Monday, February 4, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Post

January is finally over - it was no friend of the Anderson family, nor of their car! But we survived the untimely end of our vehicle, and even our colorful bruises are by now almost history.

Fortunately we survived the collision - our car did not!
Time for a brand new month, a brand new car - and a brand new Avid Baker's Challenge!

This year we use King Arthur Flour recipes as inspiration, and, with January's "Panettone Muffins", we were off for a roaring start.

"Boston Cream Pie" is a classic. In 1856, Monsieur Sanzian, French chef of the Parker House Hotel in Boston, turned ye olde custard filled "Pudding Cake Pie" into an elegant dessert by adding a layer of chocolate icing.

He also dressed the sides with almond slivers, but King Arthur's and other versions do not.

This so called pie is no pie at all, but a sponge cake, filled with a layer of pastry cream, and topped with chocolate ganache. Eggy and rich as it is, it doesn't keep very long and should be eaten within two or three days (at the most.)

Having only one co-eater at home, I decided to make a smaller version with half of the Boston Cream Pie recipe, using a 7" springform pan. I also used King Arthur's highly recommended Pastry Cream (1/4 recipe.)

King Arthur apparently has a pronounced sweet tooth. The amount of sugar in the cake seems very high - I reduced it by half, and it was still quite sweet.

The original recipe suggests rubbing a piece of butter over the surface of the hot pastry cream before covering it with plastic wrap, to prevent sticking. I buttered the plastic wrap - much easier than messing around with the cream.

The smaller cake took only 40 minutes to develop a deep golden brown. The original recipe says the cake should be "beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan", but mine and other bloggers' didn't - so don't wait for that to happen, otherwise your cake will be over-baked and dry!

Massachussetts' State Dessert in all its glory!

BOSTON CREAM PIE  (for a 7" cake)

1 ½ eggs, at room temperature
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
85 g (3/8 cup) milk
7 g (1/2 tbsp) butter
85 g (3/4 cup) unbleached cake flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

PASTRY CREAM  (can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge)
170 g (3/4 cup) whole milk
25 g (1/8 cup) sugar
1 pinch salt
½ tsp vanilla extract (or 1/8 vanilla bean)
9 g (1 tbsp.) corn starch
¾ tsp all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
14 g (1 tbsp.) butter

57 g (1/4 cup) heavy or whipping cream
1 ½ tsp corn syrup
64 g (3/8 cup) chopped dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, stir together 1/2 + 1/8 cups of the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it at the end.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch, flour, and egg yolk with remaining 1/8 cup milk. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with egg yolk to temper them. Then pour egg/milk mixture back into remaining simmering milk. (Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps.) 

Whisk constantly until mixture thickens
Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in butter and vanilla extract (if using).

Grease piece of plastic wrap and place over pastry cream (so that it touches surface of cream to prevent skin from forming.) Refrigerate until cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 7" springform pan, line with parchment, and grease parchment.

Beat eggs and sugar until very thick, until batter falls from paddle in thick ribbons. Beat in vanilla.

Bring milk and butter to a simmer in small saucepan. Slowly stream it into egg/sugar mixture with engine running, and beat for another minute.

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over cake batter. Mix on low speed just until combined, about 1 minute.

Pour batter into cake pan, checking carefully for lumps of flour. (Remove any lumps.)

Bake cake for about 40 minutes, or until it's a deep golden brown (it's supposed to begin to pull away from sides of pan, mine didn't, so don't wait for it!)

Run a spatula or table knife around cake edges (if using a springform pan, remove rim,) and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack to cool completely.

Using a long serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into two equal layers. Fill with pastry cream, spreading it right to the edges. Replace the top layer.

Waiting for the chocolate glaze

Melt chocolate, corn syrup, and cream together until smooth and free of lumps. Add vanilla and stir well.

Pour glaze over filled cake.

(Store any leftovers in the fridge, wrapped in plastic.)

In the meantime, we have visited the Parker House Hotel in Boston, and, of course, ordered the famous dessert. The Boston Cream Pie tasted as good, as we had hoped, and this is what it looked like, en miniature, and a little spruced up:

Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston

Post updated 12/28/15


  1. OMG that must have been quite a collision seeing your wrecked car, glad you all came out in one piece with just bruises!
    Your cake looks just wonderful, everytime I see another of these pie/cakes I'm feeling more and more like baking another...

  2. Oops.. so glad you got out of that wreckage safe and sound. You deserve at least half of this cake. Looks great!

  3. Thanks, Lien and Karen!
    Yes, if it had not been for airbags and rigid passenger cell construction I don't think we would have survived the crash. My husband had a badly bruised leg, and he was asleep with the seat down (and not even buckled up!)
    Next time I make the cake I will brush the bottom with some liquor, as somebody suggested, that is a great idea.

  4. That looks like a terrible accident. I'm glad you both came out okay with just some bruises. Liquor for this cake sounds like a good idea. Maybe something orange-y!

    1. Thank you, Jenn.
      Yes, Cointreau or Grand Marnier seems a good option, even though it wasn't in the classic cake (but who cares as long as it tastes good). I just read in "Fine Cooking" that the original Parker House cake was flavored with rum.

  5. Oh that car!!! I'm so glad you are all right!!!! Beautiful cake! I used all of the sugar, and it came out quite browned for sure. Again, so happy you are all right!

    1. Thanks, Karen, though we are still a bit paranoid while driving my little Smart. Good that we were in the big car when it happened.

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  7. Oh meine Guete. Das sieht schrecklich aus! I'm glad you and hubby made it out of that one OK.
    Your cake looks great! I too thought the amount of sugar was way too high. I reduced it but could have reduced it more. It was very brown after only 30 minutes. I did a happy dance thinking it was done early but when I touched it, it felt soupy underneath :o)

    1. Danke, Hanaâ. From bread baking I'm so used to measuring the doneness with an instant thermometer, here it's trickier to gauge it.

  8. Looks delicious!

    So here I am, the lone eater in my house, and I made the full recipe! Okay, I did give some of it away -- about half, I guess. The rest I had no trouble polishing off on my own :) -- it kept better than I had expected it to!

    The Joy of Baking pastry cream recipe called for optional brandy or Grand Marnier. I had planned on using some, but when I tasted the cream with just the vanilla it was so good I decided to leave it.

    I agree that I think the cake was a bit sweet. My memory from many many years ago is that the cake part wasn't very sweet. Even as a child, I preferred it that way.

    1. Oh, now we we'll all assume you are a glutton, Paula!
      We had our last piece today, and I was astonished how well it kept. Next time I will add some other flavor, like Grand Marnier, to try that out. Or try the cute cupcake version.

  9. Poor car! Glad you are all ok! Great looking Boston Cream Pie!

  10. Oh my your car - but at least everyone is well. Your cake looks great! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  11. Yes, it looks quite scary, you wouldn't believe that we escaped almost unscathed.
    Thanks, Lara!

  12. So delighted to find your blog, what a gorgeous cake - it is in my list to bake, I hope soon! Many thanks stopping by at my blog, so glad you are baking simit, my favorite Turkish street food too : )

    Best wishes, Ozlem

    1. We have traveled to Istanbul (one of my most favorite cities) and North Cyprus, and loved the food. And in my hometown Hamburg you can get a lot of Turkish food, too. Unfortunately it's mostly unknown in the US.