Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie - made March 22, 2011 from Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody (book #66)

As many know, Boston Cream Pie isn't actually a pie but is a yellow cake filled with pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze or ganache.  I've had a fancy individual-sized version of Boston Cream Pie when I was, appropriately enough, in Boston but it didn't really feel like a real Boston Cream Pie because it was presented as a fancy little yellow cake with cream filling.  I pictured Boston Cream Pie to be more homey and less artfully professional.

So I decided to finally make my own Boston Cream Pie.  I found 2 recipes in a couple of different cookbooks that called for a chocolate pastry cream but I decided to veer from that to make the regular vanilla pastry cream.  I normally don't like creamy centers or custard-y type things but oddly enough, I love pastry cream.  Well, I love the pastry cream I make from my CIA recipe.  So it was a no-brainer to substitute that pastry cream in this recipe and make a yellow cake filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze for this Boston Cream Pie.

I needed it for a dinner tonight with a couple of friends but it's always risky to try a new recipe for company in case it doesn't turn out.  The prudent thing to do is taste test it first but you can't very well make a 9" cake and cut out a taste test slice before bringing it to the dinner.  It'll look like you're bringing leftover cake after you've had a piece.  Tacky.  I solved the problem by making this into mini Boston cream pies and baking individual-size desserts in my molten chocolate cake pan.  One recipe made 9 little cakes, plenty to taste test from and serve tonight.

I baked the cakes and made the pastry cream first then went for a 7-mile walk to run some errands before I came back home to make the chocolate frosting and assemble the cakes.  I did the taste test cake first.  Hmmm.  Can't say I loved it.  Which was unfortunate because the cakes smelled so good coming out of the oven and seemed like just the right texture.  But once they cooled then I sandwiched them with the chilled pastry cream and topped with the warm chocolate icing, the combination wasn't as good as I had hoped.  I think it's because I prefer slightly warm cakes.  The vanilla cakes, when at room temperature, seemed a little dense.  They weren't dry exactly but not as good as if they were warm.  Fortunately I had only assembled one cake.  I've decided to bring the rest with me, unassembled, and plan to put them together at my friend's house, warm them up slightly then top them with the chocolate icing.  Warm cake, warm pastry cream and warm icing - all good.  Next time, I'll search for a recipe that produces a lighter, more moist cake.

2 cups (9.4 ounces) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) sugar
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup (6 ounces) whole milk

Pastry Cream
3 extra-large egg yolks
¼ cup (2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups (11 ounces) milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt

1.    Preheat the oven to 350⁰F with the rack in the center position.  Spray a 9 ½” springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.  Butter the parchment and dust with flour, tapping out the excess flour.
2.    Cake: Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  With an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix to combine them well.  Pour and scrape  the batter into the prepared pan.
3.    Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown, the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of he cake comes out clean.  Transfer the cake, in its pan, to a wire rack; let it cool completely in the pan.
4.    Pastry cream: Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt together in a medium metal bowl.  Place a large sieve over another medium metal bowl and set aside.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Whisk about half the hot milk into the egg-yolk mixture, then pour the egg-yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until it thickens and boils.  Use the whisk to reach all over the bottom of the pan so that the pastry cream doesn’t burn.  Let the mixture boil for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.  Strain the mixture through the sieve; use a rubber spatula to push the pastry cream through the sieve.  Add the chocolate and butter, stirring until the chocolate has melted completely, then stir in the Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
5.    Glaze: Place the chocolate, butter, 2 tablespoons of water, the corn syrup and salt in a medium metal bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water.  Stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted and the glaze is smooth.  Use while warm or else refrigerate until you’re  ready to use then reheat until it’s smooth and pourable.
6.    Assemble the cake: Release the sides of the pan, invert the cake onto a wire rack and remove the pan base and the parchment paper.  Re-invert the cake.  Use a long, serrated knife to split the cake layer in half horizontally.  Place the bottom half, cut-side up, on a serving plate.  Spread the pastry cream on the cake, then top with the second split layer, cut-side down.  Pour the glaze onto the top of the cake; use an offset metal spatula to smooth the glaze over the top of the cake so that it spills over the sides.  Don’t spread it on the sides, let it spill naturally.

The cake can be kept, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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