Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boston Cream Pie

Two days ago marked our 200th sale at the catering/meal delivery place where I work. You know what I'm going to say, right? Time for cake! We decided on a Boston Cream Pie to mark the occasion.

Before making this cake, I had never made pastry cream. I had, however, made vanilla pudding. Turns out, they're basically the same. If you've never made a custard, fear not; homemade pastry cream is too easy not to make from scratch. Just please, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not buy pudding and stuff it between your cake layers. It will taste as bad as it sounds.

This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, a wonderful and reliable recipe source. Boston Cream Pie has a few more steps than your traditional yellow cake with chocolate frosting, but a few elements can be made in advance. For instance, the pastry cream will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. Also, I baked the cake one day in advance, wrapped it tightly in plastic, and refrigerated it until I was ready to assemble the final cake.

Boston Cream Pie

For the cake:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
*Don't rush to the store for cake flour; you'll need cornstarch to make pastry cream, so read the box. Cornstarch+flour=cake flour. Amazing, I know.

1 1/2 cups prepared pastry cream (see below)

For the glaze
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chunks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" round cake pan with non-stick spray, line it with parchment, and spray the parchment.
  2. To prepare the cake: In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until very thick, until the batter falls from the paddle in thick ribbons. This will take a few minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Bring the milk and butter to a simmer in a small saucepan. Slowly stream it into the egg/sugar mixture with the mixer going, and beat for another minute.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over the cake batter. Mix on low speed just until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Check carefully for lumps and remove any with a small spoon. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, or until it's a deep golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven, run a table knife around the edges, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto to a rack to cool completely.
  7. When the cake is completely cool, use a long serrated knife or a cake slicer to slice into two equal layers. Fill with the pastry cream, spreading it right to the edges. Replace the top layer.
  8. Prepare the glaze by melting the chocolate, corn syrup, and cream together until smooth and lump free. Add the vanilla and stir well. Pour the glaze over the filled cake, allowing some to drip down the sides and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge, well wrapped in plastic.
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into egg yolks to temper them.
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture through a strainer back into the remaining simmering milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
  6. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), and then refrigerate until cool.
Note: This pastry cream recipe yields 3 cups, or twice what you'll need for your Boston Cream Pie. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to five days. Makes a good excuse to try your hand at cream puffs!

Now, what does Boston Cream Pie have to do with today's holiday? Absolutely nothing. Happy Halloween!
Until next time!