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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My new Bread Baking Class on Craftsy!

Craftsy | Breadin5 titleCard

I am super excited to announce my new Craftsy bread baking video class. We’ve made a video of the most popular breads from our books with lots of tips and techniques for getting a professional loaf every time you bake with very little time or effort! It is the perfect companion to all of our books. In the video I’ll use a single dough to create the various breads, but the techniques are useful for all the doughs from any of our books.

Craftsy Bread Class | Breadin5 01

To see some pictures from my video shoot in Denver and to get 50% off the Craftsy video, visit my bread site Breadin5.com!

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Spice Cake from Silvana’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kitchen

Gluten-Free Spice Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This gorgeous gluten-free spice cake is from Silvana Nardone’s most recent cookbook, Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen. She has created incredible recipes for those who are sensitive to wheat and dairy, using her own gluten-free AP flour mix and a simple recipe for homemade almond milk.  Of course, I headed straight to the dessert section and was seduced by this spice cake. It is super easy to put together and you’ll never know it’s GF and DF. Silvana suggests using a blow torch to toast the frosting. There is no tool I love more, so I whipped it out and threw some light flame on the top. It adds a caramel flavor to the already wonderful cake, so I highly recommend it. (more…)

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