Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Purple Sweet Potato Pie with a mound of an Italian meringue inspired by Esther Williams (anyone younger than me will have to google her). I was gifted a box of super fun produce by my friend Chadwick Boyd and in the selection from Frieda’s were a pair of bright purple sweet potato. I knew immediately that they would be pie. With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, how could my mind go anywhere else with such a fun bounty. The real surprise came with the topping. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows has been a regular on many Thanksgiving tables, so it seemed natural to pile on meringue and toast it like a marshmallow (a pile of whipped cream would be super tasty too). What I hadn’t planned on was the color. I had reserved the bright purple cooking water after boiling the potatoes, because it was just too pretty to throw away. I typically use a Swiss meringue on a pie, but the Italian version requires making a syrup of sugar and water, which meant I could use my potato water (BOOM, that’s how I’d tint my meringue purple). I had visions of a lavender colored cloud sitting on top of the pie, but when I added the boiling purple syrup to the spinning egg whites it turned bright, bright, bright blue. I’m not entirely sure why, but some chemical reaction in that bowl changed my vision for this pie. I was faced with a bowl of super soft, BLUE meringue and I went for it. I piled it on and then used a star tip to create the swimming cap of a topping (did you look up Esther Williams yet?)

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

You can see the potatoes and meringue come together in my instagram video. Recipe below:

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French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

When I moved to Minneapolis from Vermont, I hadn’t expected to experience culture shock. I was raised mostly in New England with stints in Northern California. Somehow, those places, as far from each other as they can get on a map, are more alike than the vast land in the middle. I understood the food of the coasts, including the pie, dominated by apple and pumpkin or even lemon meringue. But, the Midwest has a pie culture all its own. I first learned of French Silk Pie in the 1990s from a local Minneapolis newspaper’s people choice award. Every year Bakers’ Square would win “best dessert” in Minneapolis with their French Silk Pie. I was painfully aware of this because I was baking my heart out at a local restaurant and despite all my efforts, I could never touch this pie’s popularity. I did finally taste one, and IMHO, it was sweet and lacking in any real chocolate flavor, but the texture was certainly worthy of the name. Out of spite (I was young and sillier then), I never served a French Silk Pie in any restaurant I worked at and honestly, this is the VERY first one I have ever baked. It comes from the beautiful new baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, by Shauna Sever. Not only did Shauna change my heart about this pie, but has taught me so much about the culture of baking in my own backyard. This pie is everything people loved about the one from Bakers’ Square, but is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go, I offer both ways below. This recipe uses raw eggs, which doesn’t bother Shauna or me in the least, but if you are at all worried about eating raw egg, then buy pasteurized ones. 

You can watch me make Shauna’s pie in my instagram video and she graciously shared the recipe, which is below.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Banana Cream Pie is a classic and one I don’t visit nearly enough. I had a craving for it and decided to bring it, along with a couple of galettes to a summer party. I figured I would be left alone in the corner with my pie and the rest of the guests would enjoy the colorful and fruity galettes. The Banana Cream Pie emerged from the kitchen and I think one of the guests actually started clapping and exclaimed something to the effect of “this party was great, but it just went to the next level!” and he threw his hands in the air. It turns out I’d recreated his favorite and he wasn’t alone. It’s funny how these rather retro American desserts, like the Banana Cream Pie and Baked Alaska bring back memories of grandmothers and childhoods. I am happy to report that this version did not disappoint and I sent the last piece home with the man who cheered for Banana Cream Pie, which is why I have no pictures of the slice. 😉 You’ll just have to make one to see how beautifully it cuts and how fantastic it tastes. 

You can watch me make the pie in my instagram video and recipe below. (more…)

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Buttermilk Pumpkin Streusel Pie

buttermilk pumpkin streusel pie | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I discovered Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski and this Buttermilk Pumpkin Streusel Pie, on instagram, where I find so much great inspiration. One of the first things I discovered about Lisa and her bakers is that they dance in the kitchen. These are my people! This pie cemented my admiration. It is all the things I love in a pumpkin pie and more. The pumpkin filling is not too sweet, because of the tang of buttermilk and it is combined with a crunchy streusel made with pepitas and buckwheat. It is a combination of traditional and uniquely Sister Pie. If you have the good fortune of being in Detroit, you should visit their shop, but until then, get the book, it’s a gem.

You can watch me make this pie in my instagram video and Lisa generously shared the recipe us below.* (more…)

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Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

I typically like to mix up the flavors and styles of the desserts I make on my website, so it is super unusual for me to make two peanut butter and chocolate treats in a row. But, I just loved the Peanut Butter Cup Meringues I recently made and it set off a craving for this pie. Maybe it is the comfort food aspect as we enter into fall and the chilly weather has me hunkering for something rich, smooth and satisfying. You can watch me make this luscious pie in my instagram video and the recipe follows.

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The Perfect Apple Pie

The Perfect Apple Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The apple pie is practically a national treasure and for good reason, it is just about the perfect dessert. This time of year there are dozens of apples to choose from and I suggest you pick a variety for this pie. Having a mix of apples makes for a great pie, but be sure you pick apples that don’t turn to mush if you want a high, dramatic pie. The Perfect Apple Pie is from Cenk Sönmezsoy’s The Artful Baker, and trust me, I don’t hand out that description without great consideration. It is made in an unusual process, which you can watch in my instagram video. Sönmezsoy uses the ENTIRE apple (including skins & cores), so nothing is wasted and the taste and texture is brilliant. The pie is jammed packed with super thin slices of apples, so that it is dense. If you take the time to stack them, you’ll see the clean lines of apple when you cut into it. This pie takes a little longer to make, but the results are worth every second.

I topped the pie with a scoop of homemade rum raisin ice cream, because it is a family favorite. (more…)

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