Let’s Talk Food: Boston Cream Pie
Boston Cream Pie is actually a genoise-style cake, with cream in the middle and drizzled with a chocolate ganache, and not a pie. It was invented in Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel by French chef Sanzian’s bake staff in 1856. It was the first hotel to have hot and cold running water, and the first to have an elevator, so it was a classy hotel in its day.
The Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official Massachusetts State Dessert on Dec. 12, 1996.
I grew up eating Boston Cream Pie from Robert’s Bakery so was expecting a light cake, cream filled in between the layers and chocolate drizzle. When we ordered a slice of Boston Cream Pie at Legal Seafoods at Long Wharf in Boston, their interpretation was more like a tiramisu. It consisted of the light, and thinly cut angel type cake that was soaked in espresso liquid, vanilla custard, drizzled with rum caramel and chocolate ganache sauces, like a deconstructed Boston Cream Pie. Although not what I remembered from Robert’s Bakery, it was excellent and I ate the whole thing!
This is how the typical Boston Cream Pie is made, unlike the one at Legal Seafoods.
Boston Cream Pie
Heat in medium saucepan over medium heat until just simmering:
2 cups half-and-half
Whisk in a medium bowl until smooth:
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
Add and whisk until well mixed and no lumps:
1/4 cup flour
Remove half-and-half from heat and whisking constantly, slowly add 1/2 cup to yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, mix the rest of the mixture to half-and-half in saucepan.
Return saucepan to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until burst to the surface, mixture thickens, 8 minutes. The bubbles will disappear as the pastry cream cooks. Remove from heat, whisk in:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk until the butter is melted. Strain cream through fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Press lightly greased plastic wrap on surface of cream so it does form a “skin” on top, refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans. Whisk in a medium bowl:
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan, heat over low heat until butter is melted:
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Remove from heat, add:
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cover to keep warm.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip on high speed until light and airy, 5 minutes:
3 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
Add hot milk, whisk by hand until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated.
Working quickly, divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake cake until tops are light brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking through baking. Transfer cakes to wire rack, let cool completely for 2 hours. Run thin knife around edge of pans, then invert onto wire racks. Remove parchment paper, then turn cake right side up.
Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Whisk pastry cream briefly, spoon onto center of cake. Using rubber spatula, spread evenly to cake edge. Place second layer on top of pastry cream, bottom side up, making sure layers line up. Press lightly on top of cake to level. Refrigerate cake while preparing glaze.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to simmer:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Remove from heat, and let sit, covered for 5 minutes:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Whisk mixture gently until smooth.
Pour glaze onto center of cake. Use rubber spatula to spread glaze to edge of cake, letting excess drip decoratively down side. Chill for three hours. Carefully pull out pieces of parchment from beneath cake before serving.
If we reminisce about Boston Cream Pie from Robert’s Bakery when we were growing up in Hilo, a Boston Cream type cupcake which was filled with a custard-type cream from Hilo Pastry Shop also brings back wonderful memories when life was a piece of cake or cupcake!
Hawaii Community College starts up again next Monday so stay tuned for the opening of the weekly international menus with the second-year culinary students, planning, preparing the meals and waiting tables at the Bamboo Hale starting hopefully the end of the month. As this is the opportunity for the second-year students to practice their skills before going out in the real world in May, please support the college and students by making reservations for lunch.
Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.
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