WHAT'S BLACK AND WHITE AND OH SO SWEET?
A gorgeous Boston Terrier, or
an incredible Boston Cream Pie.
Boston has truly outdone herself in concocting these two beauties! Whether or not the dog or the cake truly originated in Boston matters not a whit, this New England city should be proud of herself for linking her name forevermore with these two sweet, delightful, heavenly creations.
I don’t know which I’m crazier about, my Boston Terrier Marty or Boston Cream Pie. Okay, I have always loved Boston Cream Pie and if it’s on the menu I’ll order it. It makes me swoon! I always choose the Boston Cream Pie-style donuts at the donut shop when I’m home; just think! A cake in donut form!. Soft yellow cake sandwiching luscious, thick vanilla-scented pastry cream and slathered in a rich, dark chocolate frosting. What is dreamier? And please don’t try and stir up conversation or point out the sites while I am savoring a slice of Boston Cream Pie, for you will be sorely disappointed in my lack of interest. All my attention, every sense, every ounce of strength and emotion will be focused on that magical, scrumptious, gooey delicacy.
And my Marty, Boston Terrier Supreme! I remember the day JP brought him home from the breeder’s tucked into his jacket. Poor baby face peeping out, little head the size of a silver dollar, excited and scared all at the same time, a black and white bundle of joy. And I will never forget the day the trainer came to the apartment and instructed us never to allow Marty up on our laps, no matter how cute, tiny and snuggly he was. “He may only weigh 3 kilos, but he thinks he weighs 80! He thinks he is bigger than any of you, so keep him in his place!” Well, we looked at each other in shock and surprise and realized then and there that Marty’s place WAS in our laps! What else does one buy an adorable, lap-sized, cuddly sweet baby dog for if not to sit with him in your lap? I’m just sayin’…
And sweet as pie. My face pressed into that soft, warm spot behind his bat-like ears, his now 8 kilo body all relaxed in my arms, I can only think of how much like the perfect dessert he is. Boston is as Boston does: layers of softness, delicate and light, surrounding a heart of cool sweetness, silky and beautifully tempered, the whole draped in a dark, bittersweet coat, strong yet gentle. The more time you spend with a Boston, the more he grows on you, the more you want one around you always. The more you eat of a Boston Cream Pie, forkful after marvelous forkful, the more you want, satisfied but ever craving. Black and white beauties, black and white confections, caress them, savor them, enjoy them. You’ll be coming back for more.
My Boston Terrier, Marty, came into my life as a surprise, and I’ve been surprised ever since by his humor and cleverness, by how funny he can be – more entertaining than television – stubborn and insolent at times yet how sweet and loving he can be as well. I have always loved Boston Cream Pie, yet I have never had the courage to make a one. In honor of my Marty and Bostons everywhere, I decided finally to tumble into the challenge. This was (because, as I write, there is one slice left) a magnificent treat. Cake rather than pie, lovely cloud-like sponge layers, the best I have ever tasted, sandwiching a thick, smooth, vanilla-scented pastry cream and the whole drenched in a beautiful chocolate ganache.
These are the wonderful Bostons, Maximus and MJ, owned by the other Jamie (Floridian as well) from Mom's Cooking Club!
And a very special thanks to my wonderful friend, Hilda of the beautiful blog Saffron &Blueberry who spent her lovely daughter Papoose’s (aka mini-Saffron) 5-month birthday creating a favicon for Life’s a Feast and half of her morning today helping me figure out how to install it in my blog template. You should see it appear by the end of today. I am truly blessed in the friends I have made through food blogs. Here's a slice of cake for you, Hilda.
After checking and comparing several recipes, I ended up following this classic Boston Cream Pie recipe from Joy of Baking blog. It takes time to make each layer – the pastry cream, the sponge layers then the ganache – but it is, on the whole, quite easy. But if I can guarantee you anything it is that it is totally worth the time and effort: this was one of the best cakes we have ever eaten. JP actually groaned with pleasure!
BOSTON CREAM PIE EXTRAORDINAIRE
¼ cups (50 g) sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/8 cup (20 g) flour
Scant 3 Tbs (20 g) cornstarch
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) milk (I used low-fat)
1 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
¾ cup (150 g) sugar, divided
½ tsp vanilla
3/4 cup (95 g) flour (I used cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbs milk
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or few grains of salt + drop or two of lemon juice to stabilize whites
Chocolate glaze or ganache:
4 oz (120 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used bittersweet Lindt 70% dessert and found that it made a ganache just a tad too bitter for me, husband found it perfect)
½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
Prepare the pastry cream:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir the egg yolks together with the sugar until smooth and blended. Do not do this in advance or the egg will cook.
Sift the flour and cornstarch together then add to the yolk/sugar mixture and stir to blend, mixing until smooth.
In a small saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch carefully. As the milk comes to the boil and starts to foam around the edges, remove from the heat and slowly pour over the egg mixture, whisking as you do in order to avoid curdling.
Place back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat just until it comes to the boil, whisking constantly, then allow to boil as you whisk for about 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
Pour into a clean bowl and cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Make the sponge cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and line two 8-inch (23 cm) round cake tins (measure along the bottom of the tin) with parchment paper.
Carefully separate 3 of the eggs, placing the yolks in a large mixing bowl and the whites in a medium mixing bowl, preferably plastic (ideal for whipping whites). Add the remaining 2 whole eggs and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter just until warm enough for the butter to melt. Once melted, stir together, remove from the heat and set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the yolks together with 6 tablespoons of the sugar on high speed, for 5 minutes until thick, light and fluffy and the batter drops off in a slow ribbon when the beaters are lifted. Beat in the vanilla.
In a clean mixing bowl, preferably plastic, and with clean beaters, whip the egg whites with either the cream of tartar or a few grains of salt and a drop or two of lemon juice on low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and continue beating, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Beat only until soft, moist, shiny peaks form.
Gently fold in half of the creamy egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining beaten whites. Sift or spoon half the flour mixture over the batter and gently fold it in before adding the remaining flour and folding that in just until incorporated. Do not over mix.
Make a well on one side of the batter and pour the warm melted butter/milk mixture into the bowl. Gently but thoroughly fold the butter/milk into the batter. Again, do not over mix.
Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans, gently smoothing the tops. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the top is light brown and the top springs back when gently touched in the center. Remove the pans from the oven onto cooling racks and immediately and carefully run a knife or spatula around the edges (the inside of the pans) to loosen the cakes as they start to pull away immediately. This will keep the cakes from ripping. Invert the cakes onto wire cooling racks then invert back, right side up, onto cooling racks to cool completely.
When the cakes are cool and you are ready to assemble the cake, take the pastry cream from the refrigerator and loosen the plastic wrap (I did this because I found that too chilled and the pastry cream is too thick to spread. It is easier to spread at room temperature.).
Prepare the chocolate glaze/ganache:
Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof medium-sized bowl. Bring the cream and the butter just to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to the bowl, pour the liquid over the chocolate and allow it to stand for 3 – 5 minutes.
Then stir until smooth and continue to stir until creamy and thick enough to spread. If you need to (as I did) place the bowl in the fridge until the desired pouring/spreading consistency is reached (not too thick or it won’t spread), taking the bowl out of the fridge and stirring every few minutes to check.
Assemble the cake:
Place 1 layer (carefully as they are very fluffy and delicate) onto your serving platter. With a spoon, stir the pastry cream vigorously until spreading consistency then spread all the cream onto the this cake layer, spreading carefully all the way to the edges. Gently lay the second layer of sponge cake on top of the pastry cream.
Very carefully, pour or ladle spoonfuls of the ganache onto the top of the cake and, using a cake spatula, spread out from the center to the edges, allowing some to drizzle down the sides. Or, if you like, you can completely cover the sides in the glaze as well.
PS The Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official Massachusetts State Dessert on December 12, 1996. A civics class from Norton High School sponsored the bill.
The Boston Terrier was indeed developed in Boston, Massachusetts. A truly American creation, this lovely, gentle dog was a cross between the English bulldog and the White English Terrier, originally as a fighting dog. He is now known as “The American Gentleman” because of his “dapper appearance” and his gentle disposition. (from the AKC website).