Zoë bakes cakes Everything you need to know to make your favorite layers, bundts, loaves, and more

Zoë François

Book - 2021

Cake is the ultimate symbol of celebration, used to mark birthdays, weddings, or even just a Tuesday night. Yet too many people use chemical-laden mixes even though a cake is so easy to make from scratch and infinitely more fun to share. In Zoë Bakes Cakes, bestselling author Zoë François demystifies the craft of cakes with more than 100 easy-to-use recipes, showing how to get gorgeous confections on the table to mark any occasion, big or small.

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2nd Floor 641.8653/Francois Checked In
California : Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC [2021]
Main Author
Zoë François (author)
Other Authors
Sarah Kieffer (photographer)
First edition
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
261 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
  • Pound cakes, quick breads, and bundts
  • Fruit-studded cakes, upside down or otherwise
  • Soaked cakes
  • Cake layers, loaves and sheets
  • Light-as-air cakes
  • The layered cakes
  • Rolled and fancy cakes
  • Icing, frostings, buttercreams, and ganaches
  • Fillings and flourishes.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Pastry chef François (coauthor, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) delivers in this solid recipe collection more than 100 recipes aimed at taking the guess work out of cake making. The author's professional background shines through in the book's opening section, which features a user-friendly and lavishly photographed guide to the fundamentals of baking, covering ingredients, tools, and cake-baking basics from measuring ingredients to frosting the finished product. Recipes are organized by type (pound cakes, soaked cakes, layered cakes, etc.) and range from classics (angel food cake and Boston cream pie) to more inventive offerings (a tempting orange-juice-and-liqueur-infused Greek orange phyllo cake and a decadent meringue-topped Blackberry Diva Cake). The projects grow more complex as the volume proceeds, culminating in a section of "rolled and fancy cakes" that includes a bûche de noël with halva buttercream and a wedding cake. The recipes themselves are clearly written, with measurements in volume and weight, though home bakers may find they need to flip through the book more than they'd like to locate subrecipes (the hazelnut torte has five, for instance). Still, this is an excellent guide, and the tutorial alone is worth the price of admission. (Mar.) Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

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Introduction My obsession with cake started in an unexpected way--with the humble Twinkie. It was tucked inside a Charlie Brown lunch box, unfortunately not mine, and that little cake opened up a whole new world. A lifelong love affair with all things cake was ignited on my very first day of kindergarten. Perhaps the average kid wouldn't even have blinked at that iconic tube of sponge cake, with its freakishly white and delicious filling squished inside, as if by magic. But, I wasn't average. I grew up with my parents on a series of communes, which absolutely had its benefits. In 1969, I could toddle sans clothes around the Woodstock Festival with a backdrop of screaming guitars, as if it were any other day; in fact, I did just that. I have visceral memories of sitting in my dad's vast garden with the smell of tomato plants vining around me, mixed with dirt, pine trees, and wood smoke. The counterculture to which my parents adhered included a back-to-the-land philosophy on food. We lived in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, on a dirt road that was impassable by anything other than foot for long stretches of the year, due to mud or snow. Geography compelled our self-reliance. So, growing our own food was a necessity, not merely a fashionable trend, and we raised chickens for eggs and meat, a rather nasty-tempered collection of rams and sheep, and a cow for milk and the resulting cream that also became our butter. My first kitchen memory as a wobbly toddler was standing inside the "Big House." This was the only permanent structure on the land and where everyone on the commune gathered for cooking and a respite from the winter. The room was filled with singing and music while sharing the chore of churning cream into butter. That is probably why, to this day, I find music (and butter) essential parts of baking. If you know my Instagram baking tutorials, you're familiar with the soundtracks that often start with Joni Mitchell and bring it all home with the dance beat of Drake by the end of the recipe. Along with tending the gardens, my dad kept bees. The beeswax was transformed into ornate candles in a makeshift factory we had within a geodesic dome built out of VW car hoods (because it isn't really a commune without a geodesic dome). We sold the candles at the local co-op, along with homemade granola and bread that my Aunt Melissa baked. There was also sap collected from the maple trees on our eighty-plus acres of land. We brought the sloshing pails to a neighbor's sugarhouse, where it was processed into syrup. Honey and maple syrup were the only two sweeteners I ever knew, and I was quite fine with that. Until that Twinkie. . . . Today, those cylindrical cakes with the mystery creme on the inside are synonymous with junk food; but to a sugar-deprived flower child, they were a revelation--a parting of the seas, as it were, and the source of a newly born passion. I must have given my folks an earful about the deception they'd been pulling on me all those years. Carob was the actual lie--and decidedly not chocolate--despite all their lip service to the contrary. Grapes were fruit, period. Drying grapes in the sun to shrivel into raisins does not change them into candy. I fought that injustice with all the fervor and dedication those wonderful hippies had instilled in me. The baking began soon after, tossing ingredients and a handful of hope in a bowl and expecting some sort of alchemy to return as cake. I was eight or nine years old before a miracle occurred by way of a Dutch Baby recipe, courtesy of my friend, and fellow commune-dweller, Sasha. That glorious mix of flour, eggs, and milk puffed to the point of exploding in the oven. We wolfed it down with maple syrup and slices of McIntosh apples from our yard. It was an auspicious beginning. A parade of knowledge marched into my kitchen after that. First came the Time Life books on French cooking, which still hold space on my stuffed cookbook shelves. Through them, an attempt at a chocolate mousse was a gritty disaster, because I didn't know that adding coffee didn't mean Folgers coffee grounds. Lesson learned: mousse should be velvety, not chewy. The next batch was spot-on. Soon I had baked my way through Lee Bailey's Country Kitchen, Baking with Julia, and Martha Stewart's everything; Ina Garten's brownies were on high rotation. Over the years, my affection for sugar only deepened, along with a determination to figure out its transformational powers. Excerpted from Zoë Bakes Cakes: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Favorite Layers, Bundts, Loaves, and More [a Baking Book] by Zoë François All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.