Monday, July 18, 2011

VANILLA BEAN BOSTON CREAM PIE

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The official Massachusetts state dessert is really a cake, not a pie, and said to have originated with The Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House Hotel) at their opening in 1856.  Two layers of sponge cake are filled with thick vanilla custard and topped with a chocolate glaze or a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.   This cake was probably called a pie because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans, and the cake was at first baked in pie tins.   Boston Cream Pie is a remake of the early American "Pudding-Cake Pie."

In a previous life in New Jersey, when raising my two boys, I often made Boston Cream Pie.  It was a favorite in our household.  Since it’s been several years since I’ve made one, I decided to treat the hub and three other fathers for Father’s Day with this universally popular dessert.

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You can definitely use a yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding mix if you want shortcuts, and you can even spread the top with canned chocolate frosting.  But it just won’t taste anywhere near as good as a homemade version.  Hot-milk spongecake is easy to make and provides a moist, tender base for Boston Cream Pie.  Homemade vanilla custard, flavored with a vanilla bean, is also simple to make and unmatched for flavor and texture.  Chocolate ganache makes a perfect topping, but, true confession, I did take a shortcut.  I had leftover homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, and I heated it and added some chopped Callebaut bittersweet chocolate.  It was just enough to frost the top and sides of the cake. 
I’ve vowed to not wait so long before I make another Boston Cream Pie.  It’s just sooooo good.

Vanilla Bean Boston Cream Pie
Source:  McCall’s Book of Cakes and Pies, 1965
Rating:  9 out of 10
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Rich Vanilla Cream Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Big pinch salt
1 cup fat-free half and half (Land o’ Lakes, only)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean*, seeds scraped (I used a Tonga bean, which is larger and stronger in flavor)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

In 1-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk over medium-high heat.  Bring to boil, while whisking.  Continue to whisk till mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.  Stir in scraped vanilla bean seeds and butter.  Cool completely.
*If desired, you may substitute 1-1/2 tsp. high-quality pure vanilla extract.

Hot-Milk Spongecake:
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs (2/3 cup)
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, or 1-1/2 tsp. high-quality pure vanilla extract

In small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles form around edge of pan.  Remove from heat; set aside.  Heat oven to 350F.  Sift flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.  Set out two greased and floured 8” cake pans.  Line pans with parchment paper circles cut to fit.

In small bowl of electric mixer, at high speed, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored.  Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is smooth and well blended – about 5 minutes.  At low speed, blend in flour mixture just until smooth.  Add warm milk and vanilla bean seeds, beating just until combined.  Pour batter immediately into pans.  Bake 17-18 minutes, or till cake tester inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool cake in pans 10 minutes.  Run knife around edges and remove cake from pans; cool thoroughly on wire racks lined with paper towels.  (Paper towels will keep the cakes from sticking to the rack but will still allow the air to come through.) 

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When cake and filling are both completely cool, spoon filling onto one layer and top with second layer.  Pour warm chocolate ganache over top, letting it drip down sides. Smooth top and sides with a spatula, if desired.   Refrigerate till serving time.  Yield:  8 servings

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4 comments:

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Being from Massachusetts it's also a family favorite in our home! Your's looks delicious! Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

Debbie said...

This really looks delicious Judy and everyone in my house is a fan of this cake. I need to make one from scratch already!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

This looks really good, I have never tasted it before so will give it a try. Diane

teresa said...

so yummy! i love boston cream pie.