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Posts Tagged ‘Zoe Bakes’

Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches

At this time of year, when juicy ripe peaches are plentiful, I try to come up with creative ways to make use of the sweet fruit. This month, my local co-op had a bin of the most beautiful, fragrant peaches — I think maybe the best crop I’ve had in years — and I couldn’t wait to put them to good use. I cooked them with just a touch of honey and a vanilla bean. This light-as-air angel food (great for these hot end-of-summer days) has a healthy dose of citrus zest, which nicely balances the sweet peaches.

Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches

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Rustic Black Forest Cake

This is a very tossed-together Black Forest Cake, or, as I like to say when I am too lazy to bring out the piping bag and tips, it’s “rustic.” It has all the components of the classic German torte, but without the fuss. Layers of dark chocolate cake are sandwiched with fresh whipped cream and sweet cherries spiked with kirschwasser (“cherry water,” or clear sour cherry brandy). These flavors are among the most celebrated combinations in the history of pastry making — and for good reason. This swoon-worthy homemade version of the cake is super-fast and easy to put together.

Rustic Black Forest Cake Recipe (aka Cherry Chocolate Cake)

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Easy Rhubarb-Cherry Pie


This pie was baked by my 14-year-old son. He made the dough, mixed a filling of tart rhubarb and sweet cherries, and then he created the lattice. I sat back, trying not to take over, and just watched in amazement as he figured it all out. It was a thing of beauty to see him moving so confidently in the kitchen and his pie, well you can see for yourself, the kid has skill. I was in heaven. There is nothing sweeter than a kid in the kitchen and especially when he’s baking my favorite pie.

Rhubarb-Cherry Pie Recipe

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Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jell-O


Jell-O always seems a bit like magic to me. Add water to the brightly colored, sugary powder and in no time it’s solid and jiggles like a good belly laugh. The problem is, the stuff in the box tastes like congealed, watered-down kool-aid. There is no actual fruit involved, just artificial color and flavor. But, it is so easy and fun to create a fresh fruit version. There really is nothing better (or more summery) than the taste of fresh strawberries. Take those gorgeous berries, puree them and add just enough gelatin to set the fruit in a fancy mold. Knowing how to work with unflavored gelatin properly means you can set a liquid, without having it bounce like a rubber ball. You want to use just enough to keep its shape, but still have a smooth, luscious feel. It’s a fun, all-natural and festive treat for any summer gathering.

Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jell-O Recipe

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Make This Plum Cake Before It’s Too Late

Plum Cake

As the weather gets chillier, at least here in the upper Midwest, we turn our attention over to apples and pears. The summer fruits and berries are no longer available, with the exception of Italian plums. They have a short season, so ACT NOW; they won’t last long. These little gems are good to eat, but even better to bake with. They aren’t quite as juicy or sweet as their American cousins, but they keep their shape well and their skin adds a gorgeous purple color to tarts and cakes.

The brown sugar cake batter and sweet crumb topping are a perfect compliment to the not-too-sweet fruit. It is great for breakfast with a cup of tea and/or with ice cream after dinner. This is a cake that also seems to get better the second day, if there is any left.

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Honey-Rhubarb Ice Cream

Honey-Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe

Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that people either adore or avoid. I fall into the former, and use it as much as possible during its rather short growing season. I’ve made it into crisps, pies and even eaten it raw, dipped in sugar (which is admittedly hard core).

Combining the mouth puckering sour flavor of rhubarb with sweet, creamy honey ice cream base may just be the perfect marriage. I think this is going to turn even the most ardent rhubarb haters, into its biggest fans. For those of you who just can’t get enough of it, spoon some of the remaining ruby-red rhubarb sauce over the top.

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Butterscotch Pot de Creme

This Pot de Creme is like a turbo-charged version of butterscotch pudding. The texture is like silk and the taste is sweet, with just a slight bitter edge from the burnt sugar in the butterscotch. Cooking the butter and brown sugar together until it is smoking hot is the key to the flavor. If you don’t bring them to the brink of burning, the pudding will be way too sweet for my taste. The creme fraiche (young sour cream) is unsweetened and the perfect balance for the pudding.

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The More Sweets, the Merrier

Zoe Francois Inspiration Board

When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what’s inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor’s recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

Thanksgiving dinner isn’t really complete until dessert hits the table. Preferably there will be several to choose from, and at least one should be pumpkin. It is the time of year that this orange gourd graces our plates, and it deserves to be center stage. I adore traditional pumpkin pie, but by no means should you be limited to that alone. It is also fantastic mixed with apples and streusel in a cake, or baked with brandy into a cheesecake and adorned with candied cranberries.  One of my all-time favorites is pumpkin bread pudding, which can also serve as breakfast the next morning. Next to all the pumpkin desserts there should be a caramel spice pear cake, and perhaps a spiky coconut meringue layered torte.

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