When my son was heading back to college after winter break I asked him what he’d like for his last homemade dessert before our long drive. He opened up Pastry Love by Joanne Change and pointed to her cobbler. The perfect choice. Perhaps nothing says comfort food as well and succinctly as a blueberry cobbler. Bubbling sweet fruit covered with tender, flaky biscuits is exactly the image I hope he recalls of being home for the holidays. Joanne is a phenomenal pastry chef and owns, Flour, one of my all-time favorite bakeries in Boston, so I knew her recipe would satisfy this lofty request from my son. It did not disappoint and I have a feeling this will be an often requested treat in my house. Her book is filled with so many fantastic recipes from this quintessential comfort food to more refined pastries. A pastry book for every home!
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.
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…)
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!
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…)
During this moment in history when there is a shortage of national flour brands on the grocery shelves, it is an amazing time to learn about the smaller wheat growers and to try their flour. Below is a Flour and Grain Resource Guide to Upper Midwest growers, millers, and some of the bakeries who use them. I have personally baked with Baker’s Field and Sunrise Mill flours and I’m excited to try many of the others.
For more information about the benefits of baking with flour from small scale growers, both from a personal health and for the health of our planet visit the Artisan Grain Collaborative website. In these strange times, this is a moment for us to change the way we eat and we may end up supporting our farmers at the same time.
Flour Shopping Guide… (more…)
Here are the recipes and equipment I’ve used in my @zoebakes Instagram Live Tutorials. You’ll find the links to each recipe below.
photo above: Cinnamon Rolls
The Master Bread in Five Minutes Recipe with or without adding extra flavors.
Brioche Dough, which can be made in a loaf or any number of breads, such as the ones below and the cinnamon rolls.
Raspberry Braided Brioche – you can do this with any filling and it’s super easy!
Sourdough starter – an easy step by step to making a sourdough starter.
Homemade Vanilla Infused Extract – its super easy, but takes some time for the vanilla essense to infuse, so get one started soon!