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The Basics- Creme Patissiere, Genoise And A Boston Cream Pie

Perfect egg whites

Perfect egg whites

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.

Creme Patissiere

Creme Patissiere

Creme Patissiere

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. 

9 inch genoise

9 inch genoise

Genoise

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

Boston Cream Pie

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.

Assembling

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.

Beautiful

Beautiful

IMG_5578

100 Comments Post a comment
  1. My favorite thing…an Apricot Genoise!!!

    February 26, 2014
  2. This sounds wonderful. I need to make a cake this Saturday…my son turns 16! Is it a good idea to make a trial run with the creme patissiere before trying to turn out a perfect cake for such a significant birthday? He hasn’t settled on the kind of cake he wants, but this sounds so good!

    February 26, 2014
    • Yes definitely do a trial run, I like to use cornstarch for the creme, it thickens quickly going from runny to thick in a matter of seconds so it takes a watchful eye. I don’t mind that it’s really thick, I thin with some cream and whip it before use, it is the perfect consistency and I do love this cake. My all time favorite. Happy Birthday to your son, 16 is a good age, I can remember my 16th still to this day.
      The creme can be refrigerated several days and in my opinion it’s even better after a day or two.

      February 26, 2014
      • Great! Thank you Suzanne, for the tips and the idea too. And the Happy Birthday wish!

        February 26, 2014
      • Thank you, let me know if you make it and how it turns out.

        February 26, 2014
  3. Oh my! Looks soo yumm! I love boston cream pie.

    February 26, 2014
  4. toozesty #

    Oh man, that looks delicious! And pretty!

    February 26, 2014
  5. Oh my… I’ve never tried a Boston Cream Pie before, but it looks SO GOOD Suzanne! Creme Patissiere is such a wonderfully versatile filling – thanks for sharing these great recipes!

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you, it really is a great cake, it’s so simple and delicious.

      February 26, 2014
  6. This cake looks incredible, so perfect 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    February 26, 2014
  7. Suzanne the Boston Cream Pie looks delicious. I am so envious of your culinary capabilities.

    February 26, 2014
  8. I agree, looks like a perfect dessert! I didn’t know you can freeze pastry cream. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

    February 26, 2014
    • I had no idea either until I read in the book that you can. I have not tried it though so cannot vouch for it. Thank you so much.

      February 26, 2014
  9. Yum! Yum!

    February 26, 2014
  10. I LOVE boston cream pie! It’s, dare I say it, my favourite cake of all time. For real. This looks perfect!

    February 26, 2014
  11. I love this classic Suzanne and you have done it beautifully. Thanks for the tips on crème patissière. I have done it several times but I didn´t know it lasted so long in the fridge. And I love genoise, it is so versatile and I agree with you that it is not difficult once you know the technique. I also use it for birthday cakes they are great with filling and frosting!

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you so much Viviana, I think it’s so important to have basic classic recipes in our repertoire. You can’t go wrong. I love to use this recipe for all sorts of different types of cakes, it’s so versatile.

      February 26, 2014
  12. Oh,I have been away from all the food blogs, including my own, and almost missed this! This is wonderfully done; thank you …and Kahlua in the ganache?Inspired!

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you so much Tonette, I just love kahlua and mixed with the chocolate it’s heavenly, Welcome back!!!

      February 26, 2014
  13. Suzanne… what a wonderful post! I so enjoyed this. The Boston Cream Pie is gorgeous…Oh, how I love it!! It’s always such a special treat! Your photos are so beautiful.. ❤

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you do much. It really us such a wonderful cake and it hS been around a long time, really has withstood the test of time!

      February 26, 2014
  14. Probably won’t surprise you that I haven’t had either of these cakes. As I’m only really getting into sponge type cakes the last few months. Especially chocolate – that’s another matter! Just finished my third. Oops. Shall have to bake another tomorrow night!

    February 26, 2014
    • I love chocolate sponge, it took me a while to get it right the eggs need to be beaten just right. Hope to see you post on sponge cake. You have had Victoria sponge right? I love it!! Thanks Johnny .

      February 26, 2014
  15. Liz #

    beautiful! I admire you so for the ambitious projects you take on. I can’t even imagine how amazing that cake must have tasted. 😀

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you so much Liz, it’s a good thing I love to cook, for me this is fun ! Thanks again.

      February 27, 2014
  16. Suzanne, This post is textbook wonderful, Thank you! I appreciate patissiere creme and use it quite often, especially in a braided puff pastry with fruits. Next time, I am going to try your recipe.

    February 26, 2014
    • Oh Fae, thank you so much for the kind compliment. Is this the recipe you use for creme patissiere or do you have a different one? This cake is absolutely wonderful. I also use this in eclair’s, another one of my favorites. Thank you so much!

      February 27, 2014
      • Same ingredients of course with different ratios. Interestingly enough, I got it from Julia Child’s TV program. I adjust the sugar amount depending on the recipe. I have the recipe on my blog in Braided Danish, Nov 2012 post. Please let me know what you think.

        February 27, 2014
      • Definitely will check that out, so funny it’s a Julia recipe also!

        February 27, 2014
  17. Gorgeous, Suzanne! I grew up in Massachusetts and Boston Cream Pie was always my dessert of choice. I haven’t had it in ages and your recipe is inspiring me. What a treat! Thanks for sharing and bringing back wonderful memories.

    February 26, 2014
    • Hannah, thank you so much I also lived in Boston and always saw it on menu’s but didn’t know it was the official dessert of Massachusetts. It’s such a wonderful treat!

      February 27, 2014
  18. I’m getting pretty weak in the knees looking at that Boston Cream Pie, it’s hands down one of my favorite treats!

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you so much, there is something about this dessert that is just so delicious, it’s very simple and one of my all time favorites.

      February 27, 2014
  19. I have yet to make a Boston Cream Pie! That’s probably a sin in your book? Right, Suzanne? It’s on my list!!! Yours looks delicious!! xx

    February 27, 2014
    • Not a sin but you really should try it, my Mom aways bought one from our local Italian Bakery when I was a child, I still remember how much I loved that cake. Thanks so much Christina!

      February 27, 2014
  20. What great classic recipes. I have too little patience to make crème pat on a regular basis – I can’t even remember when the last time was – so I shall certainly refer back to this recipe with all your helpful tips when I next try it 🙂 The finished cake looks utterly scrumptious – I’m glad your pugs didn’t get in the way of your completing it!

    February 27, 2014
    • Ha, I took Nando out right before I started and he was at the door as I was putting it in the oven, Just made it, LOL, thank you so much. It was fun to make and very tasty. Creme Patissiere is not on the agenda very often for me either but when I do make it I wish I made it more often, so creamy and delicious.

      February 27, 2014
  21. I haven’t made any Boston cream pie or Creme Patissiere before, will think about it and put on my list, thanks for sharing. How are you now?

    February 27, 2014
    • Thanks Mochi, it’s definitely worth making if you are inclined. I am in physical rehabilitation hoping that I will be able to use my finger again, the therapist is hopeful that I will get partial use in a few months. Thank you for asking.

      February 27, 2014
  22. Yum! Funny you shared Boston creme pie- you’re gonna like my next post once I get around to it! I love Boston creme pie 🙂 Never exactly thought about how it’s called pie when in fact cake..funny

    February 27, 2014
    • I look forward to your post, I guess they call it a pie because its on the thinish side and is one layer. Or maybe the chef didn’t know the difference. LOL

      February 27, 2014
  23. Suzanne, this is dangerous : I was about to take the first plane for NYC and come picking a slice of it.
    Creme patissiere is one of my favorite thing in baking. It was actually one of the first thing I’ve tried. And this cake sounds soooo delicious…. Thinkinf of making it ! This is devil !

    February 27, 2014
    • Oh thank you so much Sarah, I hop on a plane and hand deliver if I could, any excuse to visit France. I have a sweet tooth, big time so anything sweet is good for me, but Boston Cream pie is positively heavenly!!

      February 27, 2014
  24. shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com #

    I love your breakdown of everything that goes in this boston creme pie – that pastry creme i think I could eat that with a spoon! And now I wish chocolate ganache came out of the tap when I opened it 🙂 Thanks Suzanne for sharing these amazing 3 recipes

    February 27, 2014
    • Oh yes, ganache coming from the tap, now that would be great!!! Love it. Thank you Shashi, it was great fun doing this post and my sweet tooth was very happy!

      February 27, 2014
  25. Everything looks so beautiful and delicious! I’ve never actually tried cream patissiere or boston cream pie, can you believe it?! I never liked pie growing up and was really hesitant to try things other than basics. It wasn’t until I became an adult in my 30’s that I finally tried Tiramisu, which is my ALL TIME favorite dessert!!!

    February 27, 2014
    • Thanks Brandi, right up there with Boston Cream Pie (cake) is tiramisu, Love it! I never had tiramisu as a chlld, my Mom made lots and lots of pie and cakes but never any Italian ones. Weird really.

      February 27, 2014
  26. The ganache dripping down the sides looks marvelous!

    February 27, 2014
  27. I have just had a slice of toast before I head to bed but HOW I wish I could have had a slice of your sponge. The new illustrations are adorable. 😉

    February 27, 2014
    • Thank you, I had toast with peanut butter for dinner. Got rid of the cake quickly so I wouldn’t eat it, had one piece and gave the rest away. Azita from Fig and Quince designed a logo for me, which I put on my business card. We added to my blog also, I love it, she is so talented.

      February 27, 2014
  28. I heart Julia so much just seeing pix of her make me happy but Suzanne, that shot of the cake with chocolate dripping off it … let’s just say it’s a killer! Having an almost primal reaction of wanting to cut a slice off and stuffing it in my mouth ha ha

    February 27, 2014
    • Thank you Azita, I know that ganache dripping is drool worthy, but I am a sucker for dripping chocolate. I managed to stuff one slice into my mouth before it went bye bye!!

      February 28, 2014
  29. I can’t say how much I love this post! I tried to make a Boston Cream Pie about a year ago and it was a complete disaster. So you’ve got me itching to try it again. Those photos were mouth watering!! Great post Suzanne (including the Julia Child!! –Have you read her book, My Life In France? charming and worthwhile.) thanks!

    February 28, 2014
    • Boston Cream is wonderful and I hope you will give it another try. Oh yes, I read her book on her life in France, so interesting and entertaining. I loved every word. Thanks so much Rhonda.

      February 28, 2014
  30. I need/want some please??? 🙂 I have to try it, it looks delicious!!!

    February 28, 2014
    • I’ll trade you a Boston Cream Pie for one of your beautiful crochet pieces. I drool over them!!

      February 28, 2014
  31. Thanks a lot Suzanne! I just drooled all over my keyboard! 😉 (though perhaps I will blame Dewars since he is sitting up on the desk with me). Looks amazing! And I love the new pug background!
    Jessica

    February 28, 2014
    • Thank you, LOL, aww… Dewars gets the blame. I love the pug logo that Azita did for me. I have a black and fawn logo.

      February 28, 2014
  32. Never tied Boston cream pie, but it looks so delicious! I’m definitely missing out- will have to try the recipe 🙂

    March 1, 2014
    • It’s wonderful Jessica, it is pretty much my favorite cake. Thank you so much.

      March 1, 2014
  33. Looking crazy delicious, Suzanne! I love your basic series. I truly believe there is a huge need to get back to the basics. All this fancy food around made us forget how good the simple food is and even how to make it. 🙂
    The new illustrations are gorgeous. As soon as I saw them, I knew there were Azita’s. Her style is unmistakable. 🙂

    March 1, 2014
    • Thank you, I love basic recipes, whether using as written or as a stepping stone to another recipe it is valuable to have the knowledge. Yes, it does have Azita written all over it. I love her style and am in awe of her talent. Thank you.

      March 2, 2014
  34. How is your finger doing?

    March 2, 2014
    • Thanks for asking, I started physical therapy because my finger is completely stiff, cannot be used at all. I may need surgery if the therapy doesn’t work. I tore the main tendon that holds the joint in place. :o(

      March 2, 2014
  35. Sometimes it’s the perfect simple things that are the most difficult to achieve – it looks like your Boston cream couldn’t be more perfect if it tried – beautiful!

    March 2, 2014
    • Thank you so much, I agree, it’s hit or miss sometimes with the genoise. I have had some spectacular failures.

      March 2, 2014
  36. Yours is the second blog I read this morning that referred to Julia child – clearly she was the queen of the kitchen. Your cake looks sumptuous!

    March 3, 2014
    • She is culinary icon, larger than life. I did love watching her. Thank you so much Cindy!

      March 3, 2014
  37. Hard to pass by a post with Boston Cream Pie in the title! Loved this. Wouldn’t a Julia Child dinner party be fun?

    March 3, 2014
    • Thank you and a Julia dinner party would be amazing, great great idea!!

      March 3, 2014
  38. I love pastry cream on everything! The cake looks delicious!

    March 3, 2014
  39. sprinklesandsauce #

    me and my husband just stared at your boston cream pie!

    March 3, 2014
  40. ciao! i am savouring this treat…baking soon. great photos. do get a second opinion on your finger…that’s a luvMUST.
    thebestdressup

    March 4, 2014
  41. One of the things I loved while staying in the States was the Boston Cream Doughnut! I was completely hooked! This is such a beautiful dessert Suzanne!

    March 5, 2014
    • Oh yes I love those doughnuts, well I am a boston cream lover so anything with that flavor profile is one of my favorites. Thank you so much Katerina!

      March 5, 2014
  42. When I was living in Boston, I used to walk over to a hotel that served this. I’d order a big piece of Boston Cream Pie and a glass of wine on the weekends as a treat to myself. I still can’t resist it whenever I see it on a menu. Thanks for a wonderful recipe (and memories). BTW – I had to cancel my trip to NYC. My cousin, who lives in Boston, had to cancel as her kitty is very, very sick. No way she could leave him. I was disappointed, but totally understood. We’re going to try again for next winter. Hopefully it all works then, as I’d love for us to meet 🙂

    March 7, 2014
    • Oh I would love to have a piece of the cake in the place it was conceived. Next time I go to Boston I will go there. Thanks so much.

      March 7, 2014
  43. Your Boston cream pie looks divine, especially with that chocolate ganache dripping down. YUM! You have been busy in the kitchen! I don’t know how I missed your postings, but I’ve had a delicious time catching up 🙂

    March 9, 2014
    • Thank you, yes I have been busy. Catching up on cooking. Boston Cream Pie is my favorite. Perfect use of genoise or sponge!

      March 9, 2014
  44. Oh lordy, this is gorgeous Suzanne! The shiny ganache is stunning. Is your finger better now? I’m reading back through your posts as I’ve missed a few… have been thinking of you. I definitely want to make this pie. Yummo! x

    March 10, 2014
    • Thanks Laura, the cake is delicious, love Boston Cream!! Thank you for asking about the finger, although not better I am hopeful that after physical therapy I will get some use back in my finger. I can bend it a little bit now, Baby steps!!

      March 10, 2014
  45. This is spectacular! I love genoise and adore boston cream anything. The ganache draped over the top is calling my name. Lovely!

    March 10, 2014
  46. I love Boston Creme pies!!! And Julia Child!

    March 18, 2014

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