Those beautiful cakes you see in the bakery window or the box of cupcakes at an office party are likely decorated with buttercream. But, what kind? “Buttercream” is a word used for a whole category of frostings, so it is helpful to know the different kinds so you can make the one you love most. The buttercream most of us grew up with, the kind that piped into colorful decorations and were just slightly crunchy on the outside and creamy in the middle is American buttercream. The shiny, smooth covering on a wedding cake with pristine edges and delicate flowers is likely Swiss or Italian Meringue buttercream. There are others that are rich and creamy like pudding. They are all delicious but have their own personality and functions. Here is a deep dive into the types of buttercream I use most.Read More
At a super young age I discovered baking brings me joy and feeds my soul. What I’ve learned from a career in professional kitchens is that I love teaching other people how to bake even more! Now I get to do both, on TV. Joanna and Chip Gaines have given me a series on their new Magnolia Network where I can bake, teach and be inspired by some phenomenally talented bakers (and chefs, farmers, bee keepers and more …) in my Minnesota community.
Watch the first episode on discovery+ (Now Available)
This is a dream come true and now you can watch the first full episode of Zoë Bakes streaming on discovery+. I’ll be making a lattice pie with strawberries and rhubarb (quintessentially MN and lovingly planted by my dad), plus a simple fruit “fool” inspired by a trip to visit one of my favorite local pastry chefs (find the recipes below!). You’ll get a glimpse into my baking series (and my kitchen), where I break down all the secrets of pastry and share my tips and techniques. It’s all crazy delicious and easy, so I hope you’ll tune in and bake along with me!
Thank you to Joanna, Chip, Andrew Zimmern, Intuitive Content, Patrick Weiland, Patrick McMahill, Madeleine Hill and the rest of the many, many talented folks (there are dozens) who helped me make this dream come true. I also want to thank my family and friends who dove into this journey with me and made the show feel like home! It takes a village and you’re a spectacular one!
Watch the first episode on discovery+. Come bake with me! xo
Recipes in Episode 1 of Zoë Bakes
I’ve been intrigued with mirror glaze cakes ever since they started popping up on my instagram feed years ago. There is something so satisfying about the glassy, reflective finish. Aesthetically, it’s not typically my style to create something quite so glitzy and glam, but sometimes ones inner Liberace needs to come out. The technique alone was calling me, I just had to understand how it was done. I have to admit it was simpler than I imagined. I hunted around for a recipe for the mirror glaze and landed on one by my friend, Phillip Fryman of Southern Fatty. His differed from many on the internet because he uses glucose syrup, instead of corn syrup. They are typically interchangeable and you can really use either for this recipe, BUT glucose is WAY thicker and I thought that may be a nice advantage in the glaze coating the cake well. I think my assumption was right, because the glaze was thick and clung to the cake like a champ.
I often see mirror glaze cakes done in several psychedelic colors, spiraling together on the cake, like candy colored marble, but my cake was inspired by the bright red sour cherries my dad picked for me off of his tree, so I went with the simplicity of one color. The success of the mirror glaze cake is in the finish. If you can see yourself, then you’ve won the day. Not only could I see my reflection, but I captured a video of the clouds passing by out the window as reflected off my cake! It is so cool and you can see that and watch me make the cake in my instagram video.
Oh, the cake under the mirror glaze is a no-bake cherry cheesecake.Read More
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.
Do you have pie questions or need to troubleshoot your recipe? Check out my guide on how to make pie crust.
At the core this is a pound cake that has a perfectly dense crumb and is rich with almond paste, but it is also a tribute to spring, which is on its way. The decoration came to me after I made the blood orange glaze, that is the prettiest pink you can find in nature. The color is from the red fruit, without use of any food color (the season is short, so you can recreate this color with all natural food color that I link to below).Read More
This is a classic French dessert that is served at Christmas time. Bûche de Noël translates as the “Christmas Log” and is meant to look like the piece of wood you are about to toss into the fireplace. It is a rather odd tradition and yet I find myself making one every year. It always reminds me of the TV station that plays Christmas music and shows nothing but a burning log in a fireplace. I thought those were just memories of my long ago childhood, but I was amazed to see that the burning log still finds its place on YouTube even today.Read More