Pastry Cream and Genoise, the building blocks for many different cakes or desserts. These recipes are again from Julia Child and are in her book Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom. Pastry Cream when used as a filling in a cake, pie or tart needs to be just the right consistency, not too thin or it will be runny and not so thick that it is reminiscent of glue. I found this recipe to be pretty perfect. The recipe gives you the option of using flour or corn starch as the thickening agent. Use whatever you are comfortable with.
A perfect Genoise is not as difficult as you may think. Once you master the technique it is a beautiful thing. I have had my share of fails and I always know why it failed, it was technique. I found that when making Genoise I cannot be interrupted, each step must flow, believe me this is not easy with the elderly pugs so I carefully plan for when I will make this cake.
Makes approximately 2 cups pastry cream
Whisk 6 room temperature egg yolks in a stainless steel saucepan or mixing bowl, gradually adding 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Continue until eggs are thick and pale yellow and form a ribbon. Sift on and whisk in 1/2 cup flour or cornstarch (I like to use cornstarch). Whisk in 2 cups hot milk or half and half by dribbles at first. Whisking slowly, bring to a boil, then wisk vigorously for a few seconds to smooth any lumps. Simmer, slowly stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk for 2 minutes (when it becomes thick) to cook the flour or corn starch (At this point whisk or stir constantly, it will thicken quickly and could easily scorch). If you are using a thermometer the custard should read 165, it will be very thick. Remove from heat and blend in 1 tbs pure vanilla extract and 2 tbs unsalted butter and rum or kirsch. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. Can also be frozen.
Note: The pastry cream is very thick, I usually whip it with my mixer before using it, add 2-4 tbs of heavy cream and whip or whisk until it’s fluffy.
For about 6 cups of batter, to make 1 round 9 x1 1/2 inch cake, or 1 round 8×2″ cake or enough for 16 cup cakes or a 12×16 inch sponge sheet.
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup plain unbleached cake flour sifted
1 tbs plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup clarified butter (I don’t always use clarified butter and it turns out just fine)
4 large eggs (soak the eggs in warm water for 5 minutes before whipping them, this will help to aerate the eggs and they will whip higher- saw this tip on a video Gourmet Magazine did)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Slide rack onto the lower middle level and prepare your pan. (I like to use a parchment round) butter and flour your pan well.
Sift the flour with the 1 tbs of sugar and salt and set aside, reserve your clarified butter. Beat the eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla in your mixer until it has formed the ribbon. At once rapidly sift on and fold in a quarter of the flour, then fold in half of what remains, then fold in the remaining flour. In other words you will fold in the dry ingredients in 3 installments. Fold a large plop of this batter into the clarified butter, then fold into the remaining batter. Turn batter into prepared pan filling to no more than 1/4 inch from the rim of the pan. Bang lightly on work surface to deflate bubbles and bake 30-35 minutes until light and golden brown and showing a faint line of shrinkage from the sides of the pan, let cool 20 minutes before unmolding onto a rack. Let cool completely before filling or icing.
Note:If you use an 8 inch round, the cake it is much higher than the 9 inch.
Making clarified butter:
The simple system: melt the butter and pour the clear yellow liquid off the milky residue. The professional long keeping method: Bring butter to a slow boil in a roomy saucepan and boil until its crackling and bubbling almost cease. Pour the clear yellow butter through a tea strainer into a jar where it will keep for months in the refrigerator or freezer.
Boston Cream Pie
A little history from Wikipedia:
A Boston cream pie is a cake that is filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake and not a pie. Created by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856, this pudding and cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla flavored custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes powdered sugar and a cherry.
The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts, declared as such in 1996.
This is my all time favorite cake, it has been since I was a child. It was my choice for a Birthday cake. There is something about the yellow cake, creamy vanilla pudding and chocolate ganache that are just so delicious.
The Glaze or Ganache
4 oz chocolate (all dark or half dark half milk) chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup + 2 tbs heavy cream
1 tbs Kahlua or corn syrup (Optional)
Place chocolate in bowl, heat cream to scalding, pour over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes, add the optional Kahlua or corn syrup, stir until smooth and shiny.
Cut your cake layer in half, brush each half (cut half) with simple syrup (you can flavor with a liquor if you like) spread a thick layer of pastry cream on the bottom half, place top half on, press down gently, smooth pastry cream with flexible offset spatula, pour ganache or glaze on cake. Serve at room temperature.