Peach Dutch Baby

Peach Dutch Baby | ZoëBakes photo by Zoë François

A Dutch Baby, or as I called it way back in the day (1970s), a “Puffy Pancake,” was my first real baking adventure. It was also one of my very first posts on ZoëBakes in 2007. Going back to that original post will give you a glimpse of what blogging looked like when I first started out. The photography was really rough (terrible even), but it was a brand new landscape and the idea of sharing recipes on the internet was almost magical. I’ve kept that post exactly as it was 12 years ago, as a reminder of the times and of how far we’ve come. 

Several things have improved since 2007. My photos are a bit better and mostly in focus. Instagram has allowed me to share recipe tutorials, which is such a joy. And, I found a recipe that takes the classic Dutch Baby “puffy pancake” and makes it a summertime sensation! My friend Eliesa Johnson is a stunningly talented photographer here in Minneapolis and she traveled to Nashville to work on a cookbook all about peaches. The “Queen of Fruit” is the star of the book, but Jessica and Stephen Rose, who run The Peach Truck in Nashville, express their love (and encyclopedic knowledge) of Georgia peaches (when you read the book, you’ll follow the journey of the peaches from one state to another) and share 100 fantastic recipes. The Peach Dutch Baby caught my eye, because of my own history with the recipe, but also because Eliesa’s photos make you want to eat it straight off the page. Their recipe is almost identical to the one I have been baking for almost 50 years, but they elevate it with their peachy spin on things. 

You can watch me make the Peach Dutch Baby in my instagram video and Jessica and Stephen have graciously allowed me to share the recipe here. Be sure to pick up the book to try the rest of the peachy recipes; sweet and savory.

Peach Dutch Baby | ZoëBakes photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Peach Melba (Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream and Croquant)

There is nothing more satisfying than a perfectly ripe peach. When that happens, it is my job, as a pastry chef, not to screw it up. Nature is perfect, and often deserves to be left in its most pure form. Having said that, I am a pastry chef and what fun would it be to serve a peach, unadorned, on a plate? So, I peeled the peach (which may be the sexiest dessert of all), removed the pit, stuffed it full of perfectly whipped cream with croquant (caramelized almonds) and set it on a bed of peach ice cream, to create my version of Peach Melba (Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream and Croquant). Traditionally a Peach Melba is nothing more than peach, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. I stuck to peaches throughout, so the ice cream and whipped cream have peach puree added to them. The original dessert was created in honor of an Australian opera singer by the first celebrity chef, Escoffier, back in the 1890s. Nellie Melba was performing in London and the chef created a dessert to celebrate her triumphant voice. This is very reminiscent of the story about the famous Pavlova, created for a ballerina. I am all in favor of worshiping creative genius with sweets. 

Despite the elegance of the this Peach Melba, it is really quite easy to make. You can watch me make this Peach Melba in my instagram video and the recipe is below. (more…)

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Silver Ombre Cake (banana & chocolate layer cake)

Silver Ombre Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This Silver Ombre Cake was inspired by the arrival of Tessa Huff’s new book, Icing on the Cake. I’ve always been intrigued by cakes with the gradient shades of frosting, otherwise known as ombre. In her new book, Tessa shows us how it’s done, along with ALL her tricks of the trade she used in her California bakery. I made my ombre cake for Mother’s Day and was inspired by the silver hair I have developed from raising two fantastic boys! Hahaha. I’ve earned every strand and celebrate my grey hair with tremendous pride and honor at having lived a life that was full of challenge and joy. So, the cake is a reflection of my love of being a mom and celebrating being a woman of a certain age. And, it’s just so pretty! 

I had the great fortune of meeting Tessa while I was in LA last week. She is so lovely and it was a joy to meet the woman who creates the beautiful cakes. You can see a picture of us below. We were also joined by Adam and Ryan, who also have a new book, Husbands That Cook, which I’ll dive into next! 

Silver Ombre Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The decorating is the real star on this cake and in Tessa’s book, but she provides her tried and true recipes for cakes, pies, cookies and anything else you can decorate. I used layers of my banana and devil’s food cakes, separated by a layer of a chocolate icing as the foundation. You can watch me create the ombre finish for the cake in my instagram video and recipes below.  (more…)

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ZoeBakes Cakes in Better Homes & Gardens

ZoeBakes Cakes for Better Homes & Gardens | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This past summer I created cake recipes for the Holiday issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Once I baked, tested and ate dozens of cakes, I went to Iowa, home of the magazine, and created the final cakes for the issue. It was about 99°F and the midwest sun was beaming straight down on us, but we were in the Christmas spirit or at least creating the illusion of the holidays with cake. I had such a blast baking in the Better Homes test kitchens, working with the photographers, writers, food stylists, art directors and everyone else at Meredith publishing who make these magazines come to life. It was pure JOY to create these cakes and I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did.

ZoeBakes Cakes for Better Homes & Gardens | ZoeBakes

Below you can see the cakes I sent them when I was developing the recipes and then the final images we created together for the magazine. You’ll also find all the recipes. Visit my instagram account to see some behind the scenes photos and videos of our photo shoot this summer. What a blast!  (more…)

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Homemade Yogurt (Plain and Fruit)

How to make homemade yogurt, plain or with fruit | photo by Zoë François

I find myself digging into the past recently and finding recipes. My grandmother’s rugelach, cheese blintzes from the Kiev restaurant (a childhood favorite) and fresh homemade yogurt my mom used to make. We lived on a commune in VT, where we grew our own vegetables and raised a cow for dairy. Everything was local and organic, because if we didn’t produce it, we couldn’t afford it. My mom was the one to milk the cow, which she then made into homemade yogurt, butter and cheese. The flavor of that homemade yogurt, made from fresh milk, was divine. 48 years later, in Minneapolis we are allowed to keep chickens, but the city hasn’t approved urban dairy cows, so I just buy milk for making yogurt. Not as romantic, but still tasty.

How to make homemade yogurt, plain or with fruit | photo by Zoë François

Now that I have started making my own, I may never buy yogurt again. Homemade yogurt is so easy and has such an incredible flavor. Even my boys like it better. I happen to love it plain and tangy, but I’ll also put a layer of preserves on the bottom when I am in the mood for something a bit sweeter.

All you need is milk (you choose the fat content), a bit of heavy cream (if you’re feeling decadent) and some plain yogurt to get started.  (more…)

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Apple Honey Cake with Vanilla Rooibos Glaze

Apple Honey Cake | ZoeBakes (6 of 18)

Today is the first day of fall and the official start to baking season, my favorite time of the year. Along with the cooler weather comes apples, pumpkin and all the warm spices that fit them so well. This apple honey cake is made with honey, vanilla, cinnamon and is topped with a Rooibos tea glaze. All of these flavors were inspired by Vanilla Moon Cider, one of the new fall drinks at Dunn Brothers Coffee here in Mpls.

I have a long history with this coffee shop. So, when Dunn Brothers invited me to collaborate on a post, it was a natural fit. When I lived in Linden Hills it was the first coffee shop in the village and became a daily stop with my little boys. Dunn Brothers brilliantly set up a play area, so we tired moms could sip a cup of Sumatra, while our little ones entertained themselves within view. I even met some of my best friends in that play area. Later, when the boys were older and in school, I wrote my first book sitting at Dunn Brothers and drinking lots (and lots) more coffee. One of the baristas became a babysitter and another a trusted reader, when I needed a first pair of eyes on the book. They say it takes a village to raise children and the folks at Dunn were my eyes and ears as my kids got older. I’d walk in to the shop and was typically greeted with something like, “Your boys were just here, they’re headed over to Great Harvest (for a free slice of bread) and then to the lake.” Good to know! The people that worked there were my village. I moved from Linden Hills and was thrilled to find that Dunn Brothers had opened in a space near my new house. Not only did they serve coffee, but this location has wine and beer. Now my husband and I stop in the evenings, with our two dogs and sit at Dunn Brothers to watch our new neighborhood go by.

Dunn Brothers Coffee and all the wonderful people who work there are celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year. I made this apple honey cake to help them celebrate and to highlight one of my personal favorite, non-coffee drinks, the Vanilla Moon Cider. *They are also offering a giveaway of Dunn Brother Coffee goodies and a $50 gift card. See the bottom of the post for details on how to win and the recipe for the apple honey cake.

Apple Honey Cake | ZoeBakes (14 of 18) (more…)

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