Boston Cream Pie (for my Dad)
8 to 10 servings
A typical Boston Cream Pie consists of two spongecake layers
(or one thicker layer, split in half), sandwiched with a vanilla
pastry cream or pudding, and a chocolate glaze. There's nothing
fancy or chic about it, and it is a "comfort food"
for me, because my mom made it when I was a child. It has always
been a favorite dessert of my father's. This is a slightly more
grown-up version; the spongecake is replaced by two thin layers
of orange chiffon cake, and the layers are sprinkled with a
bit of orange liqueur (which can, of course, be omitted if you
wish). I tried sandwiching the layers with a chocolate pastry
cream, but it overwhelmed the fresh citrus flavor of the cake
(some things just can't be improved upon).
the pastry cream first, as it must be well-chilled before you
use it. The layers go together quickly, have a short baking
time, and don't take long to cool. I think this is at its best
between about two and twenty-four hours after assembly. The
flavors need a little time to blend, but this dessert isn't
a long keeper, either, and it will not freeze well. It can also
be a bit on the messy side, but is nonetheless delicious. Happy
Father's Day, Dad.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Few grains salt
3 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
1 cup whole milk, divided
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small bits
2 tsp. vanilla
1-2/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
4 eggs, graded "large", separated and at room
1/2 cup orange juice (if freshly-squeezed, strain before
1/3 cup corn oil (or other tasteless vegetable oil)
Grated zest of 1 large orange
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Few grains salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp. Triple Sec or other orange liqueur, divided
Pastry Cream: Have ready a fine-mesh strainer, a heatproof
liquid measuring cup or small pitcher of 2-cup capacity, and
a pot holder. Set the potholder on the kitchen counter near
the stovetop. Place the liquid measuring cup on the pot holder,
then place the strainer into the measuring cup. Have ready a
piece of plastic wrap pierced with a knifetip in at least 6
to 8 places.
small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine sugar, flour, and salt. With
small whisk, whisk well to blend thoroughly. Set aside near
egg yolks in small bowl. Measure out 1 Tbsp. milk (reserve remainder)
and add it to the yolks. With fork, beat to blend well. Set
aside near stovetop.
off the heat, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. of the remaining milk (reserve
remainder) to the sugar-flour mixture. Whisk in well to form
a thick, smooth paste. In another small saucepan over low heat,
heat remaining milk until very hot, stirring occasionally. Remove
from heat; gradually add to sugar-flour paste, whisking in each
addition before adding the next. When all hot milk has been
added, scrape pot bottom and sides with rubber spatula.
saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently but constantly until
mixture comes to a boil. Lower heat; simmer milk mixture for
three full minutes, whisking constantly to prevent lumping.
Remove from heat. Mixture will probably be slightly lumpy despite
your best efforts--OK.
yolks constantly with fork, very gradually add about half of
hot mixture to them. Gradually return heated egg mixture to
saucepan, stirring constantly with whisk. Scrape pot bottom
and sides with rubber scraper. Set pot over low heat; stir constantly
with whisk for about 2 minutes (this mixture should be steaming
hot, but do not let it boil or it will curdle). Remove from
heat. Immediately add butter bits. Allow to stand for a minute
or two, then stir gently until butter melts and is incorporated.
Stir in vanilla.
pastry cream through strainer into measuring cup. To prevent
formation of a "skin" on top, immediately place pierced
piece of plastic wrap right down on surface of pastry cream.
Cool briefly, then chill at least 4 hours, until needed.
Orange Chiffon Layers: Cut wax paper or baking parchment rounds
to fit the bottoms of two 9-inch round layer pans (the pans
may be 1-1/2 inches deep or deeper). Place one round in the
bottom of each pan; do not grease the pans. Set aside. Adjust
rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
medium bowl, sift together cake flour, 1/3 cup sugar (reserve
remainder), baking powder, and salt. With large whisk, blend
well. Add egg yolks, orange juice, oil, zest, and vanilla. With
whisk, beat until well-mixed and smooth, scraping bottom and
sides of bowl as necessary to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
large, grease-free, non-plastic bowl, combine egg whites and
cream of tartar. With sturdy hand-held electric mixer, beat
at high speed until white, foamy, and increased in volume. Gradually
add remaining 2/3 cup sugar in about 8 additions, beating after
each addition until incorporated before adding the next. After
all sugar has been added, continue beating to just before stiff
a large spoonful of the beaten whites to the egg yolk mixture;
whisk in to lighten. Add another large spoonful of the beaten
whites to this mixture, and fold it in (not too thoroughly).
about three additions, add the lightened egg yolk mixture to
the remaining beaten whites. Do not be too thorough folding
in the first couple of additions; fold in the last addition
only until the two mixtures are combined and the batter is an
even color. The batter will be pale and very light in texture.
batter evenly among prepared pans. If necessary, spread gently
with back of spoon to level in pans. Bake in preheated oven
17 to 21 minutes, switching positions of pans on rack about
halfway through baking time. When done, a toothpick inserted
into center of a layer will emerge with a moist crumb or two
still clinging to it; layers will have browned slightly on top
and be a slightly darker color on edges. The layers will not
pull away from the edges of the pans during baking. Do not overbake.
Remove to cooling racks.
to stand on cooling racks 3 to 4 minutes. During this time,
layers may pull away from sides of pans slightly. Loosen layers
gently from pan sides; invert onto other cooling racks. Gently
peel wax paper from layer bottoms, then re-invert each layer
to cool right side up. Note: it is helpful to have nonstick
cooling racks for these layers. If you do not, you can spray
racks lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Allow layers to cool
completely before using (that is usually a maximum of 45 minutes
for me, although I suspend the cooling racks on baking pans
so they'll be higher off my table).
layers are still slightly warm, start the Glaze: In small heatproof
bowl, combine chopped chocolate and salt. In small saucepan
over low heat, heat cream until very hot, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; pour about half of hot cream over chocolate.
Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently
until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining cream. Set aside to
cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
layers have cooled completely, assemble dessert. Choose a serving
plate with shallow sides; it should have a flat bottom that
is 9 to 10 inches in diameter. If the cooled layers are not
flat, use a large, sharp, serrated knife to level them (my layers
flatten themselves during cooling). Invert the first layer onto
the serving plate and leave it upside down. With a teaspoon,
gradually drizzle the flat top of the layer with 2 Tbsp. of
the orange liqueur.
chilled pastry cream from refrigerator. Do not stir. By large
spoonfuls, place all of the pastry cream in a small circle on
top of the first layer. With back of spoon, gently spread pastry
cream to within about 1/2 inch of all edges; the circle of pastry
cream should be thickest in the center and thinner toward the
edges. Again with a teaspoon, drizzle the remaining liqueur
all over the top of the remaining layer. Place this layer, right
side up, on top of the pastry cream. If necessary, press down
gently on the top layer until the pastry cream has spread almost
to the edges of the layers.
the glaze. If it has cooled to room temperature (chek a bit
on the inside of your wrist), use it now. Otherwise, refrigerate
the pie until the glaze is ready. When cooled, a bit of the
glaze dropped from a spoon should mound slightly.
pie from refrigerator; if any pastry cream has leaked out from
between the layers, scrape it off. Slowly pour glaze onto center
of top layer; the chilled pie will start to set it quickly.
Spread glaze, preferably with a small offset spatula, just to
top edges. A bit may drip down over the edges; that's fine.
Chill the Boston Cream Pie until serving, at least 2 hours.
When glaze has set, cover (preferably with a cake safe, so you
don't squash this delicate dessert). Serve within 24 hours.
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