Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boston Cream Pie

My husband is a big fan of Boston Cream Pie, so, for his birthday the other day, I made him one. It was my first attempt at making this type of cake, and for the most part, it was wonderful!  Not so much in looks - next cake will be better - but, the overall taste was great. All three parts - cake, pastry cream middle and chocolate glaze on top - were oh so yummy.

I used a combination of recipes to make the cake. For the cake portion, I made a basic butter cake recipe from Betty Crocker. Instead of putting the batter into 2, 9-inch cake pans I used a 9-in springform pan and split the baked & cooled cake in two. Though quite tasty, texture was not quite right. I either beat the butter on too high a speed or after adding flour and milk alternately, I mixed the batter too much - next cake will be better.

The pastry cream recipe was part Martha Stewart for ingredients and amounts, part Betty Crocker for preparation technique.  I have made pastry cream many times before. Most recipes require a complicated process of steeping the milk with a vanilla bean, then tempering the eggs, etc., etc. But, it doesn't need to be that complicated. The truth is, I didn't have a vanilla bean to steep. My process is simple: mix the dry ingredients together, mix the eggs and milk together, then join the two mixtures in a heavy pan and cook till the mixture comes to a boil. Take off the heat, add the butter and vanilla and voila - pastry cream. So simple. The only 'professional' step I adhere to is to strain the cream to remove any lumps or bits of egg membrane. This makes the cream perfectly smooth. Especially important for cream pies.

And finally, for the glaze, I used a recipe I found online from Country Living Magazine. Basically, its a ganache, but with the addition of a little butter and corn syrup.  I have made simple ganache before and found it too thick. The butter and corn syrup seems to have made it a bit smoother and silkier. 

The trickiest part was the final assembly.  You want the cream to peek out between the cake layers just enough and in an even amount to look right - next cake will be better. As for the glaze, first it has to be perfectly smooth, no lumps of chocolate or butter, and you have to work fast while the glaze is still quite hot for the best coating. Also, be very careful while pouring the glaze over the top to ensure not too much pours off the sides and that the drips are fairly even - next cake will be better.

Would definitely make again mindful of these above mentioned refinements,  so that the next cake will indeed be better.

Boston Cream Pie

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 9-inch springform pan by greasing bottom and sides. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit and grease parchment. 

In medium-size bowl, sift flour (again), with salt and baking powder.  Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla on low speed until light and fluffy (several minutes). 

Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating well each time and scraping bowl to ensure well mixed.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Do not over beat with each addition. Remove paddle (or mixers) and using a plastic spatula, scrape sides and bottom of bowl and turn batter one or two more times to ensure batter is well mixed.

Add batter to prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes.  Let cool completely. 

Pastry cream filling:

5 egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla


In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. 

In a medium-size bowl beat egg yolks. Add the milk and mix together. Add milk/eggs to saucepan. 
Stir to mix together and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute.  
Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. 
Stir and then strain into a heat-proof bowl to cool. 

Cover mixture with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours.

Chocolate glaze:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 T. unsalted butter
3 T. corn syrup

Heat cream to a boil. 

Pour into a medium-size bowl filled with the chopped chocolate, butter and corn syrup. 

Let set for 1 minute and then stir until smooth and silky.  Use immediately to coat top of cake.

Split cake in half. Set top half aside. 

Carefully spoon pastry cream, evenly, on cut side of bottom half to approximately 1/2 inch from cake edge.  

Place top half of cake on cream and lightly press to push cream just to edge of cake layers. 

Pour hot chocolate glaze over cake top, starting from the center of the cake.  Gently, move the glaze ever so slightly over the edges of the cake so drips fall evenly and not all the way to the bottom of the cake.


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