Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boston Cream Pie

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While I know my family and friends look forward to dessert, I'm decidedly ambivalent about it. I enjoy vaguely sweet breakfast breads and coffee cakes far more than the more elaborate creations usually served at the end of a meal. I made an dacquoise for a friend's birthday today. It was a lovely, time consuming creation that I know she'll enjoy it, but while I was working on the meringue layers,  I started to think about the simpler American desserts that I think have more universal appeal. Apple, cherry, blueberry, pecan and pumpkin pies came to mind. As did soft strawberry ice cream and strawberry or peach short cakes. And while any any cook worth her salt should be able to whip up a vanilla or chocolate layer cake in the blink of an eye, the list would be incomplete if gingerbread, apple crisp, lemon meringue and Boston cream pie were not also included. Most of these desserts are made regularly, but Boston cream pie is starting to go the way of the dodo and is disappearing from the American table.

Boston cream pie is actually a cake that is filled with a custard or cream filling and covered with a chocolate glaze. Cake pans were not regular features of early American kitchens, so cake batter was baked in pie pans and the resulting cake was called a pie. For some cakes the name pie stuck. Boston cream pie is an updated version of the early American dish called pudding-cake pie, so when the Parker House Hotel in Boston first served this cake, they named it Boston cream pie. A French chef, hired for the opening of the hotel, is credited with making the version of pudding-cake pie that became famous. It hasn't changed much over the years. While it is a three step process, this is not a difficult dessert to make. I would like to make one suggestion that I think will make the cake a standout. Brush the layers with dark rum before it is assembled and those at your table will really sing your praise, especially if you use a lot of rum. There are many recipes for this cake, but this is the one I like to use on a regular basis. Here's how this cake is made.

Boston Cream Pie...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Saveur magazine

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1-1/2 cups flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
6 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

1) To prepare cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed of a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat until just combined. Pour into pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack; let cool completely.
2) To make filling: While cake bakes, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla seeds in a large saucepan; add yolks, and whisk until smooth. Stir in milk, and place pan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and add butter one cube at a time, whisking until smooth; stir in vanilla extract. Transfer pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill until firmed, at least 2 hours.
3) To make glaze:  Place chocolate in a bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over high heat; pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir chocolate and cream until smooth and shiny; set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
4) To assemble cream pie: Using a serrated knife, split cake horizontally into two layers so that  top layer is slightly smaller than  bottom. Spread chilled pudding over cut side of bottom layer and cover with top layer; pour chocolate glaze evenly over cake, letting it drip down the side of the cake. Refrigerate cake until glaze is set, at least 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Yield: 10 servings.

One Year Ago Today: Garlic Stewed Sparerib Nuggets

Two Years Ago Today: Crock-Pot Pork Roast with Cherry Glaze

Three Years Ago Today: Sizzling Rice Cakes with Shrimp in Chili Garlic Sauce


Ginny Hartzler said...

the bakery in the grocery store we shop in usually has these. If not, they keep some in their freezer case. And they are really good for store bought, we buy one every six weeks or so.

Unknown said...

very good... :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I do believe Boston Cream Pie was my moms favourite. She would always bake one for my birthday so I love it to.

Alicia Foodycat said...

It looks really delicious. It is sad to let these old-fashioned recipes slip away in a flood of salted caramel and cake pops.

Tanna said...

I've only had Boston Cream Pie once. It obviously wasn't a treat that created a craving... I think that might have been a different story if I had had yours. ;) blessings ~ tanna

Buttercup said...

This looks delicious and I love the rum suggestion. Wishes for a sweet Sunday!

Debbie said...

I've always wanted to make this cake but haven't. I will have to try your recipe..thanks!

Kim said...

You know Mary, when I was a kid, this was (with the lemon meringue pie) the only dessert I loved... I wasn't much of a sweet tooth back then... And here in Quebec we call the Boston cream pie simply Boston cake (g√Ęteau Boston)... It's simple but who does'nt love vanilla cake, custard and chocolate? Actually, I never made a Boston cream pie and your recipe makes me want to try it soon.

the sandwich life said...

I'm with you on desserts. The Boston Cream Pie tugs at my heart.....when I was a kid and my birthday would fall during our annual visit to my grandparents in Maine...this is what my grandmother would make me. I probably haven't had it since then but I might have to change that....

Thx said...

Hi there:

I am late in wishing you all the best for 2013. I took some time off to be with family and reenergize.

Like the pie!!!

Diane said...

Now that looks quite delicious. I have heard about this recipe but never tried it, now looks like it is the right time :) Keep well Diane

Unknown said...

Wow, that looks great, I love the idea of brushing with rum (could you maybe do a rum/espresso mix). I really have to try this.

Barbara F. said...

I had an aunt who made a really spectacular BCP regularly when I was growing up. Don't have the recipe. How would I substitute regular salt for Kosher? Use less I would think? xo


It is beyond my imagination to not love sweets.:) Sometimes I wish that I didn't.

I have never made boston cream pie. Maybe it is time. So pretty.

How is your new year going, Mary?


JG said...

Yum! Growing up in MA, this was one of the first "cakes" that I learned to make. So good and yours looks great! :)

Ellen Whyte said...

I've always wondered what a Boston Cream pie is and I thought it was like Choux Pastry filled with cream and chocolate like a Dutch Moorkop or large cold profiterole.

Now I know!

teresa said...

oh this looks so good, i haven't had boston cream pie in a long time.

Pondside said...

My mum regularly made Boston Cream Pie when I was growing up. I don't know that I've ever made one. I remember it as a real treat!

DH said...

How interesting- I always wondered why it was called "pie" when it's clearly cake! Thanks for enlightening us. Would you share your dacquoise recipe with us too? I've wanted to make that for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I'd trust your recipe over others though :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

DH, I'll be happy to post the dacquaise recipe as we get closer to the Easter holiday. It is not the kind of dessert that most folks who visit here would enjoy, so I can't bump what is already in the hopper, but I promise to feature it. Be patient. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Claudia said...

Love how all-American unfussy it is. I am trying to learn to make fussier cakes - just to stretch. But really - give me a cobbler (or this cream cake) and I'm good for a fortnight.and I'm good

Keeley said...

BCP is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Thanks for sharing your recipe... I may make it this weekend.

Unknown said...

That Boston Cream Pie looks awesome. Can I use cake flour or All Purpose Flour.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Jeannie I use all-purpose flour to make the cake layers.

Anonymous said...

When I made the filling it looked fine initially but then became lumpy? Any suggestions how to avoid this next time? Not sure what I did wrong?

Mary Bergfeld said...

I've never had this problem so I had to go looking for an answer to your question. I think you'll find this helpful -

Anonymous said...

Ok thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know what I did wrong last time, but this time it turned out perfectly!!

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