Boston Cream Pie

Happy Father’s Day! This week, in honor of the man who has somehow managed to put up with me for the past twenty-five years, I decided to make my dad’s favorite: Boston Cream Pie. I remember my mother making this on several occasions for my dad, whether it be the classic recipe or one made with chocolate cake instead. Once I got older, there were a few times she helped me make a Boston Cream pie of my own for dad’s birthday or Father’s day.

I was so excited about making this cake, because for the first time ever I managed not to burn or ruin the pastry cream that fills the middle. But then I was a bit let down by how terribly it photographed. There’s something about shiny chocolate ganache that (while it is absolutely DELICIOUS) just doesn’t photograph well. Eventually I’ll figure it out, but until then you all will have to deal with my not-so-pretty ganache shots.

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, but with a few minor adaptations. The cake is wonderfully dense and moist, and I’m told the cream in the middle is delicious (I don’t care for pastry cream or custards, so I’m going off the general opinion here). The key is to not overbeat the mixture – my batter had tons of little bubbles in it when I put it into the oven. However, Martha uses a 2-inch deep pan and cuts the cake in half. I used two 9-inch round tins instead to make it a bit more foolproof in case the cake didn’t rise a full 2 inches.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 Tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 3/4 whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the pastry cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
For the chocolate ganache:
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 7 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Grease your cake tins with butter then line the bottom with baking paper. Grease the baking paper, then coat the entire pan with sugar. Tap out the excess sugar and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside. In your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and egg yolks on medium speed for about 1 minute. Gradually add in the sugar and continue to whisk until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes.

3. Gently heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to let the milk boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. With the mixer continually running, slowly pour in the milk mixture into the egg mixture.

4. Add the flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Once everything is mixed together, transfer into your prepared pans, being sure to keep the batter as even as possible.

5. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the cake is a light golden color. Halfway through the baking time, it would also be a good idea to rotate the pans so that everything is baking evenly. Once the cake is done, cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes should be a bit sticky on the sides and bottom from the sugar coating on the pan.

6. While the cakes are cooling, prep the pastry cream (this is the tricky part!): bring the milk and 1/4 sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar together, followed by the vanilla and salt. Whisk in the cornstarch, 1 Tablespoon at a time. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour 1 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture.  Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the mixture back into the remaining milk mixture in your saucepan. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 4-5 minutes).

7. Transfer the pastry cream to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the plastic onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 3 hours.

8. Once the pastry cream has chilled, and the cakes are completely cool, it’s time to assemble. Place your bottom tier, bottom-side up, onto your cake board. Coat with a generously thick layer of your pastry cream, followed by the other cake layer, also bottom-side up.

9. To make your chocolate ganache, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Place the chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl, then pour the heated cream over it. Stir until the chocolate completely melts, then let cool for a few minutes before pouring over the cake. To make a runnier ganache (like mine), just use a bit more cream. Otherwise, you’ll need to use a spatula to spread the ganache a bit.

10. Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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