Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

Amber Wilson's Blackberry Jelly Doughnuts recipe | photo by Zoë François

Amber Wilson’s cookbook, For the Love of the South is a delight. It is one of the most strikingly beautiful books I’ve seen recently. The photography and recipes are romantic, sultry, so Southern, and yet, they are entirely approachable. When I first flipped through the pages, I wanted to make everything, but these jelly doughnuts grabbed me the most. I adore a great doughnut and she delivers. Her dough is scented with lemon zest, then filled with blackberry preserves, but there are a number of other homemade fillings to choose from. I’ve since made these doughnuts several times and filled them with everything from pastry cream (vanilla and coconut), lemon curd, whipped milk chocolate mascarpone, and coated them in ganache, all from my Zoë Bakes Cakes book. So, I turned them into the cake they were meant to be! 😉

You can watch me make Amber’s jelly doughnuts on my instagram story and she’s generously allowed me to share the recipe with you here.

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Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake)

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I set out to bake a traditional Opera Torte, but I ended up getting distracted and took off in an entirely different flavor direction. In the end I created this Blackberry Opera Torte (which I have named the Diva Cake) and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. This cake has become one of my signature moves on Instagram (cake, meringue, blow torch- need I say more). It has way more layers than a traditional opera torte, which is not a bad thing at all. Instead of coffee-soaked Joconde (almond sponge cake) and coffee buttercream, this one uses blackberry preserves to flavor the buttercream and then has a layer of fresh berries separating the cake from the spiky meringue. In my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes, there are many buttercream flavors to choose from and you can create your own Diva flavors (just be sure to share with me on Instagram @zoebakes, so I can see what you’ve created). Those fresh berries turned out to be a brilliant layer of protection from the flamethrower I used to toast the meringue. Oh, that is no joke. I got ahold of one of Elon Musk’s Boring Company Flamethrowers and had a blast (see what I did there) torching the top of the cake. You can use a regular kitchen torch to get the job done too. You can watch me make the cake and wield a flamethrower in my instagram video.

Blackberry Opera Torte (Diva Cake) | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François
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Blackberry Ricotta Tarts, a wee bit of summer in the dead of winter!

Blackberry ricotta tarts | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This past weekend I NEEDED summer. The weather was vacillating between rain and sleet, my boys couldn’t even go ice skating because the rink was just a pool of slush. The Midwestern sky, that I can usually count on for an endless blue sunny backdrop to winter, was gray. It was all too much to take, especially after the Vikings gave up the big game. When I saw the flat of blackberries at the store, I had to have them. It was a gift from a land far, far away that is in their growing months. I am usually dedicated to eating seasonally and as local as possible, but once in a while we Minnesotans have to cheat. It worked. My family and I were much happier after eating these tarts. The fresh berries were lovely with the rich creamy ricotta custard that has the slightest hint of nutmeg. Be sure to use a whole milk ricotta to get the silky texture.

This morning we woke up to snow, which is at least beautiful, albeit a reminder that our summer is still far away. I suppose it just means we have a longer baking season than most! Read More