Their seasonal recipes are unfailingly delicious, and reliable for a weeknight dinner or a dinner party. This take on a Boston Cream Pie from Canal House Vol. 6 steals the show…
Boston Cream Pie
Makes two “pies”
This pie is actually a delicate cake and should be served “with plenty of good hot coffee”, according to Alan hooker, from whose recipe in “California Herb cookery” (Edwin House Publishing, 1996) we adapted this one.
For the cake
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour, plus more for the pan
¼ cup pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the custard
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the chocolate icing
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
For the cake, preheat oven to 400°. Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat for 15 minutes. (Be patient; this long beating is what makes this cake so light and delicate.)
Sift together the cake flour, pastry flour, and nutmeg. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the beaten eggs while continuing to whisk. Add the milk and vanilla.
Grease two 8 ½ inch round cake pans and dust them with flour, tapping out any excess. Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake until the tops are golden and a skewer poked into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 17-20 minutes. Unmold the cakes onto wax paper or parchment paper that has been sprinkled with sugar.
For the custard, heat 1 ½ cups of the milk and the sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Whisk together the remaining one cup milk, cornstarch, egg yolks, salt, vanilla, and Grand Marnier, if using. Gradually add it to the hot milk, stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard is thick and smooth, about 20 minutes. Keep heat low and stir from the bottom of the pan so the custard doesn’t scorch. Stir in the butter then set aside to cool.
For the chocolate icing, heat the chocolate and cream in a small heavy pan over low heat, stirring until melted and smooth (or heat for about 1 minute in the microwave, then stir the cream and chocolate together).
To assemble, split each cake into 2 layers, spread the bottom layers with cooled custard, put on the top layers, and spread chocolate icing evenly over the tops.
Canal House Cooking Vol. No. 6, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. Photography by Christopher Hirsheimer. Canal House, $30