When did you first try a Boston Cream Pie? I remember buying one from the bakery to serve at a small dinner party when I was barely on my own. It was good and became one of my favorite desserts to pick up at the market.
Turns out, my rendition of a Boston Cream Pie is really a variation on the original served at Parker House in Boston and not the real deal. Theirs is kissed with rum, coated with toasted almonds and topped with a Chocolate Fondant. While I like the idea of rum and the toasted almond slivers, I have yet to meet a Fondant that I liked. Although their cake does look pretty, don’t you agree?
So why is a dessert that is obviously a cake called a pie? There are volumes of conflicting tales as to the why, but what it really boils down to are that round cakes and round pies were once baked in the same round pan. Cakes that included a cream or custard filling were often called a cream pie, although I haven’t a clue as to why. While there is still dispute as to who came up with the recipe first, Parker House in Boston placed it on their dessert selection in 1881, praising it as their signature dessert. A direct descendant of earlier cakes known as American pudding-cake pie and Washington pie, the dessert was referred to as Chocolate Cream Pie, Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie, and finally Boston Cream Pie.
So here’s to National Boston Cream Pie Day. Any way you slice it, this is one delicious American Dessert.
Boston Cream Pie
2 Egg Yolks
1-1/2 cups Milk
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Separate egg yolks from whites, reserve whites for another purpose. Place yolks in a small bowl.
Beat the egg yolks with a fork or wire whisk until mixed. Stir in milk; set aside.
In a 2-quart saucepan, stir sugar, the cornstarch and a pinch of salt until mixed. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract.
Press plastic wrap on surface of filling to prevent a skin layer from forming on top. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until set but no longer than 24 hours. While filling is chilling, make cake.
1-1/2 cups Cake Flour
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Milk
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 large Egg
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray just the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour or grease and flour the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, beat all cake ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, stopping frequently to scrape batter from side and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape bowl. Pour batter into the pan; use a rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl, spread batter evenly in pan and smooth top of batter.
Bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a cooling rack 20 minutes, then remove onto cooling rack to finish cooling completely, about 1 hour.
While the cake cools, make chocolate icing.
3 tablespoons Butter
3 oz unsweetened Baking Chocolate
3 to 4 tablespoons Hot Water
1 cup Powdered Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
In a 1-quart saucepan, melt butter and the chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in 1-cup glass measuring cup, microwave the water uncovered on High 15 to 30 seconds or until hot.
Remove chocolate mixture from heat. Sift in the powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Stir in 3 tablespoons hot water. Stir in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is smooth and thin enough to spread.
When ready to assemble and glaze, first split the cooled cake in half horizontally. Mark middle points around side of cake with toothpicks. Using toothpicks as a guide, cut through the cake with a long, sharp knife, using a back-and-forth motion.
On a serving plate, place bottom layer with the cut side up. Spread filling over bottom layer. Top with top of cake, cut side down.
Spread glaze over top of cake, using a metal spatula or back of a spoon, letting some glaze drizzle down side of cake. Refrigerate uncovered until serving. Store any remaining cake covered in the refrigerator.