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Boston Cream Pie
By Jim Bailey, a.ka. "The Yankee Chef"

I am sitting here, late at night, just thinking if there is one item or recipe that
embraces New England cuisine completely.

Would it be maple syrup? Chowder? Pumpkin? Cranberries?

The answer is probably all the above, and, as I reference in my book, it is the
way we prepare our ingredients that separates us from the rest of the country.
We, as Yankee's, know how to turn our apples into the best Apple Cider Pie
and our cranberries into decadent Cranberry Orange Coffee cake.

But there is one dessert that has been part of our heritage for over a century
and a half. That would be the
Boston Cream Pie.

Although I believe Chef Sazian, of the Parker House in Boston, got his
inspiration for this "pie" from a
New York column the same year (1856) that he
introduced this "pie" at the Omni Parker House, it is still a beloved pie to us
New Englanders.

Now for those of  you who just don't have the time to take the necessary steps
to prepare this delightful recipe, using a yellow sponge cake recipe, prepared
vanilla pudding and chocolate fudge heated in the microwave suffices for the
most part.

But why not take a little time and make it from scratch ... even if its just once in
your life ... so you can enjoy the taste of
real Boston Cream Pie.

* * *

Notice I don't use salt in the recipe. It does absolutely NOTHING for this
recipe so why add the extra salt? But I will give you one great hint. Want just a
little more New England flavor? Add some thawed, chopped frozen
cranberries to the cake batter. Seeing cranberries studding the inside of that
yellow sponge cake is not only gorgeous to look at, but gives it a tangy bite
that sits well with the buttery, sweet flavors you are about to enjoy.

2 c. sifted cake flour*
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 t.  vanilla extract or 1 T. imitation
3 eggs
3/4 c. light cream or half-and-half
1  recipe Vanilla Bean Pudding, recipe below
Chocolate Glaze, recipe below

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with
parchment paper or generously spray with nonstick cooking spray and lightly
flour, tapping off excess that doesn't stick to pan.

Beat the butter and sugar together at medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in
the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla extract. Stir the cake flour and
baking powder together using a whisk. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat
the flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture, adding it in thirds and
alternating with the cream. Beat until the batter is smooth.

Transfer to the prepared pan and bake on the center shelf of the oven until the
cake tests clean when a skewer is inserted into the center, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

To assemble, split the un-molded cake using a long serrated knife. Spread
Vanilla Bean Pudding (see recipe, below) over the bottom half of the cake and
place the top layer over the pudding.

Pour Chocolate Glaze (see recipe, below) over the cake, allowing it to drip
down the sides of the cake.

*NOTE: You don't very often see The Yankee Chef use cake flour, but in a
delicate cake such as Boston Cream Pie and Angel Food Cake, I prefer it and let
me tell you why. If you were to substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour,
the result will be a little off because not all flours are created equal. All
different types of flours have different protein, or gluten, contents and weights,
resulting in various results. All purpose flour has roughly 11 % protein content
while cake flour has between 6-8 %. Many recipes need that low protein
content to remain tender and light, such as our recipe here. Other recipes,
however, can stand up to the difference and accept the substitution reliably,
such as most cakes and breads. Keep in mind that all-purpose flour is strong.
If you need to substitute all-purpose instead of cake flour, take out 2 T. per cup
of all-purpose if you don't have any cornstarch at home. If you do, I highly
recommend replacing the deleted 2 T. with 2 T. cornstarch. Why? Because
cornstarch is gluten free, thusly ending up diluting the gluten content while
replacing the original amount of flour taken out.

Vanilla Bean Pudding

Or if you are in a higher tax bracket than I am, you can call it "Creme Patisserie."

3/4 c. milk
1 c. light cream
1  vanilla bean
3  egg yolks
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. butter or margarine

Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into a pot that contains the milk and cream.
Add the scraped bean as well and simmer over medium heat until scalding,
whisking almost constantly. Whisk the eggs, cornstarch, sugar, and salt
together in a separate bowl. Slowly ladle a cup of the hot milk into the egg
mixture and whisk well. Slowly add back this bowl of egg/hot cream mixture
back into the pot and continue whisking over medium heat until it thickens
and just begins to boil. (This is called tempering.)  Immediately transfer to a
bowl and remove and discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the vanilla extract and
butter. Let cool, whisk again before filling the cake.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 c. heavy cream
7 oz. chopped dark chocolate**
1 T. butter or margarine
3 T. maple syrup corn syrup

Heat the cream to a boil over medium heat, whisking almost constantly. The
second it starts to come to a boil, pour into a sturdy bowl and add the
chocolate, butter and maple syrup. Whisk and let cool to tepid and thickened.
Whisk again before glazing.

To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Remove the
top half. Pour and evenly spread the pudding over the bottom half. Replace
the top half and slowly, and evenly, pour your glaze over the top of the cake,
letting it drip over the sides. Let cool and serve.

Double the cake ingredients if you want a "Towering Boston Cream Pie." Just
add the vanilla in the middle of both layers. You won't have to double the
pudding or glaze.

**This could even be a chocolate candy bar if need be.

About the author: Jim Bailey is
The Yankee Chef™. Bailey is a third generation chef, a
New England food historian and food columnist. His first in a series of cookbooks is due
out in January of 2013, titled The Yankee Chef. He would love to hear from anyone about
their old family recipes. Email Jim Bailey any questions or comments:
The Heart of New England
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