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

Thank You Stephen!

stephen

(Stephen Durfee, pastry chef and host extraordinaire!)

For the past 5 days Jeff and I have been in the Bay Area promoting our book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

While we were traveling in California my dear friend Stephen Durfee, who happens to be a former teacher, my mentor and a James Beard winning pastry chef at The French Laundry, who is now teaching at the CIA, was our generous host and guide. He cooked for us, housed us, helped us make dough, introduced us to wonderful people and a couple of restaurants that were utterly mind boggling in their creativity and flavors. Ubuntu in Napa and Aziza in San Francisco are not to be missed by anyone traveling in the area. Both of which have inspired SO many ideas for desserts I will be sharing with you soon.

Let me not leave out Emily Luchetti who so generously lent us her pastry kitchen at Farallon to do our baking. She too has been an inspiration to me as a pastry chef from back when she was at Stars. It was an honor just to work in her space.

Not even 12 hours after coming home and unpacking, I am packed up and leaving again tomorrow morning. This time to Florida. Yes, Florida in July. Partly to promote the book on TV in Tampa, but most importantly to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday!!!

Thank you all for your wonderful notes and questions while I have been away. I will continue to check in and write when I can.

Thanks! Zoë

White Peach and Raspberry Pie

Fresh Peaches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

After a winter of nothing but citrus, I’m about ready to go crazy, which my husband claims I did during this past week’s trip to the market. I came home with a case of white peaches, a pile of plums and so many blueberries and raspberries that my kitchen looks like a fruit stand at the farmers market. I can’t resist, it is summer and I love fresh fruit! First I made a bunch of brioche muffins studded with the peaches, plums and berries. But the real reason I bought all the fruit was to make pies. I love all of them and pies with ripe fresh fruit are my all-time favorite summer dessert. This white peach and raspberry pie is no exception.

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Perfect Pie Dough 101 — Lattice Pie Crust

Pie dough laying in a pie plate

With very few ingredients you can make one of America’s most beloved desserts, the pie. We start with the crust, the frame which holds the filling, in this case, white peach and raspberry. It should be tender and flaky, buttery and a lovely compliment to whatever you have put inside. I am forever hunting for what I consider the perfect pie crust. There are as many recipes as there are households. Every family seems to have their own prized recipe. If you are having a tough time recreating your grandmother’s crust, it may not be the fault of the recipe, but the technique you are using. Try following my instructions on how to make this dough, with a lattice pie crust. I got the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s latest tome Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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How To Make Rolled Fondant

Cake Decorated With Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

My neighbors Cynthia and Trent asked me to make a cake for their mom’s birthday party. Of course I wanted to do it, but as they described the style of cake she wanted I got downright giddy about it. “Something bright, colorful and wildly whimsical” were the words they used to describe her taste. Immediately I thought fondant! It isn’t my favorite thing in the world to eat, but it allows so much creativity with color, shapes and dimensions that you can’t always get with buttercream or other icings. Not to mention they were driving this cake about an hour away and in the heat of summer fondant is a great traveler.

There are a few things to know about fondant, but it really isn’t difficult to work with. I’m going to show you step by step how I put this cake together. You may want to start with something slightly less over-the-top, but maybe not!

What you will need:

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