How to Make Sorbet

How to make sorbet - Photo by Zoë François

One of the reasons I went to culinary school, after working in professional kitchens for a few years, was to have an understanding of why my recipes didn’t always work. Things would succeed if I followed the recipe to the letter, but if I played or strayed at all they would have as much chance of being a disaster as they did a winner. In culinary school I learned enough about food science to be able to play with recipes or create my own from scratch. I learned why eggs should be warm when you whip them and why you should use low protein flours for cakes and higher ones for breads. They taught me about Brix, Baume and other technical ways to measure sugar in sorbet solutions so they will freeze, but not become a solid brick of ice. After school, once I could afford it, I bought a Refractometer, which shows you the sugar content in a solution. This way I can mix up a batch of any kind of fruit sorbet, add some simple syrup and the sorbet will be a success. But, what if you are just making sorbet a couple times a year, do you really need such a geeky, expensive gadget? Not unless you are a kitchen equipment hoarder, like me.

So, then what? There is another way to have a greater chance at success than just praying for the best. You can use a method that involves floating an egg in your sorbet. Yep, I said FLOATING AN EGG, the whole thing, in the shell. It is also a very cool experiment to do with your kids. As the solution gets more saturated with sugar, the egg is buoyed to the surface. Once the egg is actually floating partially above the surface, the solution has enough sugar to prevent the sorbet from being too icy. Perhaps not as impressive as whipping out your refractometer, but pretty amazing in a Beakman’s World kind of way and it allows you to make sorbet from just about any juice. Obviously, this will not work with all fruits, banana puree tends to be too thick and the egg, no matter how sweet the solution, will float on the surface. But, for citrus and other thin juices, it is wonderful. Read More

Lemon Pudding Cake

Meyer Lemon Pudding-Cake | photo by Zoë François

It’s a little bit pudding and a little bit cake, all in one recipe. I was first awed by this lemon pudding-cake when I went to a pastry conference at the CIA and met the pastry chef from Craft, Karen Demasco. She served this dessert; made up of a layer of tangy lemon curd baked on top of a sweet delicate cake. They were clearly baked as one, but the two layers were so distinct in appearance and taste. I fell in love. When Karen wrote a book last year I was so excited to see this recipe in it! I have made it with lime juice, grapefruit and even passionfruit juices.

You can use six to eight ramekins for this batch, depending on how tall you want your cake to stand.

Watch me make these in my Instagram highlight video!

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Grapefruit Posset with Campari Gelee

Grapefruit Posset | Zoebakes 07

This is a grapefruit Posset. It has been around for a very long time, but chances are you’ve never heard of it. It is like a perfectly executed panna cotta, in texture and taste, but it is made without the gelatin. There is no fear that you will end up with creamy jello because you added too much gelatin. As a result you have to serve it in a cup because it’s so perfectly soft and it can’t hold its shape if inverted onto a plate. I’m smitten with this dessert and believe in my heart of hearts that it will become the next big thing in restaurants. Well, it should be at least.

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Grapefruit Pound Cake

Grapefruit pound cake on a white platter

This is the most awkward time of year for produce. Our expectation in winter is that we have to rely on imported or frozen fruit, if we want anything other than snow to eat. During the summer we have all kinds of local options and even take them for granted by August. Right now, at least in Minnesota, we’re watching the buds come out on the trees, the crocuses are popping up and we’re hopeful that it won’t snow again. But, it will.

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