A New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be about giving something up, it can be about setting out to create new things. What if we shake things up a bit and resolve to get into the kitchen to try a new cooking or baking technique this year? No matter where you are in your baking journey, there’s always something new to learn. That’s one of the things I love most about this craft.Read More
Category: ZoëBakes Academy
Baking with Chocolate
Chocolate is romantic, dramatic, purported to have healing properties, and is absolutely delicious. The wonderful flavor is representative of devotion and love. Chocolate can come in so many forms that even those who don’t consider themselves chocolate fanatics almost always find a chocolate treat to love. Below you will find a primer on all things chocolate, so you can learn all the tips and tricks for baking with chocolate. When I set out to write Zoë Bakes Cakes the very first cake I put in its pages was my Devil’s food recipe, which is deep, dark, and full of cocoa. You’ll find cakes, pies, tarts, and many other chocolate desserts in this post.Read More
Baking at High Altitudes
I live in the Midwest, which is perhaps the flattest place in the country, so I am by no means the reigning expert on high-altitude baking, but I have baked in the mountains of Colorado, and this is what I learned.Read More
Chocolate Chip Cookies 101
When I was at the University of Vermont studying theater, studio art, English lit, philosophy, photography, Latin, art history and everything else a Liberal Arts Degree offers, I decided to throw a business class into the mix. Truth is, I was just fulfilling a math credit requirement. I learned how to balance a checkbook and some basic—very basic—accounting, which went something like this … don’t spend more than you make! Then the professor had us write a business plan. It was the mid-1980s and I grew up eating Mrs. Field’s, David’s and Famous Amos cookies, which were the “gourmet” cookies of the day. While in college I was also the “baker” at a favorite breakfast joint in Winooski, VT and spent my free time baking to relax after classes. So, I wrote my business plan based on a fictitious cookie company called Zoë’s Cookies. I can’t remember how I did in the class, but six months later I was standing on Church Street in Burlington, VT, selling my cookies from a hand-pushed cart.
This post is your chocolate chip cookie primer: the result of what I learned making those cookies and the countless batches I’ve baked in the 32 years since then. This post offers a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it is also a Chocolate Chip Cookies 101. I want to explain what the ingredients do to a cookie and how baking can change them. You can tweak your cookies to be just how you like them using my cookie guide towards the bottom of the post.Read More
There are very few things as satisfying as a perfect croissant. Flaky, tender, just the right amount of pull and give, and BUTTERY. Have you ever made one? Probably not, because they’re labor intensive and require a bit of skill to “laminate” the dough. This is an industry term for layering the butter within the dough. It’s not hard, but it requires some patience and a good amount of time to do it right. I’ve had more requests on my instagram account for a video on how to make them than anything else. So, that’s what I’ve done. I learned this technique at the CIA and I’ve changed nothing (well, I cut them differently, so as not to waste a bit of dough). If you haven’t visited my Instagram stories, you’ll find tutorials (set to the music in my head) for everything from macarons to meringue (because I love using my blow torch) and I take requests for things people are having troubles with in their own kitchens.Read More
How-to Video: Piping Icing on a Cupcake 101 (Ovaltine Cupcake with Nutella Buttercream)
I was amazed recently to find Ovaltine on the shelves at the grocery store. I hadn’t had or thought about it in about 35 years. There are certain memories of childhood that hold space in the brain in a sensory way, and Ovaltine is one of them. I can’t remember an actual occasion of drinking it, but I do remember the excitement and malty flavor from way back. When I drink it now I recall our black and white television, big cars with no seat belts, sans-a-belt slacks and the Brady Bunch. These were simple days, so it seemed to a 7 year old, and Ovaltine was one of the glimmering bonuses that life had to offer. Keep in mind that my household was without Twinkies or Soda, so when Ovaltine hit the threshold it was an occasion, a glorious one at that. It was like drinking a malted milk ball and I was in heaven.
In order to make the cupcakes look as gorgeous as they taste, you’ll want to decorate them like a pro. I’ve put together a video on how to pipe on a perfect base of icing. It can be the foundation for other decorations or leave it alone and it is a classic finish. I will share some tips on how to use the pastry bag and the key to piping anything from stars to roses.