Friday, May 5, 2017

Boston Cream Pie, part two (also part final ... for now)

So, last week we looked at the process for making a pastry cream - ending up with something that I still feel was a little too fluffy/thin to be a really good Boston Cream Pie filling. But - following recipes as I do (at least the first time through) - I made the cream and got ready to move forward with the pie.

Again, in case you've forgotten, I was working with the first Boston Cream Pie recipe I was able to find in my gazillion cookbooks:
(We need to thank Beth Z. for this one landing on my shelf.)
You'll notice, if you look closely, that this recipe is broken into two parts: The Cake and The Glaze. (This is on top of the fact that one of the ingredients is literally listed as "Filling.")

The "Latin" version sounds... interesting... Possibly, if you're having a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend, you could try it and let me know how it goes.
Though "Boston Latin" sounds like a prep school.
I started out with what I needed for the cake:

If you noticed that there are two different kinds of extract in that photo, it's because one is vanilla and the other is almond.
NOTE: "Bourbon" vanilla does NOT include any bourbon (though most of the time there is some alcohol in it). This simply indicates that it is from the Ile Bourbon.
Two things struck me as I began working on the cake:

  1. It only makes ONE 9-inch cake layer.
  2. The recipe doesn't say whether or not to soften the butter before starting.
I opted to go with the recipe and not soften the butter, which, I'll admit, had me looking into my bowl with some trepidation.

I mean... Who wants butter chunks in a cake? In a croissant, maybe. In a puff pastry, probably. In a cake? Hmm...

Luckily, adding in eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond, made a huge difference. (They also made the kitchen smell pretty amazing.)
This photo seems to be sideways.

In basic cake technique, the flour mixture and the milk went in alternately.

And we ended up with cake batter, which went into the prepared (greased and floured) cake pan.

While that was in the oven, I set about making the chocolate glaze, since the recipe talks about it needing to cool before being used.

If you come to visit, you'll probably find at least one bottle or jar somewhere in the kitchen or pantry that is upside down, as I try to coax out the last little bit of whatever it is.
I have to admit that I've always been kind of amazed at how different liquids rise and fall when mixed - and how some blend easier than others. This resulted in me having some fun with the cream and corn syrup.
Immediately before this photo was taken, you could see a huge hole in the middle of the cream where the corn syrup had taken up residency. I swear.
There are some things that are really kind of fun to do in the kitchen. Pouring chocolate chips into hot milk (and corn syrup) and watching chemistry happen is one of them.

In almost no time, this:

Turns into this:
Those are not - I repeat not - finger marks on the back of my spatula. I would never put my fingers into a hot pan of chocolatey goodness. (I may, however, run my fingers across the back of a slightly cooler spatula. But that isn't what those marks are from. I promise.)
Meanwhile, in the oven, the cake batter had turned into... well... cake. (You were expecting, maybe, cinnamon-sugar elephant ears?)

After an appropriate cooling period, I flipped the cake out of the pan. Or at least most of it. Honestly. I have NOT been having good luck with things that need to be flipped out of pans, lately.

So there we have our one cake layer. Of course, since I made that pastry cream last week, we all know that we need to have something to fill, right? Time to get out the long serrated knife.

I know that there are professionals who do this all the time. I, however, am not one of them. So I was doing this all by feel, hoping to get the tiers to be fairly equal - and fairly level. 

When my cuts actually met up back at the start, I was pretty excited. Peeling the two apart, though, I became very happy that pastry cream and chocolate glaze would be helping me level it all out.

This, of course, meant it was time to start the assembly of the pie-cake (cake-pie?). First step: Spread the fluffy pastry cream all over the bottom half of the cake.

I had been second-guessing the consistency ever since I made it. And, when I spread it on the cake I got even more concerned. It's very fluffy - it felt a little like a whipped cream frosting when I was working with it. I mean... it tasted okay, but it lost a lot of its appeal when it went from being custard to being cream.

Nevertheless, I moved forward and placed the remaining tier on, then poured/spooned/spatula-ed the glaze on top.

As you can see, the glaze was actually a bit thicker by the time it went onto the cake. It stayed in place pretty well, consequently.

I actually had to coax it a little to get it to go over the edges, instead of just being a 1/4-inch thick disk of chocolate on the top of the cake. 
If you look closely (or even if you just glance, really), you can see that the cream didn't want to stay in place, and oozed out of the sides a bit.
Letting it "set" for a bit, we cut into it a few hours later.
It seemed easier to show the cake, instead of the slices.
If you look closely, you can see that there are some crumbs on the plate - and that the cream is kind of going everywhere. That's pretty much what it was like to eat it, too: it was a little dry/crumby, and the cream wanted to go everywhere as you tried to fork through it (especially because the thick chocolate topping made cutting through it a bit more difficult than expected).

Did it taste good? Yes. The almond/vanilla of the cake worked really well, though the cream could have used a bit more of the custard's sweetness.

Did it survive in the fridge? Not too well. Even fully covered, the cake layers dried out pretty quickly in the fridge, with the chocolate layer getting progressively more difficult to get through.

Will I make Boston Cream Pie again in the future? Sure. Why not? (And I've already found a recipe in another cook book that might be a bit more what I was originally hoping for.) Just give us a few weeks to recover from the last one, first.

This set of recipes became my blog post because someone tossed the idea to me. If you've got a recipe you want someone to try for one reason or another (to work out the kinks or to see if it's worth your time), let me know!

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