Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Oh Baby it's Never too Cold for Boston Cream Pie ~

IMG_3382Minus ten degrees.  It could be worse.  I could live in Boston.  I don't want to think about that.  I'd rather think about this:  Boston Cream Pie, a feel-good dessert that won the hearts of Americans over a century ago.  What got me thinking about this retro blast-from-my-past dessert?  It was another one of those "thirty-one days to Oscar" flicks I watched on my kitchen TV yesterday:  

Some Like it Hot (Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis & Marilyn Monroe)!

Masterpiece_some_like_it_hotIn this hilarious 1959 Billy Wilder movie Daphne (Jack Lemmon in drag) says,

"When I was a kid, I used to have a dream.  I was locked up in a pastry shop overnight and there was goodies all around.  There were jelly rolls, and mocha eclairs, and sponge cake, and, Boston cream pie"! ~Daphne

I adore Boston cream pie.  After I heard Jack say that line, I thought "why not,  I haven't made one of these cakes in a really long time".  It was a great reason (excuse) to preheat one of my ovens, I had all of the ingredients on-hand in my pantry and refrigerator, and, my own recipe (circa 1990's) in my recipe file!

Wait a minute -- this doesn't look anything like a pie!

IMG_3392A bit about the Boston cream pie:  

#1.  It's the national dessert of Massachusetts' (over the Toll House Cookie and the Fig Newton). That's some very famous company!

#2.  It's not a pie.  It is a cake:  two thin-ish layers of vanilla and/or rum-flavored, golden sponge-cake or butter-cake (your choice) with vanilla-flavored egg-laced pastry cream sandwiched between them, then top-glazed with soft, elegant, almost drizzly chocolate.  It is attributed to be the culinary creation of French chef Sanzian of Boston's Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House).  The Parker House was the first hotel in the city to boast hot-and-cold running water and an elevator.  This now signature-dessert has been served there since the hotel's opening in October, 1856. What made it so unique were two things:  the chocolate frosting and the custardy center.  During that time period, chocolate was consumed in American households in beverage or pudding form, and, pastry-creams were limited to use in "cream cakes" (aka cream puffs). The idea to incorporate the two into a cake recipe called "Chocolate Cream Pie" (later renamed Boston Cream Pie) became quite the rage.

IMG_3377It's a single layer of cake sliced horizontally to form two thinner layers.

E25af33350521123953b4650a80d9fd1So why is this cake called a pie?  It's thin (like a pie), it's soft (like a pie), and, it gets cut into wedges (like a pie). There's a bit more to it than that.  It seems that in early American New England and Pennsylvania Dutch country, cooks were known for baking crossover-cakes (my word) meaning:  sometimes it was hard to tell them apart.  The Pennsylvania Dutch Shoo-Fly pie is a prime example.  That was because pie tins were more common than cake pans.  More often than not, these cooks baked pies and cakes in pie tins.  It is said that the precursor to Boston Cream Pie was the early American "Pudding-Cake Pie".  This "pie" became so popular, it was turned into a boxed mix by Betty Crocker and sold sold nationally in 1958.  At age three, this boxed mix was my introduction to Boston Cream Pie!

I won't lie, this convenient mix containing three packets, one each for mixing the cake, custard and chocolate glaze kept me very happy for a lot of years.  Like a good brownie mix, I always kept a box in my pantry for emergency purposes.  Then, without explanation, they stopped making it -- poof -- it disappeared.  I hate it when that happens.  Fast forward to the year 2000.  I was  hosting a birthday party for two of my neighbors and girlfriends, Carol and Maryann, who celebrate their birthdays on February 10th and 14th.  For their new millennium birthdays, I decided to serve a retro lunch:  my own recipes for Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup, Waldorf Chicken Salad, and, Boston Cream Pie.  For their birthday gifts:  I gave them each a fondue pot!

Part One:  Making My Golden Butter-Rum & Vanilla Butter Cake

IMG_30642/3  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 2/3 cup)

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2  teaspoons butter-rum extract

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

3  cups cake flour

3  teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoon sea salt

no-stick cooking spray 

IMG_3067~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees if baking in dark or nonstick pans).  Spray 2, 8"-round straight-sided pans with no-stick spray and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  In a 1-cup measuring container, stir together the milk and extracts.  In a medium bowl, measure and stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

IMG_3092 IMG_3074~ Step 2. On medium-speed of mixer, beat butter, sugar and eggs until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat for 5 full minutes, scraping down sides of  bowl with a rubber spatula as you beat.  Mixture will be fluffy, smooth and pale yellow.

IMG_3106 IMG_3097~ Step 3. Reduce speed to low and begin adding flour mixture in 3 increments,  alternately with milk IMG_3103mixture, beating well after each addition. When all ingredients are in, increase speed to high and beat for 2 full minutes.

IMG_3172 IMG_3168~ Step 4. Transfer batter evenly between prepared pans.  If you have a kitchen scale, weigh each pan to make sure each pan weighs exactly the same -- this is what professionals do to make sure all layers bake uniformly.  Give each pan a couple of short gentle back-and-forth shakes across the countertop to smooth out the batter.

IMG_3194 IMG_3179~ Step 5. Bake both cake layers, at the same time, on center rack of preheated 350 (or 325) degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cakes will be golden and puffed through to their centers. Remove from oven and place pans on cooling rack for 6-8 minutes.

IMG_3210~ Step 6.  When you can comfortably keep the outstretched palm of your hand held over the top of the cake for 10-12 seconds:

IMG_3205One at a time invert each cake layer into the palm of your hand, gently remove the pan, and place the cake layer back on the rack to cook completely, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

IMG_3225Part Two:  Making My Butter-Rum & Vanilla Pastry Cream:

IMG_32381/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch (Note:  This is more cornstarch than I use for cream puffs and eclairs, but, this cake needs to be sliceable, so, the pastry cream needs to be denser.)

4  cups whole milk

2  teaspoons butter-rum extract

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8  large egg yolks

1 1/3  cups sugar

4  ounces unsalted butter, diced into 1/2" pieces, kept cold (1 stick)

Step 1.  Place 3 1/2 cups of the milk in a 4-quart saucepan on the stovetop.  In a 2-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the cornstarch, 1/2 cup of the milk and the extracts, until smooth.  Set aside.  Cube the butter and return the cubes to the refrigerator.

IMG_3258 IMG_3243~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, on medium speed of mixer, combine the egg yolks and sugar.  Increase speed to high and beat until light colored, about 2 minutes.  

IMG_3251Lower speed, add cornstarch mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.

IMG_3264 IMG_3268~ Step 3. Place the saucepan of milk over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until milk is steaming (not simmering or boiling), about 3 minutes.  Using a whisk,  in a gradual  steady stream, whisk in the egg yolk/sugar mixture.  

Continue to cook over medium- medium-high heat, whisking constantly (this mixture can scorch IMG_3274easily).  In the beginning, the mixture will be foamy on top.  As the mixture begins to thicken, within 3-4 minutes, switch from a whisk to a large spoon and add the cold butter pieces, 2-3-4 at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Repeat this process until all of the butter has been added and is thoroughly incorporated.

~ Step 4.  Continue to cook until the pastry cream is nicely-thickened, smooth and ribbonlike, about 2-3 more minutes.  There will be no more foam on the top.  Remove from heat and immediately transfer IMG_3303to an 8-cup measuring container to prevent further cooking.  Don't forget to take a taste -- it's unbelievably good!  

~ Step 5.  Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap, meaning: don't just cover the container, place the plastic directly on the surface of the pastry cream. This will prevent a rubbery skin from forming on top.  Cool 1-2 hours before refrigerating until well-chilled, several hours to overnight.

IMG_3313Part Three:  Choosing between Two Chocolate Toppings!  

#1.  My Easy-as-Pie Chocolate Glaze:

IMG_33164  tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4  ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (4 squares)

2  teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2  cups confectioners's sugar

2 tablespoons hot water, possibly a little more to bring glaze to desired consistency*

*Note:  Glaze will thicken a bit as it cools so keep that in mind.

IMG_3320~ Step 1.  In a 1-quart saucepan, melt the chocolate into butter, stirring frequently until mixture smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

IMG_3331 IMG_3329~ Step 2. Stir in the vanilla.  Add the sugar, in increments, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When all of the sugar is added the mixture will be a "kind of clumpy mess".  

IMG_3335~ Step 3. Add water, until desired consistency is reached. Cool to for 1-2 hours.

#2.  My Classic Chocolate Ganache (I chose to use this one today):

IMG_33511 1/2 cups of heavy or whipping cream,  heated in the microwave until steaming

2  teaspoons vanilla extract

16  ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels or small chunks of bittersweet chocolate

~ Step 1.  Stir the vanilla extract into the cream, and, in the microwave, heat until steaming.  Place the IMG_3353chocolate in a large bowl.

IMG_3355~ Step 2. Add the hot cream to the chocolate, give it a stir and cover for exactly two minutes.

~ Step 3.  Uncover and whisk vigorously until ganache is smooth and shiny.  Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then, cover and  refrigerate until desired consistency is reached.

IMG_3369 IMG_3363For my Boston Cream Pie, I don't want the ganache to be drizzly or pourable.  Why? Because it's my recipe and I prefer it to be spreadable like chocolate frosting. Thirty minutes in the refrigerator is all that it takes.  If it's in there a little too long, just let it sit out on the countertop for a few minutes -- it will soften up to a spreadable consistency again.

Still need instructions?

IMG_3898This recipe makes two whole 'pies'. Slice each cake layer in half lengthwise.  Spread 3-3 1/2 cups chilled pastry cream just to the edge of the perimeter of the bottom halves.  Frost the top halves in any manner you like, but the sides of a traditional Boston Cream Pie are always left open.  Lightly place the frosted top halves on top of the pastry cream halves. Refrigerate 'pies', uncovered, for several hours or overnight prior to slicing cold and serving cold or at room temperature (always slice cake while it's cold).  Tip from Mel:  Cake is easier to slice if you place a wooden skewer down through the center to keep the layers from slipping or sliding from side to side.  Cake is also easier to slice if you use a sharp straight-bladed knife, not s serrated knife.

Smile for the camera!

IMG_3388Oh Baby it's Never too Cold for Boston Cream Pie:  Recipe yields 2 cakes, 6-7 cups pastry cream, 1 1/2 cups chocolate glaze or 4 cups chocolate ganache, enough for 2, 8"-round Boston Cream Pies, 6-8 servings each.

Special Equipment List: 2, 8"-round, straight-sided cake pans; 1-cup measuring container; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; kitchen scale; cake tester or toothpick; cooling rack; fork; 4-quart saucepan; whisk; large spoon; 8-cup measuring container; plastic wrap; 2-cup measuring container; wooden skewer

6a0120a8551282970b0192abfea064970dCook's Note:  For another one of my favorite served-cold desserts you can find my recipe for ~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Pie ~ in Categories 6, 11, 15 or 22.  In this recipe, the ganache gets poured over the peanut butter pie filling (which is in a chocolate cookie crust) and the pie goes into the freezer to set up!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 


Marilyn -- because of your feedback (which I REALLY appreciate), I amended the recipe to included the oven temperature for dark or nonstick pans. Thanks again and enjoy your truffles!

Marilyn -- because of your feedback (which I REALLY appreciate), I amended the recipe to included the oven temperature for dark or nonstick pans. Thanks again and enjoy your truffles!

Good point about the pans and the oven temp!
I just saw the ganache post! Will do it!

Marilyn -- I am relieved to know that everything ended well and it tasted great. Next, time (if there is a next time), when baking in dark pans, always lower your oven temp 25 degrees -- to 325 degrees (just like they tell us on the back of the boxes of cake and brownie mixes). That should solve the problem. PS: Use the ganache to make truffles!!!

Mel! I figured out about adding the extracts, because the pic looked like just milk! I really notice your great photos! I used dark pans and sprayed them with "Pam". I cooled them in the pans closer to 9 min., maybe that was too long. Should not have made the pastry creme at the same time. It turned out fine and tasted great. No one noticed the cracks. The ganache was divine...and, I had extra! Wish I had something else to frost. I will tackle this again! Thanks!

Marilyn -- I am still trying to "digest this". First, let me say, ~ Step 2 of the pastry cream is (it was, I corrected that) a MINOR error, and, between ~ Step 1 and ~ Step 2, no matter where the extracts got added, as long as they got in there -- no problem. As for your cakes sticking -- I have NEVER, EVER had a problem and this recipe has been around for a long time. Question: Did you use the no-stick spray? Did you use dark-colored no-stick pans thinking you shouldn't use no-stick spray? Just curious. Lastly, the ganache gets refrigerated until desired consistency is reached, but that's neither here nor there. Why the cakes stuck to the pans -- THAT is what I want to figure out.

Mel- it was quite a feast yesterday! Had 12 guests for dinner. The weather was off and on rain, so I planned a sit down indoors. I made your chicken Oscar, lamb sliders, caprese salad, an orzo salad with roasted vegetables, a fruit salad with a honey lime dressing a toasted coconut. And the bean soup! That was a big hit. I had red, white, and blue mugs with flag stickers, and everyone grabbed a cup for the starter, along with a lot of G&T's! πŸ˜πŸ˜‰πŸ˜€
I haven't made that bean soup in 39 years! Yes, a staple in Tamaqua!
Now, on to the dessert. I made your Boston Creme Pie. It was my friend, Val's, 70th birthday. What until you hear this! I ended up not halving the recipe. Good thing!!!
I started the process about 2p.m. Sunday. I followed your instructions to a T! When it came time to remove the cakes from the pan, they stuck, just as I was in the process of making the pastry cream. I literally yelled for my husband to get in the kitchen and help me stir in the butter into the mixture, while I frantically tried to pry out the cakes!! The cream started to clump a bit and I was crazed trying to keep it smooth. It was like Lucy and Ethel (Fred) in my kitchen. Half of the cake came out of each pan! I gained my composure, covered the pastry creme, and got the slightly misshapen cakes onto the rack. On to the ganache! Long story short, as it was nearing 9:30' at night, while waititng for it to cool, and frost (spackle) the cake together, I watched "Cake" with Jennifer Anniston! It tasted great and no one knew what happened. Hubby left me for bed at 9. Could you clarify one step in the pastry creme method? It looks like you are asking to add the extracts twice, one with the milk, and then again with the yolks? Thanks for reading this. I'm writing this while waiting for my husband, who's having cataract surgery. I think he will be able to see better in the kitchen next time. Hope your weekend was a good one with David!

Marilyn -- I adore ham and bean soup served at a Summer picnic. It reminds me of growing up back in Tamaqua. It was always served at "clambakes" and BBQ's!

You know, I could freeze the other half for another time!!!
Happy Birthday to dear David!
I'm making all of your recipes for the holiday. Soaking beans right now for ham and bean soup!
Enjoy the celebration.

Marilyn -- of course you can! Have a wonderful holiday. I'm posting a Devil's food cake recipe later today. My grandson turns eight this weekend!

I would like to make this for Memorial Day, but 2 would be one more than I need.
Can I halve the recipe?


Thanks Teresa -- we finally cut into it at lunch time today (I added a picture of a slice to the post). I ran out of time before the Oscars. Truth be told, what looks like a "zippidy-do-da" recipe in reality takes time to get all three components at the proper temperature for assembly, and, after you do, the entire thing has to go into the refrigerator to chill thoroughly (or you'd never be able to cut it). There is no comparison between homemade and the boxed mix, it's obvious that homemade is far and above better, but, I gotta admit, I got a lotta fun EASY years out of that little box of Betty Crocker!!!

Mel, that's as purdy as all get out. I'm sure it would be delicious with either topping. I love the notion of the butter-rum flavor, and I certainly understand Daphne's dream.:)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment