Basics: Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 2

fondant cut out in the shape of the word fondant next to a marble rolling pin on a silpat

More than half of the cakes I do for clients are covered with fondant. It is gorgeous, sleek and can be simple or ornate.  Over the years I’ve tried just about every product out there and have loved some and loathed others. Some are easy to use but have no taste feel like chewing gum in your mouth. Others are melt in your mouth and have a pleasant flavor, but are nearly impossible to work with unless the conditions are just right. Not to mention the cost. For those of you who have worked with it you know it is very spendy, as we say here in MN. So make your own and get the flavor, the texture and the price you like. It is very easy, albeit a tad messy, but most of all fun!

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Basics: Génoise and Homemade Rolled Fondant! Part 1

Génoise Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m gearing up for my one year blog-iversary next week and I’m making myself a cake. On the way to that celebratory occasion, I’ve made a few of the basic elements in the pastry kitchen: génoise and homemade rolled fondant. As Sherry Yard says in the opening of her génoise recipe from The Secrets of Baking, this simple cake is a test of pastry chefs technical prowess. It is used in competitions and in restaurant job interviews to see if you were paying attention in culinary school. Génoise is a basic cake used for weddings, birthdays, jellyrolls, petits fours and many more classic desserts. I love this delicious, light and versatile cake when it is baked well. You can add flavored syrup to it without it disintegrating into mush, it holds up to buttercream, ganache, fondant and anything else you can think of. It may seem old school, but I think génoise really is essential and can be easy if you have the right recipe and the proper technique.

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Mocha Chip Cookies

Mocha Chip Cookies Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

For those of you who have been visiting with me on Twitter, you already know that my day doesn’t begin until my first, or sometimes second, cup of coffee. It was a happy day for me when my local Costco started carrying Illy coffee. I first had this smooth, rich, deep cup of “liquid life” when I attended a pastry conference at the CIA in Napa Valley a few years ago. I was hooked, but it is awfully expensive and I rarely splurged. Now I can have it and not feel as though I’m exploiting my bank account. My Twitter friends are very vocal about their coffee preferences and say they like illy but prefer Caffe Kimbo and LavAzz. What is your favorite bean?

My 1st Anniversary of Zoe Bakes is coming up and I’ve ordered a special apron in honor of the event. I’ll be giving it away as soon as it arrives. One Year, how time flies!

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Mini Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Congratulations to Susan at, she has won a copy of Robin Asbell’s The New Whole Grain Cookbook. Thank you so much to everyone who left such incredibly kind comments about the Apple Pumpkin Cake I made from her book. I hope you will all check out Robin’s fabulous book.

Like most Americans I have been consumed by this election. Right before the VP debate some of the foodies on Twitter were discussing what they would be eating during the face off. With all the talk about our 49th state these days It dawned on me that the perfect dessert for this event would be the once loved Baked Alaska. I hadn’t made or eaten a Baked Alaska in years. When I mentioned it to my friend Jen she immediately thought of her Home Ec class, nearly 25 years ago. I am convinced this dramatic dessert will be pulled from obscurity and we will once again see it on menus everywhere. Well perhaps not, but they are incredibly fun to make and delicious. Not to mention you get to use your Blow Torch, which is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

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Apple Pumpkin Cake

Apple Pumpkin Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Every year at this time I make apple cakes, many of them. It is our traditional dessert during Rosh Hashanah** and just simply delicious for any occasion. This year I tried a new recipe — this apple pumpkin cake — from Robin Asbell’s latest book on Whole Grains. It gets its richness from pumpkin puree, a layer of sautéed apples and then the whole thing is topped with spiced streusel. This cake is so amazing, I had to bake two. The first one my family ate before I could photograph it, so I made another, and it’s gone too. Because the cake is made with whole wheat flour, apples and pumpkin I feel great about satisfying my boys’ requests to eat it for breakfast, a snack and dessert.

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