This Son, His Father, and that Boston Cream Pie


Since I was a kid, I have always dreamt of becoming a father. Four kids – two boys, two girls (including a set of twins). Believe it or not, I have put that in black and white. Back in college, my professor in Sociology assigned us a project to put into writing what we foresee in our future, including my career path, future wife, family choices, business options and a lot more seemingly adult stuff that my pubescent collegiate mind had to process. But I got through that and was actually able to self-publish three titles for that series of projects.

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My father has always been the hardworking and family-oriented father that most are. But what makes him extraordinary is his solid will and desire to provide for his family even if it forced him to work abroad for 20 years. Even though he was not able to spend much time with us because of his overseas work, the time that he was able to spend with us was time well-spent. He inculcated in us the characteristics of what a gentleman should be, and what our future wives should deserve as a husband. Yes, that young. Although we were not able to grab his engineering skills, we were able to pick up a few tips and tricks. He is the perfect role model.

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We celebrated Mother’s Day a month ago, and this time, it is the fathers’ time to be appreciated. I passed on having a country to inspire this Sunday’s dinner to celebrate Father’s Day. Lengua, or ox tongue in mushroom sauce, Pippirana, which is a Spanish potato salad, and a Throwdown with Bobby Flay-featured Boston Cream Pie graced the table. Lengua has always been a favorite in our family whenever special occasions are in order. The pippirana on the other hand is to tie the theme together with the lengua to make it a little bit Spanish. It is a light potato salad since no mayonnaise were involved. We recently got acquainted with the salad when we had Spain inspire our Gourmet Sunday long before I thought of making this blog.

Boston Cream Pie isn’t Spanish. So why did I decide to make this? Well, first off, Boston Cream for me is a donut. Never in my life will I think of Boston Cream Pie be in the form of a cake but actually, it was actually a cake which originated from, as the name implies, Boston. It is a two-layer cake filled with pastry cream and then topped with chocolate ganache. Nothing fancy right? None.

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As I browsed through the channels of our cable was few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Bobby Flay’s Throwdown in Food Network. It was Boston Cream Pie. As an avid baker, I did not pass on the chance of learning some tips and tricks from Bobby and from the competitor which in this case is Eunice Feller from Bread & Chocolate Bakery. The preview on her making this gargantuan cake was intimidating but certainly wooing. And woo it did. I made it a point to be able to recreate her Boston Cream Pie interpretation to the T – from the sponge layers, to the orange and thyme-infused pastry cream, to the ganache and of course, to her innovative assembly.

The assembly of her cake was exactly what lured me into making this. Amazing how she’s able to provide a solution to the worldwide crisis of not having enough filling in a cake! Creating a hollow well to house the filling is just genius.

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I baked the cake and made the pastry cream. Nothing hard to do. Now on to the much-awaited assembly. I carved out a well in the first layer and then placed it on top of the bottom layer. Nothing bad happened (but wait for it). As I started to fill the well with pastry cream, one side started to crack and eventually broke off as the cream filled the hole. It was like releasing water from a reserve. It was heartbreaking to see but I had to be resourceful and quick to solve the problem. I used the cake tin and inverted it to serve as a brace to hold the layer together. Freezing it became my only option. As I shakily topped the cake with mounds of cake cubes, I immediately placed it in the freezer and housed it there for about 3 hours before glazing it with ganache. It worked. Thank God. As I started to pour the ganache over, it started to crumble again. As I finish the cake, I deposited it back to the freezer and held it in place for a few minutes just to let the chocolate set and harden hoping that it would be able to support the side. Exhausting! I almost threw it out and bake another one.

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As we finished the meal, I took out the humongous cake and gave each one a slice. The taste of the orange really does go well with chocolate. I know that it is a good combination in theory but it is only now that I was able to concretize that knowledge. However, even though it looks good pre-slicing, the taste fell short from what we expected it to be. It did not hold well and I guess it would not travel well too. I’m glad that I made this but I wouldn’t make this again. It entailed a lot of time, effort and ingredients where the end-result did not make up for.

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If you want to make something that would challenge your cake-making skills, try this one for size. It will surely broaden your vision on assembling cakes. I learned how to use innovation to create products that would appeal to a greater market but make sure that it tastes as good as it looks.

Boston Cream Pie (Eunice Feller)
Entirely from Food Network website’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay

Makes 2 8-inch cakes

White Cake:
3 large eggs
5 large egg whites (reserve yolks for the pastry cream)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
3 sticks or 1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature

Chocolate Ganache:
1 pound bittersweet chocolate
1 pound semisweet chocolate
1 pound butter
2 cups heavy cream
Pastry Cream, chilled, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line 2 (8-inch) cake pans.

For the cake: Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, and vanilla and set aside.

Place the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add in the softened butter and half of the egg mixture to the mixer and beat on medium speed until batter is very smooth, about 4 minutes.

Add the remaining egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl after each addition, and beating for 2 minutes afterwards.

Portion out the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out to cool completely. Can be made a day ahead.

For the ganache: Place the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Whisk until melted and smooth.

Place the cooled cake on a cake round. Trim the top of the cake and hollow out the middle to hold the pastry cream. Cut the trimmed cake into big chunks and set aside. Place the lightened pastry cream into the cake, creating a small mound in the middle. Pile the cake pieces on top of the pastry cream. Pour warm ganache over the entire surface until covered. Let the cake rest for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

Orange and Thyme-infused Pastry Cream

4 cups whole milk, infused with thyme and orange zest, strained
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold

Place most of the milk, half of the sugar, and vanilla into a saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the rest of the milk, eggs, yolks, the remaining sugar, and cornstarch. Temper the egg mixture with 1/3 of the hot milk, whisk well, and pour back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, continue to cook and whisk until the custard is thick and starts to bubble. Continue whisking and cooking for 10 more seconds. Strain the pastry cream through a sieve, pushing through with a spatula, into a clean mixing bowl. Immediately cover the entire custard surface with plastic wrap and cool before using.

When the pastry cream is cool, remove the plastic wrap, insert the beater attachment into the stand mixer, and beat the pastry cream on medium speed until smooth. Remove the cream to a mixing bowl. Whisk the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the pastry cream in 2 additions.

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