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!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Teriyaki Pulled Pork

I needed a fool-proof recipe to break in our new crock pot, so after looking at a few versions of this recipe online, I decided to give it a try. I tweaked a few details for my version and will definitely be making my own teriyaki sauce next time--with a little extra spice!
This recipe is so easy but the results are tasty and complex. The final result is a mound of soft, salty pork, complimented by a slice of sweet pineapple, all enveloped by a toasted bun. You can't go wrong.

Teriyaki Pulled Pork
3 lb pork butt roast
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (10 oz) bottle teriyaki marinade (not glaze)
1 (8 oz) can pineapple slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl cornstarch

In the morning, place onion in bottom of slow cooker. Cut pork into 3 or 4 large pieces and lay on top of onion. If you bought bone-in pork don't worry about trying to debone the roast. Just drop it in the pot and remember: bones = flavor.
Pour teriyaki sauce over the top. Place the juice from the pineapple can into a measuring cup and add enough water to yield 3/4 cup. Save the pineapple slices for later. Add the water/pineapple juice to the slow cooker along with the garlic. Cover and set on low. Now go to work and let that pork cook down for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, remove pork to a large bowl. Shred with two forks (throw out the bone if there is one).
Combine cornstarch with enough cold water to dissolve it and add this to the juice in the slow cooker. Cover and set heat to high. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. After thirty minutes, return pork to the pot and stir together.
Serve on toasted buns with a pineapple slice. Enjoy!
Leftovers are perfect served over brown rice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Chocolate Anniversary

Yesterday I celebrated my first full year of living on my own. Yay for me! Do you know what this calls for?
Cake! Chocolate cake!
Any excuse for cake is a good excuse. I'd celebrate the end of every week with a cake if I could get away with it. Why not? Cake is delicious. Especially if it's rich, chocolate cake with an espresso glaze and chocolate drizzle. Mmm...
I'd been holding onto this recipe for a long time and finally decided to give it a try. It took me so long to commit because the first step calls for letting the mixture rest for two hours.
It is more than worth the wait. You have to have sourdough starter on hand for this recipe--I've had mine for almost as long as I've been living on my own. I named him Derp. Fitting name for a gloopy, beige mass of starter, I think.
Freshly fed and happy!

The starter in the recipe seems to mellows out a bit once its mixed with milk and flour and allowed to sit out. Then it bakes and creates a deep rich cake with no sour or tart notes whatsoever. If you don't have your own starter, go to the kitchen right now and make one. Seriously. Not only can you use it to make this unbelievable cake, but you can also make the best breads, rolls, pancakes, muffins, waffles, quick breads, and pizzas you have ever eaten. I love having a starter on hand. And I love this cake recipe.
Where's my fork?

What can I say? The folks at King Arthur Flour really know what they're doing. Now go get baking!
Until next time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lemon Icebox Pie

It's time to bid summer adieu, and it couldn't leave fast enough for me!  But before I bust out the ol' pumpkin recipes, here's one last nod to hot, sunny weather.
Now before y'all go all crazy on me, yes, I used store bought graham crackers--which usually contain partially hydrogenated oils. However, the brand I buy contains only palm oil--which is high in saturated fat but contains no trans fat. Make sure you read your labels!
This recipe is so simple, it's silly. And it tastes like lemon ice cream--minus the fuss.

Lemon Icebox Pie

For the crust:
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs (if you use cinnamon graham crackers, omit sugar)
2 T sugar
3 T melted butter

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle Brand sweentened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice
1 Tbl vanilla
1 Tbl zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a fork, combine crumbs, sugar (if using), and butter in a medium bowl until well mixed. Press mixture into bottoms and up sides of a 9" pie pan. I find it easier to use the bottom of a measuring cup to press my crumbs into place than fighting them with my fingers.
Bake 10 minutes.
Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and condensed milk until combined. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla and zest and pour into prepared crust, smoothing the top with an off-set spatula.
Freeze overnight. I know, I know. Trust me, it's well worth the wait!

Next time I think I'll make my edges thinner, and maybe I'll add the zest. A little color never hurt anyone, right?

Until next time!