If there’s one thing Pittsburghers are going to do, it’s celebrate the accomplishments of their fellow citizens. The past few weeks have been no different, as the City of Bridges lauds Ritual House pastry chef Zoe Peckich, the winner of the inaugural season of the Food Network’s Summer Baking Championship. Peckich won the baking show with a Chocolate Chile Cake with Spicy Mango and Chocolate Buttercream that was inspired by her mother.
Below, we quickly chatted with Peckich about her victory, and she shares her Lemon Dream Cake recipe with TABLE readers, a 14-layered lemon cake and white chocolate cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon gastrique, and almond lace topping served at Ritual House.
What did you learn in Pittsburgh that helped you win the show?
I think Pittsburgh’s food, in general, is very simple but done really well. Like we all go to our favorite bakeries or restaurants for that one special thing they offer. For instance, chocolate, [the] first thing that comes to mind is Sarris. It may just be a chocolate bar, but man, is it good.
I try to simplify my desserts and not make them complicated. I always say I’m going to do what I know and do it really well. So, I definitely had that mindset throughout the competition, which I think ultimately led to my win. I just did what I knew; nothing ever too crazy.
What did you learn from your Food Network experience that you’ll be putting into practice at Ritual House?
The competition really helped pull out my creativity, so I will try to translate that through all of my desserts!
Zoe’s Lemon Dream Cake Recipe
Lemon Cake Base Ingredients
2 cups olive oil
6 whole eggs
3 cups sugar
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups AP Flour
2 1/2 cup milk
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and sugar until well combined.
- Add in the vanilla and lemon juice and zest.
- Sift together the dry ingredients and alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk, starting with flour and ending with it.
- Mix until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Place in a hotel pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with some sugar and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before adding the cheesecake layer.
No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Ingredients
48 oz cream cheese
3 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon juice
28 oz white chocolate, melted
16 oz whipped cream
- With a paddle, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until lump-free and super smooth.
- Add in vanilla and lemon juice.
- Add in the warm melted white chocolate. Scrape. Mix until lump-free.
- Whip the heavy cream until medium peaks and then fold into cream cheese mix.
- Spread evenly onto the lemon olive oil base.
Lace Cookies Ingredients
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 brown sugar
4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup AP Flour
1 cup almond flour
½ tsp salt
- In a saucepan, combine the butter brown sugar and milk. Stir while cooking over low heat until butter and sugar have melted.
- Turn heat up to medium and cook mixture just until boiling.
- Remove from heat, add in vanilla, flour and salt, and whisk until completely combined.
- Let cool.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 7-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cookies will turn a golden brown, caramelly color.
Lemon Curd Ingredients
2 cups egg yolk
5 tbsp lemon zest
640g lemon Juice
1 tsp salt
- In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, zest, juice, and salt.
- Place over a double boiler and continuously whisk until the mixture has thickened.
- Take the curd off the heat and add in the butter.
- Place in piping bags once cooled.
Lemon Gastrique Ingredients
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider
Combine the sugar and water in pot and allow to caramelize. Look for a medium amber color.
Once caramelized, deglaze with the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. If too liquidy, allow to reduce some. If too thick, add more juice or vinegar.
2 oz Lemon Curd
2 Tbsp Gastrique
1 Tuille Cookie