Boston Cream Pie and Two New Books

Being a member of a cooking forum (ChefTalk.com) has its benefits. Considering the fact that there are both professional chefs and home cooks, and everything in between, it’s a great place to learn. Through ChefTalk, I learned about two books that a number of the pros claimed should be in every home cook’s library. Both are by the same author, Shirley O. Corriher, a biochemist by training and occupation. They are BakeWise and CookWise. When a number of chefs tell you the same thing, you buy the books. So I did. I’m not sorry; both books contain a wealth of information that includes a lot of the science behind why a recipe works and what difference different ingredients will make in your finished product.

Then, another cooking forum I’m on in Ravelry, Cooking From Scratch, decided to start a monthly Bake Along. The first recipe, for the month of March is Boston Cream Pie, a cake that brings back memories for me. A recipe by Tori Avey was posted as the recipe to follow but I really wanted to try the Boston Cream Pie recipe in BakeWise. It’s a completely different method of baking a cake than I have ever seen, and even incorporates whipped cream (yes, whipped).

Because of copyright issues, I can’t post the recipe here but I can tell you that the entire recipe uses 10 eggs in total, five yolks for the custard, three yolks and two whole eggs for the cake, and rum.  The recipe in BakeWise uses Shirley’s recipe for Magnificent  Moist Golden Cake filled with custard from scratch and topped with a double glazing of velvety chocolate ganache.

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First step – the custard filling

After reading the recipe through a couple of times, I anticipated that it would be a fairly long and involved process to complete this cake. In reality, that’s not the case at all. I made the custard first and, while it was cooling outside, I made the cake. As long as you have all the ingredients ready to go, the cake comes together quickly. As I said, the cake method is one I’d never seen before and I’ve baked a lot of cakes. It starts with adding the sugar to the mixing bowl, then pouring in simmering water and blending until the sugar dissolves. At that point, the butter and flavourings are added (in this case, vanilla and rum). After these ingredients are well mixed in, the flour is added in three parts and only then are the eggs mixed in, by hand, and the batter is finished off with the addition of whipped cream. And it worked!

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Just out of the oven

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Cooling

While it was in the oven, I put the ingredients for the ganache together and held it in a bowl over a pan of hot water over the element above the oven. It stayed fluid long enough over the residual heat from the oven long enough for the cake and custard to cool completely. I assembled the cake just before dinner and we had a piece for dessert. Oh my!

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Apparently, anything that drips onto the plate is fair game for anyone to sample

Honestly, this cake is delicious! The hint of rum flavouring in the cake is barely noticeable but still there. The custard pops with vanilla flavouring and the ganache… well, it’s ganache, people. What’s not to love. John was thrilled with it but is even more convinced I’m trying to kill him, with baked goods as my weapon of choice.

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If you can get your hands on Bakewise, whether you buy it or borrow it, I can heartily recommend this recipe. I’ll definitely be baking this cake again.

Goat’s Feet… a Sweet Treat

Yeah, so what’s with the Goat’s Feet being a sweet treat, right? I mean, really, goat’s feet? Uh huh.

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere in the past that I come from a Dutch background. One of my very first jobs was in a Dutch bakery and that’s where I learned about a delicious cookie that translates as Goat’s Feet. In Dutch, they’re called Bokkepootjes and if you come from a Dutch background, you’re probably familiar with this delicious almond sandwich cookie that’s filled with buttercream, with the ends dipped in chocolate.

The reason behind the name is that, once the ends are dipped in chocolate, apparently they look like … you guessed it…. goat’s feet. They’re a lot tastier, though.

The cookies start with egg whites, sugar, and a pinch of salt, beaten to stiff peaks.

Then, the almonds and icing sugar are carefully mixed in. Sound familiar? So far, the process is almost the same as macarons. However, once the almonds and icing sugar are incorporated, the flour and vanilla are folded in to the mixture.

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Once carefully blended, the cookies are piped into finger shapes onto parchment lined sheets, sprinkled with sliced almonds and baked.

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While the cookies are baking and cooling, the Baker’s cream, the base for the buttercream, is made using egg yolks, sugar, milk, a vanilla bean, and a little corn starch. Once done, the mixture is allowed to cool completely.

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To finish making the buttercream, softened butter (the butter really does need to be very soft!) and powdered sugar are beaten until light and fluffy. Then, the Baker’s cream is mixed in by tablespoon until the mixture is well mixed and fluffy.

At this point, the buttercream is piped onto half the cookies; the cookies are assembled, then dipped into chocolate.

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After dipping into the chocolate, they’re placed back on to parchment lined sheets and allowed to rest until the chocolate has hardened.

That’s it! Goat’s Feet Cookies…. Bokkepootjes… a true Dutch treat. They really need a better name, don’t they? Really, though, why should it be just the Dutch who get to enjoy these? They’re not difficult to make and they’re SO good! (They should have a different name, though… I mean, Goat’s Feet??)

To download the recipe, just click………. bokkepootjes-english.

And Then, There’s Swiss

In what is beginning to feel like a never-ending quest for perfection, I’ve realized that there is a third method for making French macarons. When I made the Grapefruit Macarons, I didn’t realize that they used this method, also called the Swiss Meringue Macarons. The difference in this method is that the egg whites and sugar are mixed together, then heated au bain marie (double boiler method) until the sugar has melted and incorporated into the whites, then beaten to stiff peaks before adding the icing sugar and almond.

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Perspective does strange things… my whisk is NOT that long and skinny. Honest!

In doing even more reading, I found that this method is the least well known of the three but is more stable than the French method and more delicate than the Italian method. Of course, you know that I had to give it another go, right? I’m stubborn that way.

I found a couple of online pdfs, one from Chef Joseph Cumm, and another from Chef Ryan Zimmer; both recipes are similar in their ratios. This time, I’m following Chef Joseph’s recipe. I’ll be adding red powdered food colouring to the batter and will be filling them with a raspberry chocolate ganache (already made and cooling). His pdf even has a troubleshooting guide at the end.

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The tops are a little rough looking; I probably should have whizzed the almonds and icing sugar before running them through the sieve but I like to live dangerously. Coming out of the oven, the shells are very fragile and I wasn’t, apparently, very careful.

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Once I let them cool, they were better. I learned a little “trick” on one of the (many) videos I watched – push the bottoms in a bit. It gives more room for filling and pushes the insides up to the top, helping to fill in the hollows.

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I filled these with dark chocolate raspberry ganache.

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I’m not sure how long I can wait before trying these. I have to say, making macarons can be a bit confusing. In everything I’ve read, there’s been conflicting information. The oven’s too hot. The oven’s too cool. The meringue is over beaten. The meringue is under beaten. The macaronage isn’t processed enough. The macaronage is processed too much.

Will I ever reach macaron perfection? Does it really matter? No matter how they look, they still taste the same. Will I keep making them? Oh yeah. As often as I have over the past few weeks? I don’t think so.

But I WILL keep researching.