond cream and surrounded by toasted almonds. The flavor combination is classically French and looks sophisticated enough to be served at any special occasion. But, it’s really quite simple to create and there’s no reason not to have it on a Tuesday or for breakfast or as an after school snack. 

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