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Boston Cream Pie
It's no surprise to most of us that the Boston Cream Pie is a misnomer since this popular dessert is not really a pie but a cake. My guess is that this old-fashioned cake is more than likely the invention of someone (obviously from Boston), who wanted to replace the pie crust as the standard foundation for a creamy filling, and baked a cake batter in a pie pan.
The cake used in a Boston Cream Pie can be a buttery one but traditionally it is a sponge cake -- a hot milk sponge cake to be precise. While most sponge cakes are light and somewhat dry, a sponge cake made with milk, has a softer more tender texture.
After baking a milk sponge cake several ways -- sometimes heating the milk, other times not, I've concluded that the milk's temperature does not affect the sponge cake's taste or texture at all. So for convenience, my sponge cake recipe calls for unheated milk.
The Boston Ice Cream Roll is a contemporary variation on the theme. When you crave the flavors of a Boston Cream Pie but time is short, it's an ideal dessert: Its thin flexible cake layer bakes quickly, its filling is store-bought and it must remain frozen until serving.
Boston Cream Pie
Treat yourself to a layer of fluffy, rum-laced custard sandwiched between a moist, light spongecake that is topped with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. If desired, serve with chocolate sauce.
TIP: Eggs contribute to the airiness of this sponge cake. Therefore, it's essential that the eggs be room temperature in order to whip to their best volume.
Milk Sponge Cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons unflavored vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar for decoration
Adjust rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment or waxed paper; do not grease. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl add the the milk and oil; do not be concerned that they do not blend together.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, yolk and sugar to combine. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, whip the egg mixture until it is light ivory in color and very fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add the vanilla toward the end of whipping. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture in two additions. Pour the milk mixture down the side of the mixing bowl. (It will sink to the bottom of the bowl under the batter.) Gently fold until the milk mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake is golden on top and it springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Remove pan from oven to a wire rack until cool.
Boston Cream Filling
Only half of this rich, thick pastry cream, lightened with whipped cream is needed for the dessert. Enjoy the remaining filling with fresh fruit.
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon each dark rum and vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
In a small bowl whisk to combine the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar, then the flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and 1/4 cup sugar and heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove, and pour half of the hot liquid over the yolk mixutre, stirring to combine. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan, and bring it to a boil again, stirring constantly. When it is thick and smooth, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a large bowl to cool. Cover surface with plastic and refrigerate. When ready to assemble the dessert, stir in the rum and vanilla until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream.
This is the creamiest chocolate sauce you'll ever taste -- and there's no cream in the recipe.
1/2 cup each water and light corn syrup
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the water and corn syrup just to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir constantly until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth and glossy. For best results, reheat in a double boiler.
To assemble the dessert, split the cake into two layers. Spread half the filling evenly over the bottom cake layer. Center the other layer on top. Place the cake on a serving plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Before serving, sprinkle top of cake with powdered sugar. Spoon warm chocolate sauce onto individual plates. Using a serrated knife, slice dessert into "pie-shaped" wedges and center each portion on the sauce.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.