Apple Almond Galette

Apple Almond Galette | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Fall was always my favorite time of year when I was growing up in Vermont. The leaves turned into jewels hanging on the trees and that meant apple season was in full throttle. The warm apple sauce, cider doughnuts, apple butter, and apple pies were all plentiful and made the chilling nights tolerable. To this day apple pie is my ultimate comfort food, I think it’s essential for the soul. This Apple Almond Galette is just an apple pie without the plate or a top crust. So, it’s even easier than pie to make and I think just as beautiful in a fruit forward, rustic way. It seemed the exact right dessert to make when JK Adams sent me a dreamy baker’s package with a rolling pin, pastry board and walnut Lazy Susan. All made by craftspeople in Dorset, Vermont. I’ve admittedly had a certain nostalgia for all things Vermont ever since I moved to the Midwest. There is something fundamentally stalwart about that state and the handmade products (and food) that are made there. JK Adam’s obsession with quality and sustainability speak to me in a profound way and why they have a lifetime guarantee on everything they make. Most importantly their products just feel good in my hands, which is key to baking wonderful desserts. 

You can watch me make this Apple Almond Galette in my Instagram Video and here is the recipe: 

Apple Almond Galette | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François (more…)

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French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

When I moved to Minneapolis from Vermont, I hadn’t expected to experience culture shock. I was raised mostly in New England with stints in Northern California. Somehow, those places, as far from each other as they can get on a map, are more alike than the vast land in the middle. I understood the food of the coasts, including the pie, dominated by apple and pumpkin or even lemon meringue. But, the Midwest has a pie culture all its own. I first learned of French Silk Pie in the 1990s from a local Minneapolis newspaper’s people choice award. Every year Bakers’ Square would win “best dessert” in Minneapolis with their French Silk Pie. I was painfully aware of this because I was baking my heart out at a local restaurant and despite all my efforts, I could never touch this pie’s popularity. I did finally taste one, and IMHO, it was sweet and lacking in any real chocolate flavor, but the texture was certainly worthy of the name. Out of spite (I was young and sillier then), I never served a French Silk Pie in any restaurant I worked at and honestly, this is the VERY first one I have ever baked. It comes from the beautiful new baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, by Shauna Sever. Not only did Shauna change my heart about this pie, but has taught me so much about the culture of baking in my own backyard. This pie is everything people loved about the one from Bakers’ Square, but is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go, I offer both ways below. This recipe uses raw eggs, which doesn’t bother Shauna or me in the least, but if you are at all worried about eating raw egg, then buy pasteurized ones. 

You can watch me make Shauna’s pie in my instagram video and she graciously shared the recipe, which is below.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Banana Cream Pie is a classic and one I don’t visit nearly enough. I had a craving for it and decided to bring it, along with a couple of galettes to a summer party. I figured I would be left alone in the corner with my pie and the rest of the guests would enjoy the colorful and fruity galettes. The Banana Cream Pie emerged from the kitchen and I think one of the guests actually started clapping and exclaimed something to the effect of “this party was great, but it just went to the next level!” and he threw his hands in the air. It turns out I’d recreated his favorite and he wasn’t alone. It’s funny how these rather retro American desserts, like the Banana Cream Pie and Baked Alaska bring back memories of grandmothers and childhoods. I am happy to report that this version did not disappoint and I sent the last piece home with the man who cheered for Banana Cream Pie, which is why I have no pictures of the slice. 😉 You’ll just have to make one to see how beautifully it cuts and how fantastic it tastes. 

You can watch me make the pie in my instagram video and recipe below. (more…)

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Awesome Apple Almond Crisp

Awesome Apple Almond Crisp | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

This Awesome Apple Almond Crisp is the easy, last minute, under appreciated cousin to the Apple Pie. It is every bit as delicious and I think beautiful in a rustic way, albeit not as refined looking. It can be in the oven in less than 30 minutes and emerges bubbling, crisp (hence the name) and the perfect landing place for a scoop of ice cream. My topping typically has rolled oats, but this time I wanted the toasted almonds to be the clear star, so I used oat flour instead of the old fashioned oats and all-purpose flour, making this crisp entirely gluten-free (and vegan). I used a mix of apples, as I always do, to give the fruit layer more depth of texture and flavor. I also sliced them thin, because I was using a shallow pan and I wanted the apples to create a dense layer that stood up to the topping. For me the ratio should be just barely more fruit than crisp topping, so you’ll see I go thick.

You can watch me make this Awesome Apple Almond crisp apple crisp

Awesome Apple Almond Crisp | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François (more…)

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Buttermilk Pumpkin Streusel Pie

buttermilk pumpkin streusel pie | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I discovered Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski and this Buttermilk Pumpkin Streusel Pie, on instagram, where I find so much great inspiration. One of the first things I discovered about Lisa and her bakers is that they dance in the kitchen. These are my people! This pie cemented my admiration. It is all the things I love in a pumpkin pie and more. The pumpkin filling is not too sweet, because of the tang of buttermilk and it is combined with a crunchy streusel made with pepitas and buckwheat. It is a combination of traditional and uniquely Sister Pie. If you have the good fortune of being in Detroit, you should visit their shop, but until then, get the book, it’s a gem.

You can watch me make this pie in my instagram video and Lisa generously shared the recipe us below.* (more…)

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Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I typically like to mix up the flavors and styles of the desserts I make on my website, so it is super unusual for me to make two peanut butter and chocolate treats in a row. But, I just loved the Peanut Butter Cup Meringues I recently made and it set off a craving for this pie. Maybe it is the comfort food aspect as we enter into fall and the chilly weather has me hunkering for something rich, smooth and satisfying. You can watch me make this luscious pie in my instagram video and the recipe follows.

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