Monday, June 01, 2009

Jane's comfort food #2: Boston Cream Pie

It's not a pie, it's a cake, I don't know why it has this name. It was my grandfather's favorite cake; until this week I hadn't made it since he died in 1981. It's kind of a pain because it uses a lot of bowls, but it's old-fashioned and delicious.

Boston Cream Pie

The cake:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.

Beat butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Blend in half the milk and half the flour, then the other half.

Spread in pan (it's a stiffer batter than many cakes). Bake half an hour (don't overcook!). Turn it out of the pan onto a rack and let it cool. Meanwhile...

The custard:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1+ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Combine cornstarch, salt, and sugar in your saucepan. Break up any clumps so it's smooth. Add a tiny bit of the milk to make a stiff paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring, till it's well mixed.

NOW turn on the heat, low. Stir the milk/cornstarch mixture constantly (I read a book while I'm doing it, because it's boring work).

Take a moment off from stirring to beat the eggs and vanilla in a little bowl. When the cornstarch mixture is mostly thickened, add the egg mixture and stir devotedly.

Cook it until it bubbles a few times, add the butter in little chunks and stir it in until it's melted. Turn off the heat and let the custard cool. It will be quite stiff, that's ok. It has a skin, but you can stir the skin into the mixture.

When the cake and custard are both cool (be patient), use a long thin serrated knife and cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread the custard on the bottom half, put the top half back on. Then make the glaze (below) and spread it over the top until some of it drips over the sides.

You should refrigerate the cake if you're not eating it immediately, but it stiffens in the refrigerator, so take it out of the fridge an hour or two before eating.

The glaze:
1 cup semisweet chocolate (can be chips or chunks, no matter)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Put it in the microwave and zap for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until all melted together. Stir till shiny and spread on cake.

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