Monday, April 23, 2012

Boston Cream Pie

First off, let me wish my husband Jim a very very happy birthday today!

Now buckle up, because I have a story to tell you.  A story about love, heartbreak, failure, persistence, and inspirational underdog-comebacks.

My wonderful same-age-as-me-for-a-couple-months-out-of-the-year husband Jim is so awesome.  He supports me in whatever I choose to pursue, no matter if my newfound hobbies cost a fortune in groceries and kitchen supplies, whether they increase our waistlines or not, whether the fruits of my labor are good or even edible.  That's love.

He even goes above and beyond, supporting my arguably OCD need to chronicle these kitchen adventures on my blog, suggesting new and exciting foods for me to try to push me to experiment and always improve myself.

So for his birthday he humbly requested a Boston Cream Pie, his favorite type of cake.

This naturally spurs on the debate about this controversial confection..."pie"?  Really?  You know you're a cake, Boston Cream, come on I mean who are you fooling?  That's all I'll say on the matter.

Anyway, I've never attempted a Boston Cream Pie before, but I mean how hard could it be?  I've made layer cakes...this is pretty much a layer cake with some sort of cream in the middle, right?

Wrong.  I mean right, but I made it a lot harder than that.

Side note about my lovely husband Jim...he is of the school of thought that when I experience the inevitable occasional kitchen failure, I should also document that for the blog.  I myself subscribe to the opposite school of thought, that I will go to great lengths to hide any and all not super great looking and tasting results from the all-seeing all-remembering eyes of the internet.  Can you blame me?

So of course first you're going to need 2 layers of delicious cake.

First I thought I would make a single 9 inch round cake and then cut it in half, put cream in the middle.  As I was making it, I questioned this decision.  I won't lie.  It seemed too short.  I want a double layer, impressive, taller cake.  So at this point I already suspected I may have screwed up.  But that's okay.  I'm working the graveyard shift again, so at this point it was only 1am and I had all night to get it right before Jim woke up the next morning.

So I took the cake out of the oven, turned it out onto a cooling rack, and frowned in dismay as most of the cake had stuck to the pan.  That's okay.  No worries.  I tasted the batter and it was great, so I'd just munch on some destroyed cake for awhile while I tried again.  Cricket and I both approved of the flavors.

On to cake version 2.0.  Came out perfect, but I still wanted a two-layer, so I started another one.  I had my stand mixer mixing away on high as I greased the pan.  Little did I know, with every mix, the stand mixer was rocking itself closer and closer to the edge of the counter.  Then all of a sudden CRASH.  My stand mixer falls to the ground, still mixing.  Batter is everywhere.  At this point it's 6am and as my poor birthday husband rushes out of the bedroom to make sure no one is hurt, I look around at all I have to show for a night's worth of work on his birthday cake.  One destroyed layer, one good layer, a broken stand mixer, and batter EVERYWHERE.  Needless to say I burst into tears.

Sometimes when stuff like that happens you just want to sit down in the batter and cry.  My awesome husband convinced me that he didn't care about a stupid cake or the stand mixer or any of it.  He talked me down and tried to convince me to just go to bed.  I laid down for a second and then decided that NO.  This stupid cake masquerading as a pie was NOT going to beat me.

So I got back on that horse and finished up the cake.  It was delicious, all the more because I overcame adversity to make it.

Boston Cream Pie
(adapted from allrecipes here and here)


2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup shortening


1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
4 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp vanilla


6 (1 oz.) squares semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Grease 2 x 9'' layer cake pans SUPER WELL with a ton of butter and then flour them.  Trace the bottom on parchment paper, cut out the parchment circle, and then butter and flour the heck out of that as well and place 1 circle in the bottom of each buttered and floured pan.  I can't stress enough how incredibly important a well greased pan is to this process.  Go overboard.  The alternative is disastrous.

For the cake: Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk together.  Add the eggs, vanilla, shortening, sour cream, and milk.  Beat on low with a paddle attachment, scraping the bowl a lot, for about 30 seconds.  Then beat on high for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350.  

Once the batter is finished, divide it evenly in the two cake pans.  Bake at the center rack for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.  Spray wire rack with baking spray and turn cakes out onto them, flipping onto their bottoms after a couple minutes to cool completely.

For the filling: Mix heavy cream and milk in a sauce\pan, stirring constantly over medium heat until bubbles start to form at the edges.  Immediately remove from heat and add sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved.

In a seperate bowl, whisk the milk and cornstarch until fully dissolved.  Beat in the eggs.  Pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture in a hot stream, stirring constantly until combined.  Return filling to sauce pan and cook over low heat until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes until the custard thickens.  Remove from heat entirely, stir in vanilla, and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the icing:  In a sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate squares together over low heat.  Remove from heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and beat vigorously until completely smooth, stir in vanilla.

To assemble:  Place the bottom layer of cake on a large plate or cake stand.  Using a rubber spatula, spread the cream over the first layer, careful not to let any spill over the sides.  Place the second layer of cake on top.  Pour the chocolate icing over the top.  You can either choose to let it spill down over the sides, or spread it using a rubber spatula, keeping it contained on the top of the cake.  Store cake in the refrigerator to allow icing to set.

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