Preview My New Magnolia Network Show

Behind the Scenes of Zoe Bakes on Magnolia Network

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!

Behind the Scenes of Zoe Bakes on Magnolia Network

Behind the Scenes of Zoe Bakes on Magnolia Network

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

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | ZoeBakes by Zoe Francois
Get My Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe
Strawberry Fool with Lemon Curd and Strawberry Coulis | ZoeBakes by Zoe Francois
Get My Strawberry Fool Recipe

Mirror Glaze Cherry Cake

Mirror Glaze Cherry Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

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

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.

Do you have pie questions or need to troubleshoot your recipe? Check out my guide on how to make pie crust.

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Almond Cake with Buttercream Roses

Almond Cake with Buttercream Roses | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François 

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). The pink got me to thinking about Easter, Mother’s Day, Bridal Showers, Wedding Cakes and the Couture Dresses at the Oscars, which are tonight. That’s a lot of inspiration for one little bundt cake, but this cake can handle the pressure. The almond cake under all the fancy is good enough to serve with nothing more than the glaze or a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar, so don’t skip this one even if you aren’t up for piping roses, which I show you how to do in my instagram video of this cake. Read More

Bûche de Noël ~ Christmas Yule Log

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.

Despite my unglamorous association there is something quite elegant and beautiful about the Bûche de Noël. According to Larousse Gastronomique the yule log cake tradition started in the 1870s when Parisian pastry chefs decided to replace the less elaborate brioche style fruit loaf with this more festive confection. Although I am quite partial to the Panettone style breads, I can see why pastry chefs created something a little more fussy to work on, that is just how we are!

I created the yule log pictured here for the holiday issue of Better Homes and Gardens. You can find the recipe here and you’ll find a video of me creating one in here.

More Bûche de Noël recipes…

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Pomegranate Swirl New York Cheesecake

Pomegranate Swirl New York Cheesecake | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

The first cheesecake I recall eating was from Juniors in Brooklyn. I’d go there with my grandparents and my aunts, Sylvia and Rose, when I was little. There was always a ton of food and loud conversation, but the only thing I remember clearly is the cheesecake. It was tall and smothered in impossibly red strawberries. The last time I ate cheesecake at Juniors was the day I bought my wedding dress at Kleinfeld’s Bridal shop, when it was still in Brooklyn and long before there was a reality TV show about it. All the women in my family piled into the fitting room and the very bossy attendant said, “I have the dress for you!” and left. She came back with a dress, I put it on and everyone started to cry. I did try on a few more, since we’d intended to make a whole day of it, but she nailed it on the first try. We left that fitting room and went to Juniors for lunch. The cheesecake was not as great as I had remembered from when I was a kid, but it was exactly what the day called for, tradition.

Pomegranate Swirl New York Cheesecake | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

This Pomegranate Swirl New York Cheesecake started with a base I found in Bake from Scratch Magazine. The texture is luxurious and smooth, but not as dense and custardy as some of my other go to cheesecake recipes. I love all kinds of cheesecakes and this may be my new favorite NY style. Dare I say, better than Juniors. I added a swirl of pomegranate to the cake, because it has a tartness that pairs so well with the rich creaminess of a cheesecake.  I had been seduced by a case of the ruby colored fruit at Costco, so I needed a way to use them up.  I reduced the juice of fresh pomegranates, which was DELICIOUS, but a true pain in the ass. You can watch me juice the pomegranates and create the swirls in the cheesecake in my instagram video. The flavor is incredible, but you can certainly do this with store bought pomegranate juice or any other tart fruit juice as well (Sour Cherry, Passion fruit, Raspberry, Cranberry). The base is a simple graham cracker, because it is my favorite and I far prefer it to Juniors sponge cake crust. Read More