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.

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And Then, There’s Cake

Last weekend, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. When I asked her what she’d like (food-wise), she requested two things: nachos and chocolate mousse. Wow! Easy, peasy!

She always has been easy to cook for; we used to let the kids decide what their birthday meal would be. One year, her choice was soup. When asked whether she wanted green soup (vegetable soup) or red soup (vegetable soup with a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup thrown in for good measure), she asked for both. As I said, easy peasy!

John looked after the nachos, with Trinity’s help. They were amazing!

I looked after the cake. The first step was to find a recipe. Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest? The only thing I had to keep in mind was that it had to be gluten free. When I came across this recipe from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, I knew it was “the one”.

It’s a simple recipe, really. The cake came out beautifully and, it was really good. Both the cake and the mousse were simple to make and delicious! Yeah, I licked out the bowl. Can’t let good chocolate mousse go to waste, you know… or should that be “to waist”? Never mind, it’s already there.

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Even though neither John or I eat gluten free, I would make this cake again in a heartbeat. The cake layer was fudgy, tasty, with a great texture. The mousse? Well, what else is there to say about chocolate mousse but… YUM!

The recipe is definitely a keeper and one I will definitely make again and again!

Spice Loaf (aka Koek)

I started baking at a very young age. I was about seven years old when my mom showed me how to bake a basic two-egg cake with butter icing. It was my task to bake one every Saturday and it would be dessert after dinner that night and the other half would be our after church coffee time treat on Sunday.

Another cake she taught me to bake was this Spice Loaf. My mother had this recipe printed out in a spiral bound notebook and, once I was old enough to read and understand what I was reading, I realized that she had made an error in writing out the recipe, understandable, really, in that English is her second language and, at that time, it was a new language to her. Instead of writing cloves, she had added an “r”, and the recipe called for 1/2 tsp clovers. I teased her about it for years!

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Apart from one egg, there’s no added fat and a lot of yummy spices. Having said there’s no added fat, my favourite way of eating this is by the slice, slathered with copious amounts of  butter, and accompanied by a cup of tea.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

ETA: Well, I am astounded. In all the years I’ve been baking this loaf cake,  I have never (and I do mean never) had it fail. Until this time. I’m not sure what happened but I decided that, in the interest of brutal honesty, to let you know that it does happen. I think it may have been a combination of contributing factors. First, I’ve not made this cake in the time that we’ve lived here in this house and this oven, an old one, bakes on the hot side. If I take that into account, and the fact that the recipe, as written, calls for an oven temperature of 375º (a hot oven), it was probably baked at too high a temperature. As well, I should have moved the oven rack up one notch but I know that this cake can rise quite a bit. This time, it rose and burst, and batter oozed out of the side in an almost obscene display.

Then, when it was time to remove the cake from the pan, it stuck. And when I say stuck, I mean as if it had been glued into the pan! I did get it out eventually, with the air filled with colourful language. It is still edible, though, and as imperfect a loaf as it is, it is still delicious, even if the edges are a bit on the black side. 

Don’t let my failure this time stop you from trying this loaf; it really is a tasty treat. Just make sure you butter the loaf pan; I sprayed it with olive oil but that obviously wasn’t enough. As well, I’ve lowered the temperature to 350º in the recipe. That’s a better temperature for a loaf like this one.

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Spice Loaf (aka Koek)

[printable version]

Makes 1 loaf

  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients until well mixed and smooth. Pour into a well greased 8 inch loaf pan and bake at 350ºF in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing.