Yesterday afternoon I decided to make a Boston Cream Pie. It’s a dessert Todd likes and I had most of the ingredients in the house. What I did not have, was a lot of time, so I did something quite unusual and picked the first recipe I came across. It turned out to be this one, from The Joy of Cooking.
The end result was very good and Todd loved it. I wouldn’t call it my favorite Boston Cream Pie recipe, but after looking around at all the variations, I think it would take me a year to find and pick a favorite. No two recipes are the same. Just Google Boston Cream Pie and you’ll see what I mean.
What the recipes do have in common is that they are all cakes (not pies) with a cream filling and a chocolate icing. But that’s it. Some of the cakes are yellow cakes and others are sponge. Some call for eggs, some only use yolks. And every pastry cream filling seems different too. Some are made with flour and others use cornstarch. Some call for butter, some don’t. And the chocolate toppings run the gamus as well. Gale Gand uses a ganache. Emeril uses store bought chocolate fondant (?) and the Food Network Test Kitchen makes their chocolate topping with a touch of corn syrup for shininess and, I suppose, flow.
At the end of the day, I was happy I’d chosen this recipe haphazardly because if I’d searched through the variations trying to find the best, I would have never been able to complete this in time for dessert.
I followed the directions below with a few minor changes from the original. I cooked the cake in a 9 inch round springform and split it down the center. I think it stacks a bit more neatly when made in one pan and split instead of two. As for the cake recipe, this one was rich and crumbly rather than spongy. It was good, but I think next time I’d go with a traditional sponge.
This pastry cream filling was beautiful and smooth, but pretty basic. I don’t own a double boiler, so I used a big metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. It didn’t seem thick enough at first, but was fine once it cooled and chilled.
The chocolate icing was very good, but make sure to sift the powdered sugar. I would definitely choose this icing over a ganache because in my mind, Boston Cream Pie should be topped with icing and not ganache.
I had so much fun with this recipe that I’m going to make a Boston Cream Pie Category and try to find a favorite. This will take quite some time and I do not plan on making one of these every day, but it’s a dessert Todd likes so all the recipe try-outs will get eaten.
Boston Cream Pie — Joy of Cooking
FOR THE GOLD LAYER CAKE:
2 cups sifted cake flour (make sure you sift! After sifing, flour will weigh a little less than 8 oz)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
FOR THE CUSTARD CREAM FILLING:
1 1/2 cups milk (whole)
1 vanilla bean (
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 to 4 large egg yolks, beaten (I used 3)
FOR THE CHOCOLATE ICING:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 inch round springform pan with flour-added cooking spray. If you want, you may use two 8 inch pans instead.
Sift flour again with baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light in color, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into greased pan or pans.
Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes – will take less time if using 2 pans. Cool in pan(s) on wire rack 10 minute. Remove sides of pan and let cool completely, then carefully remove cake from springform bottom. When cake is cool, split it in half horizontally.
Heat milk and vanilla bean in medium saucepan over medium heat to just below boiling. Place sugar, flour and egg yolks in top of double boiler over simmering water. Add milk and scrapings from inside of vanilla bean. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; stir. Cool mixture completely.
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Stir in cream and vanilla. Add confectioners’ sugar; mix until smooth.
Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Spread with thick layer of pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Frost with icing.
Makes 12 servings