“Simple” Summer Strawberry Torte for Nana!

Summer Strawberry Torte Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This strawberry torte is simple; and by this I mean, not fancy, nearly rustic in appearance and suitable for a picnic table. I left the sides uncovered so that everyone could see all the layers that make up the cake, like a trifle without the bowl. I just had to let the dacquoise poke out because I thought it was a terrible shame to trim it into obscurity. Perhaps the piping on top is a bit fanciful, but I made it for Nana’s (my step mother, my boys call her Nana so now we all do!)  birthday party and I wanted it to be fun and whimsical. Read More

Orange Scented Sponge Cake

Orange Scented Sponge Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I made this fresh orange scented sponge cake from my The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. It is a classic and really nothing about it needs changing. It is light and the orange gives the cake a fresh flavor that isn’t overly sweet. I combined it with a dacquoise, strawberry whipped cream and homemade jam to make a birthday torte for my stepmother. Even though there is no butter or oil in the cake I find it moist enough that I didn’t use a simple syrup soak. But you certainly could add it for flavor. Read More

Strawberry Whipped Cream, almost a Fool

Fresh Strawberries | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

These strawberries were so gorgeous that I just had to have them. They were the inspiration for a summer torte I made for my stepmother’s birthday. First I made a strawberry fool of sorts, but unlike a traditional fool I used pectin to stabilize it. I needed the strawberry whipped cream to hold up when used as the layers of the cake, but I didn’t want to use gelatin. I’ve been playing with pectin ever since my brother and his girlfriend became vegans. Plus, it is just fun to play with new ingredients in ways I hadn’t before. Read More

Orange Blossom Honey Cake with Fresh Blueberries

 Honey Cake with Blueberries | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The strangest thing happened on my way to ordering new chefs jackets; I discovered the most amazing honey I’ve ever eaten. You see, Jeff and I have been doing a lot of TV appearances recently to promote our book. I decided that my old worn out chocolate covered chefs jackets just weren’t going to cut it on HDTV and so I decided to splurge on some new ones. I consulted a few friends and found they were unanimous on where to go shopping; Crooked Brook.

As I placed my order, the owner of the company asked me if I’d like to try some of their honey. This isn’t just any honey, it is artisan honey. Made by bees that are so carefully watched that the producers know what flowers are in every jar. They even pack up these bees to vacation in Florida so they can create honey from orange blossoms. It is pure, organic and raw, so all of the nutrients of the honey is preserved. This is the stuff I get very excited about. This honey cake recipe was inspired by these bees and their fabulous honey. Read More

Lime-Lavender Granita with Fresh Figs

Lime-Lavender Granita with Fresh Figs | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m finally home from all of my traveling. I’ve never been so happy to be in my kitchen, despite the 94° forecast and no air conditioner. Something frozen, tart and a little floral is exactly what I need to get through this day. I just went to the market and bought a flat of fresh, dripping-with-juices-ripe figs. The sweetness of their nectar will balance perfectly with the lime-lavender granita. Read More

Lavender Simple Syrup

Lavender | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This gorgeous lavender* (salvia) plant is from Stephen Durfee’s garden in Napa, CA. It inspired my to make a lavender simple syrup on a hot day and drizzle it on a honey cake with blueberries.

The following recipe can be made with rosemary, lemon thyme, star anise, cinnamon sticks, organic edible rose petals or any other aromatic that you want to flavor your syrup with. I love to have these flavored syrups around to sweeten tea, use as a drizzle over sponge cake, flavor cocktails, granitas, sorbets and lemonade. Read More