Thursday, April 26, 2007
Boston Cream Pie
All too often, my baking is motivated by the need to use perishables that are nearing the end of their shelf life. The other day, I realized that I had a half-gallon of whole milk that was perilously close to meeting its maker. Although I've tried using up milk in homemade pudding, those efforts usually end up with me using more ingredients in a final product that is ditched because I can't eat it all before it goes bad and because pudding doesn't seem like the sort of thing I can easily shuttle around the office.
One standby for using up milk, though, is Boston cream pie. I've tried various recipes and really like Lora Brody's in Chocolate American Style. At the same time, I enjoy the recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, mostly because the King Art folks offer so many ways to tweak pastry cream. (Courtesy of the King Art folks, my favorite Boston cream pie variation to date is one with peanut-butter pastry cream.)
So it was to King Art that I turned, both for cake and for pastry cream. The pastry cream recipe in the Baker's Companion makes an insane amount of filling, way more than is even irrationally necessary in a Boston cream pie, unless you want the top of the cake to float away on an oozy puddle of filling. The pastry cream is nice, however, a pretty firm pudding lightened with a cup of whipped cream. I ended up using only half of it for this Boston cream pie -- which means that I have a Tupperware half-filled with lightened chocolate pastry cream at home.
After I made the cake, I remembered that I'd had a problem with this recipe. I've made it twice now, and both times, the cake has sunk in the middle. How did I manage to get a level top for the cake in the photo? I mounded the pastry cream in the middle, then very gently placed the top cake layer on the filling. It was a bit sloppy to slice and serve, but it tasted fine. I guess that's my typical happy ending for a baking tale that doesn't quite all add up.