V's birthday cake is something of a tradition in our home because this guy loves his sweets. As opposed to me. You could pour potato chips into a bowl and stick a candle in it and I'd be quite giddy with happiness.
Anyway, I spent the last month poring over blogs to look for this year's birthday cake for V. One baking book was mentioned a lot- Sky High irresistible triple-layer cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne (a niece and uncle team). I requested the book from the library and suddenly had so many options for the birthday boy to choose from.
Flipping through the book, I was eyeing a chocolate-hazelnut beauty and a dulce de leche cake but instantly knew THE one: triple-decker Boston cream pie. In our years in NYC, V has enjoyed many (and I really don't want to make an estimate here) Boston cream doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts. He loved that rich vanilla pastry cream encased in crisp fried dough. This doughnut is a take on a classic American dessert called Boston Cream Pie.
Boston Cream Pie contains no cream whatsoever and is not a pie. It does have a connection to Boston, having been invented by a pastry chef there. It is an airy vanilla cake filled with a rich vanilla filling and topped with a bittersweet chocolate glaze- full of simple and classic flavors.
I won't post the triple decker Boston Cream Pie recipe here because the recipe from the book has been posted in its entirety on two blogs, one for a 60th birthday celebration (and again, there's a reference to the Boston Cream from Dunkin Donuts), and another for a 14th birthday party. It looks like people of all ages enjoy this flavor! Get the recipe from one of these blogs if you'd like to try it.
The authors explain that cakes come in different varieties (I definitely learned something new here): butter cakes are the most familiar kind with butter and sugar creamed together and baking powder or baking soda to help them rise. Then there are the foam cakes like sponge cakes and angel food cakes where whipped egg whites give the rising action. Finally, chiffon cakes are a combination, containing both eggs and baking powder, plus some fat, usually oil instead of butter.
Their Boston cream pie is a chiffon cake, it uses 8 eggs- separated- where the whites are beaten to frothy ribbons with sugar before folding in yolks and oil and flour and baking powder. The batter is unbelievably light and airy and bakes into spongy golden cakes.
Meanwhile, I made the rich vanilla custard with egg yolks and some cornstarch and milk. Their directions were so detailed and precise that making the custard was a gratifying experience. In making this cake, it really helps to have two people working together because there's lots of whisking and stirring involved.
My only problem was that I used 8 inch cake pans instead of 9 inch ones as the book called for, resulting in taller cakes. Add to that the thick custard and sticky glaze and the result was an unsteady tower that did not look anything close to picture perfect. Next time, I will bake this in a sheet pan. Never mind sky high!
Here's the finished cake in its utterly sloppy but delectable glory-
The important thing is, the cake tasted fantastic. Even with 14 eggs (!!!) there was not a hint of eggy smell, just the glorious taste of vanilla and chocolate and a light and tender crumb soaking in the custard. Here's to another wonderful year for my wonderful guy!
Thanks for everyone who left thoughtful and inspiring comments on my last post; I've added some of your tips at the end of that post for all to read.