The Basics- Creme Patissiere, Genoise And A Boston Cream Pie
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 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.
My favorite thing…an Apricot Genoise!!!
Oh yes, I do love a good genoise also! Thank you!
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!
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.
Great! Thank you Suzanne, for the tips and the idea too. And the Happy Birthday wish!
Thank you, let me know if you make it and how it turns out.
Oh my! Looks soo yumm! I love boston cream pie.
Thank you so much, I love it too!
Oh man, that looks delicious! And pretty!
Thanks so much.
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!
Thank you, it really is a great cake, it’s so simple and delicious.
This cake looks incredible, so perfect 😀
Choc Chip Uru
Thank you so much Uru!
Suzanne the Boston Cream Pie looks delicious. I am so envious of your culinary capabilities.
Thank you so much. you are too kind.
I agree, looks like a perfect dessert! I didn’t know you can freeze pastry cream. Thanks for the tip! 🙂
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.
Thank you, thank you!
I LOVE boston cream pie! It’s, dare I say it, my favourite cake of all time. For real. This looks perfect!
Thanks so much Sarah, mine too!
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!
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.
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!
Thank you so much Tonette, I just love kahlua and mixed with the chocolate it’s heavenly, Welcome back!!!
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.. ❤
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!
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!
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 .
beautiful! I admire you so for the ambitious projects you take on. I can’t even imagine how amazing that cake must have tasted. 😀
Thank you so much Liz, it’s a good thing I love to cook, for me this is fun ! Thanks again.
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.
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!
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.
Definitely will check that out, so funny it’s a Julia recipe also!
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.
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!
I’m getting pretty weak in the knees looking at that Boston Cream Pie, it’s hands down one of my favorite treats!
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
We’re friend, right? Can we? 😄
Of course, thank you.
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
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
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 !
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!!
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
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!
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!!!
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.
The ganache dripping down the sides looks marvelous!
Thank you so much Mary Frances!
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. 😉
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.
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
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!!
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!
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.
I need/want some please??? 🙂 I have to try it, it looks delicious!!!
I’ll trade you a Boston Cream Pie for one of your beautiful crochet pieces. I drool over them!!
🙂 wow!!! deal!!! 🙂
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!
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.
Never tied Boston cream pie, but it looks so delicious! I’m definitely missing out- will have to try the recipe 🙂
It’s wonderful Jessica, it is pretty much my favorite cake. Thank you so much.
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. 🙂
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.
How is your finger doing?
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(
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!
Thank you so much, I agree, it’s hit or miss sometimes with the genoise. I have had some spectacular failures.
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!
She is culinary icon, larger than life. I did love watching her. Thank you so much Cindy!
Hard to pass by a post with Boston Cream Pie in the title! Loved this. Wouldn’t a Julia Child dinner party be fun?
Thank you and a Julia dinner party would be amazing, great great idea!!
I love pastry cream on everything! The cake looks delicious!
Thank you so much, I do also!!
me and my husband just stared at your boston cream pie!
Thanks so much!
ciao! i am savouring this treat…baking soon. great photos. do get a second opinion on your finger…that’s a luvMUST.
Thank you so much, I did and I am in therapy right now.
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!
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Thank you, yes I have been busy. Catching up on cooking. Boston Cream Pie is my favorite. Perfect use of genoise or sponge!
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
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!!
This is spectacular! I love genoise and adore boston cream anything. The ganache draped over the top is calling my name. Lovely!
Thanks so much Kate, I am a Boston Cream fan too!
I love Boston Creme pies!!! And Julia Child!
Thank you so much and me too to both!