Newbie Boston Cream Pie  

Okay. First, let me tell you that 1) I had never made Boston Cream Pie before this month, and 2) I have previously been a fairly unsuccessful maker of cakes. Second, when my husband asked for a Boston Cream Pie for his birthday, I had never had Boston Cream Pie, and was a little confused when I started looking for recipes and every recipe looked so different. I finally ended up cobbling something together that I thought sounded good, and it was delicious. Just know that this isn’t the definitively end-all in Boston Cream Pies, because I know nothing about them.

Cake: Williams-Sonoma Butter Cake

This was the cake they recommended for Boston Cream Pie, but it’s also a good one for people who are afraid that their made from scratch cake will be dry. A cake this full of butter can never be dry.

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups flour (it says cake flour, but I just used all-purpose and it was still good)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or microwaved slightly, if you are me)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature (or not, if you are me)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk, at room temperature (see above)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper and tap out the excess flour. (I laughed about this, but it actually worked really well. No broken cakes on my watch!)

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very light and pale yellow – 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for one minute. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour – for some reason they think flour should be first and last). Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert pans onto racks, peel off the parchment paper and let cool completely. (If the parchment won’t come off, they suggest brushing a little warm water on it with a pastry brush – should loosen right up.)

*I didn’t want to make a two layer cake, because we have had an insane number of sweets in our house lately and didn’t need it. I wrapped up one layer to freeze and split the other layer by working a piece of dental floss through the middle. That makes the next bit more delicate. *

Take a knife and cut out an indentation about half an inch from the edge and about half an inch deep (or 1/4 of an inch deep, if you’re doing the one layer). Spread the pudding in the indentation and place the other cake/half cake on top. (I recommend putting the cake where you want it to end up before doing this, which for me included putting a little parchment paper on the cake plate so I wouldn’t get goop all over it. I slid it out later.)

Pudding: Homemade Vanilla Pudding from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

2 2/3 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg

Bring 2 cups of milk to a boil (be careful – I had to do it twice because some milk burned to the bottom and I didn’t clean the pan before adding everything back in and then my pudding was full of brown milk scum, which is not appealing)

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the remaining 2/3 cup milk, a little at a time so lumps don’t form. Whisk in the egg. When the milk is boiling, pour it into the mixture very gradually, whisking the whole time. (This is to avoid cooking your egg. Whisk like crazy!)

Return the whole mix to the sauce pan (but if the sauce pan is full of milk scum, clean it off first. Trust me.) Stir constantly until it comes to a simmer, then for about a minute more. The pudding will get thick very suddenly and there will be big bubbles on the surface. If you do get little pieces of egg, you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer (but I don’t have one, so I stirred like my life depended on it.)

Chill the pudding for a couple of hours before stirring it up, spreading into the indentation in the cake and putting the cakes together.

Ganache (used in lieu of frosting): Adapted from Alton Brown’s Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cream or half and half (every recipe I’ve seen has called for cream, but the half-and-half was great)
1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch (I didn’t really measure)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the half-and-half and cornstarch to a boil (I recommend stirring occasionally during this process to avoid burning milk scum to the sides)
Add the chocolate and stir like crazy until it melts. (Some recipes just call for pouring the milk over the chocolate. I’ve done this successfully, but with Alton’s blessing I melted it in the pan this time – and pulled it off as quick as I could to avoid burning. Just be careful or you’ll end up with tragic burned chocolate.)

Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stirring to combine. Spread over the cake while it’s still very warm. Remove the parchment paper. After cooling, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sparkler candles really class this thing up.

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