Spring Has Sprung, The Grass Has Ris…
...I wonder how this pie is. To answer your question, pretty flipping awesome.
Did you miss me?
It won't happen again. I promise. I've been doing quite a bit of spring cleaning. Doesn't it feel satisfying to clean? No? Just me? You don't get a certain rush out of scrubbing something so shiny you can see your reflection in it? Or mopping the floor so clean you could eat off it? Or maybe vacuuming every square inch of the floor? Or organizing all 76 fridge magnets into uniform size descending lines? Well I do. And seriously, 76. I counted them.
I'm not sure who decided spring was the appropriate season to clean your head off, but it seems to make sense. Maybe it's something about opening up all the windows and pushing back the curtains that makes you see every last speck of dust and disorganization that somehow alluded your discerning eyes all winter. Maybe it's because spring is the season where everything begins again, grows and transforms, so why not mirror that on the inside right?
I have all these gardening plans this summer that I am so excited about. I've begun planting herbs in peat moss pots inside to transplant into my very own soon-to-be-built herb garden. That way I can make fresh pesto with my own basil and cut chives into sour cream like my mom always did. More often than not when I want to make pesto the supermarket is all out of the fresh kind so I actually buy the diced up stuff sold in a tube. I won't complain about the convenience, but I don't mind dicing it myself when I can be sure it's fresh instead of feeling like I'm squeezing toothpaste into my garlic, parmesan and pine nuts.
Enough about me. I know you're really just waiting for me to shut up so you can hear about that amazing Boston Cream Pie. It's my way of saying sorry for the abnormally long blogging intermission. Now back to our regular scheduled programming.
Boston Cream Pie
Source: Adapted from a family recipe.
6 egg yolks 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1/3 cup flour 3 cup whole milk 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp water 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 cup cake flour (or substitute) 5 egg whites 1/4 tsp cream of tartar 1/2 cup granulated sugar Chocolate Ganache:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup whipping cream 1 tsp unsalted butter
Almonds, sliced and toasted for garnish 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 tsp milk
To Make the Custard:
Make the custard first because it takes a while to reach room temperature and you can make the rest while you wait.
In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water on medium heat whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt and flour.
Meanwhile bring a pot of the milk up on medium high heat. You have to scald the milk which means you have to let it come up to temperature slowly while stirring occasionally until steam rises and it foams slightly on the edges. Don't let it come to a rolling boil. As soon as you see the steam and the foam take the pot off the heat and pour it gradually and slowly over the custard making sure to stir between additions to get all the custard lumps out.
Now the fun part. I was determined this time so I had the patience to stand there and stir the custard frequently for an hour until it thickened enough. It might take less or more time depending on factors like the freshness of the eggs, the fat content in the milk, the heat of the double boiler, etc. It will thicken very slowly and it's important to keep stirring it, if not constantly then at least very often, to make sure a skin doesn't form and it cooks evenly. You should do this until the milk foam is incorporated, it gets to the consistency of thick pudding and you can see the whisk leave marks on the surface that don't spread out. If you go very far past this point your custard could start to boil then become lumpy, grainy and overcooked.
Once you're satisfied with the thickness take the bowl off the heat, add the vanilla and cover it with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard so a skin doesn't form. Then leave it out on the counter to cool to room temperature. It will thicken slightly while it cools but it does not set. You may store it in the refrigerator once it's reached room temperature.
To Make the Sponge Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set them aside.
In a medium bowl with an electric mixer blend the water, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar until it gets light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix it until it's smooth.
In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping it until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until it's combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and smooth out the tops. Bake them for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops get golden brown and are springy to the touch. Let them cool on cooling racks then pop them out. You might need to run a small knife along the edges to help the process along.
To Make the Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and whipping cream on medium heat. Bring it to just a boil and then immediately transfer the mixture to the chocolate bowl. Let it sit for five minutes then stir it with a whisk until the chocolate melts smoothly. Leave the chocolate out on the counter since you'll be using it soon.
Assembling the Cake:
With a cake leveller or a long serrated knife cut each sponge cake into two even layers. Place the bottom layer on your serving plate then liberally spread custard on top. Repeat this with the next three layers leaving the top clean. Then spread a thick layer of custard on the outside edge of the cake like frosting. Pat the toasted almonds onto the custard on the sides, again leaving the top clean.
Mix together the powdered sugar and milk making sure that it's the same consistency of the ganache, adding more milk or sugar as needed. Spoon it into a small resealable sandwich bag and snip of a small piece of one corner. Spread the ganache evenly over the top of the cake and smooth it out. Next make a spiral with the icing and run a knife repeatedly from the middle to the edge to form a spiderweb pattern. Refrigerate the cake to set the ganache. Enjoy!