It's not that Kurt doesn't think about mealtime, but he doesn't spend nearly as much time thinking about food as I do. He almost never asks what's for dinner or what's for dessert and very rarely makes any special requests. He says he trusts I have it covered, and it's true that I usually do. However, once in a while, especially when I've been on a light and healthy kick, he'll say something like "are we having Boston cream pie for dessert?" He loves it. I have made it a time or two, but since I'm always trying new recipes, it hadn't appeared on our table in years. So, when I was reading my review copy of Maida Heatter's Cakes and came upon her version of Boston cream pie, I had to give it a go. I mentioned previously how much I trust Maida's recipes, and she claimed this was the best version of Boston cream pie she's tried. Sold. She noted that she doesn't know why it's called a pie, and neither do I.
Two layers of sponge cake are filled with vanilla pastry cream, and the pastry cream is the first item to prepare so it can be chilled. This pastry cream was made in the usual way with eggs whisked in a bowl and set aside. Flour, salt, and sugar were combined in a saucepan, and milk was whisked into the mixture. That was brought to a boil over medium-low heat and stirred until thick. The hot milk mixture was slowly whisked into the eggs in the bowl, and then that was poured back into the saucepan where it was heated while stirring constantly. Once thickened, vanilla and almond extracts were added off the heat. The pastry cream was transferred to a bowl and left to cool with parchment paper pressed directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. The sponge cake was simple enough. Egg whites were whipped with some sugar until they held a soft shape, and egg yolks were mixed separately with sugar until very light in color. Vanilla, lemon juice, and some cold water were mixed with the yolks. The yolks were folded into the whites, then the dry ingredients including flour and baking powder were folded in as well. Last, melted butter was just barely folded into the batter. The batter was baked in a nine-inch round pan, and next time, I think I'll use an eight-inch pan because it spread out somewhat thin. Once the cake was baked and cooled, it was sliced in half and filled with the chilled pastry cream. The filled cake was topped with a simple chocolate ganache made with chopped semisweet chocolate and cream.
This was exactly what's expected from a Boston cream pie. The cake was tender and fluffy, the filling was rich and nicely vanilla-flavored, and the chocolate ganache was the perfect contrast on top. I don't know if it was the best Boston cream pie ever, but I'll probably eventually try several others for comparison's sake. Most importantly, Kurt was thrilled to open the refrigerator and see what was for dessert.