Friday, November 2, 2007

Boston Cream Pie

yes, it's a long recipe, but it's not a hard one AND you do it in three steps that can be HOURS apart - one very simple little cake, the ever-so-slightly fussy pastry cream and the final filling of the cake and making the chocolate glaze. Easy!
The recipe that I use is really, really long, so I won't post it, but Boston Cream Pie is an eggy yellow cake (one layer) that's split down the middle and filled with vanilla custard. You then cover the whole deal in chocolate glaze. It's VERY good and is really helping with the whole fat problem I've been having.

Okay, here's the recipe, which comes from my beloved copy of Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts:
I make the base from a single layer of hot water spongecake. I LOVE single-layer recipes for cakes - it makes a nice amount of cake for Sunday night supper (sprinkled with icing sugar and served with berries, perhaps), and this recipe is nicely frugal (it's made from nearly nothing) and easy.
Preheat your oven to 350. Grease the bottom of a round 9" cake pan.
Sift together:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt, or even slightly less.
And set them aside for now.
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat:
2 eggs
until they're light.
Add 1 cup sugar
Beat until light, fluffy and lemony yellow.
Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Pour VERY GENTLY
1/3 cup of boiling water
down the side of the bowl and fold in gently, deflating the batter as little as possible. Quickly but gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. "Swirl the pan to smooth the top without deflating the batter" my recipe says, and good luck with that.
Bake until the top is golden and springs back lightly when touched, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. COOL THE CAKE COMPLETELY on the wire rack before doing anything with it, because it will fall apart if it's still warm.
It's an easy little cake, honest.

Okay, so onto the vanilla pastry cream.
Get a heavy saucepan and rinse it with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat:
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
and mix for 1 1/2 minutes or until everything is pale and light and the cornstarch isn't lumpy.
Remove the saucepan from theat heat and whisk some of the hot milk into the egg mixture. (you're doing that so you don't end up with scrambled eggs in milk) Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking CONSTANTLY. Boil for one minute and do NOT STOP WHISKING. This sounds really dire, but I find it meditative and almost zen-like, really. It's going to thicken astoundingly at the end of that minute, and you're going to remove it from the heat and whisk in
2 teaspoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour the pastry cream into a clean bowl (and my recipe says to strain it, but for the record I have never done that and it's been fine). Press some waxed paper directly on the top to keep a skin from forming and cool it in the fridge for two hours.
You're done the hard part!

So. Now you have a cool cake and cool pastry cream. Carefully brush off the excess crumbs from your cake, and split it in half with a serrated knife. (horizontally. Do I need to say that?) Place the bottom layer of your cake on your loveliest cake plate and spread the pastry cream evenly over the cake, reaching nearly to the edges. Replace the top cake layer and press gently into place.

All you have to do now is to make a chocolate glaze and chocolate glazes are the easiest things in the world. Melt together over low heat:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
(and my recipe also calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup but I ALWAYS skip that. You can add it if you like.)
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and thicken until you can spread it. Or you can do what I do and pour it over the cake right away and eat it while it's molten. Either way, let the glaze set for 10 minutes or so on your cake, and save any leftovers in the fridge.

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