Everything You Need To Know About Zoë Bakes

As the Magnolia Network fills the screen with must-watch television, the new series "Zoë Bakes," featuring popular cookbook author and blogger Zoë François, might be the show that makes you wish for smell-o-vision. From the pies baking in the oven to the luscious cakes that could fill sweet dreams, this baking extravaganza might be the confectionery that people return to watch time and again. Because, while Zoë has her trademark saying of "eat dessert first," this show might be better described as eating dessert first, second, and last.

Since the Magnolia Network is all about showcasing storytellers, "Zoë Bakes" is more than just another baking show or baking competition. The concept is to blend techniques, sweet inspiration, and some special guests along the way. From influential bakers in Zoë's home state of Minnesota (per her official website) to members of her own family, the delectable desserts she whips up tell a tale beyond the plate — and are a way to honor all of the sweet components that makes life special.

'Zoë Bakes' hopes to inspire people to make something sweet

While many people have turned to Zoë François for her baking expertise, her new show "Zoë Bakes" is more than just a compilation of recipe how-tos. In a preview video on YouTube, the concept for the show is revealed — and it's quite simple. François is on a mission to inspire people to love to bake. "There is a special place that people go when they eat a sweet ... It's like joy," she says in the clip. "My entire career has been to elicit that reaction."

Although only one episode has been released so far, it can be expected that each future installment of "Zoë Bakes" will continue to honor that theme in some way. Beyond the baking inspiration, the Magnolia Network's connection to storytelling will also likely be woven into each episode — most interesting may be Zoë's own story up growing up on a commune in Vermont and discovering Julia Child at a young age. 

As shared in the video, the hope is to bring people joy through the viewing experience. And just like biting into a delicious dessert can spark happiness, the hope is that the little nibbles of personal experience along the way will help sweeten other people's baking endeavors, too.

'Zoë Bakes' Porch Party Pies is a welcoming first episode

The first episode of "Zoë Bakes," entitled "Porch Party Pies" (per Magnolia Network) sets the tone for the season, with a hearty mix of recipe step-by-step, talk of baking techniques, an introduction to local bakers, and a final gathering to enjoy the dessert around the table. Although the entire season episode list has yet to be revealed, it seems likely that a similar approach will be used with each new installment.

Filmed partly in Zoë 's kitchen and part on location at a local Minneapolis bakery, the affable host weaves baking technique into the process like folding butter into a perfect pie crust. Each little tidbit is the ingredient that makes the final dish even sweeter. From the stories about the freshly harvested rhubarb to how Zoë sources some of her ingredients, these morsels are just as important as carefully measuring out everything needed for the recipe. 

'Zoë Bakes' reveals important tips for home bakers, too

In the premiere episode of "Zoë Bakes," as the host makes her "porch pies," she also serves up great baking tips. As the recipe for the strawberry rhubarb pie is shown on screen, viewers receive added insider info about how to make pie dough taste even better with a winning texture.

According to Zoë, she recommends using a little vodka in her dough. She reasons this addition will help reduce the amount of water in the recipe as water can make the dough more glutenous, which makes for a tougher texture. The vodka adds moisture without impacting the gluten.

Zoë also recommends opting for cold butter and shortening when making the dough. The cold butter helps it to be flaky and the cold shortening aids in the tenderness. If this is just what we learn in episode 1, imagine how much more resourceful we'll be by the end of the season.

Shooting on location in Minnesota impacts the feel of 'Zoë Bakes'

While Minnesota might be quite chilly during its long winters, the Land of a 10,000 Lakes has a strong tie to baking and iconic food brands. As seen in the preview clip for "Zoë Bakes" on YouTube, Zoë shares that companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker have been part of the state's rich food legacy. Although it remains to be seen if these companies will be featured in upcoming episodes, the reality is that sweet treats and Minnesota are inevitably one and the same.

At one point in the video clip, Zoë references that baking warms you up both physically and spiritually. Even as seen in the first episode and preview clips, the desserts are just one component of the experience. From the memories told about the recipes to the stories shared around the table, the sweetness that lingers in the mind isn't just from the sugar on the plate. Even on the most blistering Minnesota day, a baked treat from the oven can be the solace that people crave.