Source: Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed.), pg. 95.
My birthday was last week and Michael always makes me my favorite cake, the Boston Cream Pie. He doesn't do a lot of baking although he is an excellent cook. He usually uses a box mix but this year he asked me if Maida Heatter had a recipe. Of course she did! I helped him and we made the cake in installments, first baking the cake and freezing it. The filling was made a few days before my birthday and refrigerated. Then, on the last day, the cake was assembled and the frosting made. I have had many Boston Cream Pies and I can easily say that this was the best one ever! The filling was outstanding and Michael thinks it would make an excellent filling for a coconut cream pie. No one (including Ms. Heatter) seems to know why this is called a "pie" instead of a "cake" but regardless of the name, it is a sinfully delicious dessert.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
If you make the cake in one day, make this vanilla pastry cream first so that it can be chilled. Otherwise, you can make this ahead of time and refrigerate it.
1/4 cup plus 1 TBS sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 oz. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Beat the eggs lightly and set aside. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a heavy 1-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk, then cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Continue to stir and boil gently for a minute or two. The mixture will be thick - similar to vichyssoise.
Remove pan from the heat and ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to the eggs and stir well to mix. (Do this slowly and stir to avoid cooking the eggs). Repeat, adding 1/2 cup at a time until you have added about half of the mixture to the eggs. Slowly , stirring constantly, stir the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture.
Place the pan over low heat and cook, still stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the butter and the almond and vanilla extracts.
Stop the cooking by pouring the mixture into a bowl. Cut a round of wax paper to fit on top of the cream, touching it. This prevents a skin from forming.
Let this stand and cool and then refrigerate for at least an hour. You can make it a day or so ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until needed.
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, separated
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS cold water
3 TBS unsalted butter, melted
Adjust rack to center of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter a 9 x 1 1/2 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment or wax paper, butter the paper and dust with fine dry bread crumbs.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until the whites hold a soft shape. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add 1/3 cup of the sugar (reserve the remaining 1/3 cup). Increase the speed and beat briefly until the whites hold a point when the beaters are raised. Do not let the whites become stiff or dry.
Transfer the whites to a large mixer bowl. Set aside.
Place yolks in the small bowl of the mixer. Beat briefly, then gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Beat at high speed until the mixture is very light - almost white. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. Lower the speed and add the cold water, scraping the bowl as necessary and beating only until the mixture is smooth.
Fold the yolk into the whites in four additions (do not handle more than necessary).
Place the dry ingredients in a sifter and hold the sifter over the bowl, sifting with one hand and folding with the other. Add the dry ingredients in four or five additions. (do not handle more than necessary).
Add the melted butter to the batter and fold gently until barely incorporated. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed gently with a fingertip.
Remove from oven. Use a sharp knife to cut around the rim of the pan to release the cake. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes before turning the cake out onto a cooling rack.
The cake must be cut into two layers but this is easier to do if chilling or freezing the cake first.
When ready to cut, use of long thin sharp knife (or cake cutting tool) to cut the cake into 2 thin layers. Spread the chilled pastry cream over the first layer to 1/2 inch from the edges of the cake. Cover with the top layer. Refrigerate the cake while you make the glaze.
1/4 cup whipping cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Add the chocolate, stir briefly until partly melted, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until completely melted. Transfer the glaze to a small bowl and let it stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the glaze onto the cake; then, with a long, narrow metal spatula, smooth it just to the edges of the cake. Try to avoid letting the glaze run down the sides of the cake but it is okay if it does. Refrigerate and serve cold.