I am sitting here, late at night, just thinking if there is one item or recipe that embraces New England cuisine completely. Would it be maple syrup? chowder? Pumpkin? Cranberries? The answer is probably all the above, and as I reference in my book, it is the way we prepare our ingredients that separates us from the rest of the country. We, as Yankee's, know how to turn our apples into the best Apple Cider Pie and our cranberries into decadent Cranberry Orange Coffee cake. But there is one dessert that has been part of our heritage for over a century and a half. That would be the Boston Cream Pie. Although I believe Chef Sazian, of the Parker House in Boston, got his inspiration for this "pie" from a new York column the same year(1856), it is still a beloved pie to us New Englander's.
Now for those of you who just don't have the time to take the necessary steps to prepare this delightful recipe, using a yellow sponge cake recipe, prepared vanilla pudding and chocolate fudge heated in the microwave suffices for the most part. But why not take a little time and make it just once in your life so you can enjoy teh taste of real Boston Cream pie.
The Yankee Chef's Boston Cream Pie
Notice i don't use salt in the recipe. It does absolutely NOTHING for this recipe so why add the extra salt? But I will give you one great hint. Want just a little more New England flavor? Add some thawed, chopped frozen cranberries to the cake batter. Seeing cranberries studding the inside of that yellow sponge cake is not only gorgeous to look at, but gives it a tangy bite that sits well with the buttery, sweet flavors you are about to enjoy.
2 c. sifted cake flour*
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract or 1 T. imitation
3/4 c. light cream or half-and-half
1 recipe Vanilla Bean Pudding, recipe below
Chocolate Glaze, recipe below
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper or generously spray with nonstick cooking spray and lightly flour, tapping off excess that doesn't stick to pan. Beat the butter and sugar together at medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla extract. Stir the cake flour and baking powder together using a whisk. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat the flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture, adding it in thirds and alternating with the cream. Beat until the batter is smooth.
Transfer to the prepared pan and bake on the center shelf of the oven until the cake tests clean when a skewer is inserted into the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
To assemble, split the unmolded cake using a long serrated knife. Spread Vanilla Bean Pudding over the bottom half of the cake and place the top layer over the pudding. Pour Chocolate Glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.
*You don't very often see The Yankee Chef use cake flour, but in a delicate cake such as Boston Cream Pie and Angel Food Cake, I prefer it and let me tell you why. If you were to substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour, the result will be a little off because not all flours are created equal. All different types of flours have different protein, or gluten, contents and weights, resulting in various results. All purpose flour has roughly 11 % protein content while cake flour has between 6-8 %. Many recipes need that low protein content to remain tender and light, such as our recipe here. Other recipes, however, can stand up to the difference and accept the substitution reliably, such as most cakes and breads. Keep in mind that all-purpose flour is strong.
If you need to substitute all-purpose instead of cake flour, take out 2 T. per cup of all-purpose if you don't have any cornstarch at home. If you do, I highly recommend replacing the deleted 2 T. with 2 T. cornstarch. Why? Because cornstarch is gluten free, thusly ending up diluting the gluten content while replacing the original amount of flour taken out.
Vanilla Bean Pudding
Or if you are in a higher tax bracket than I am, you can call it Creme Patisserie.
3/4 c. milk
1 c. light cream
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. butter or margarine
Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into a pot that contains the milk and cream. Add the scraped bean as well and simmer over medium heat until scalding, whisking almost constantly. Whisk the eggs, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together in a separate bowl. Slowly ladle a cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk well. slowly add back this bowl of egg/hot cream mixture back into the pot and continue whisking over medium heat unt5il it thickens and just begins to boil. This is called tempering. Immediately transfer to a bowl and remove and discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the vanilla extract and butter. Let cool, whisk again before filling the cake..
1/2 c. heavy cream
7 oz. chopped dark chocolate*
1 T. butter or margarine
3 T. maple syrup or corn syrup(your choice of light or dark)
Heat the cream to a boil over medium heat, whisking almost constantly. The seco9nd it starts to come to a boil, pour into a sturdy bowl and add the chocolate, butter and maple syrup. Whisk and let cool to tepid and thickened. Whisk again before glazing.
*This could even be a chocolate candy bar if need be.
To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Remove the top half. Pour and evenly spread the pudding over the bottom half. Replace the top half and slowly, and evenly, pour your glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip over the sides. Let cool and serve.
Here is the recipe that the Omni Parker House uses for their Boston Cream Pie the last I visited them a couple of years back.
Boston Cream Pie
4 cups pastry cream (recipe follows)
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the pan
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1.Prepare and chill pastry cream.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.In two mixing bowls, separate the egg yolks and whites. Add 1/2 cup sugar to each bowl. Beat the egg whites until moderately stiff, but not dry. Beat the yolks at high speed until light yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Fold one third of the egg whites into the yolks, then fold in the remaining whites. Gradually add the flour, folding in with a spatula. Fold in the melted butter.
4.Pour the batter into a 10-inch greased springform pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the surface is golden and the center is dry when tested with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool thoroughly.
5.Combine the chocolate with 2 tablespoons of water, and melt in a microwave oven or double boiler. Reserve. Using a long serrated knife, level the top of the cake and slice into two layers of equal thickness. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pastry cream for the sides of the cake, and spread the remaining cream on one layer. Top with the second layer.
6.Top the cake with the chocolate mixture. Combine confectioners' sugar, corn syrup and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix well. Place in a piping bag with a 1/8-inch tip. Pipe spiral lines starting from the center of the cake. Score lines with the point of a paring knife, starting at the center and pulling outward to the edge. Spread the sides of the cake with a thin layer of pastry cream, and press toasted almonds into the cream.