Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Leaning Tower of Stickiness

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 another for a 14th birthday party. It looks like people of all ages enjoy this flavor! Get the recipe from this blog 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.


  1. That looks pretty steady to me Nupur! Oh My and delicious too. Happy Birthday to the better half.

  2. Wow...lucky birthday boy !! Am sure he had a wonderful time with this cake !! I actually like the sloppy look :)

  3. Love ur title... he he..
    cake looks yum...

  4. That does sound super delicious. I am just drooling all over that chocolate lava from the top of the cake. I did not know of all those types of cake, so thanks for that info. Belated happy birthday to V.

  5. Happy Birthday V!

    I'd love to start baking again... soon :)

  6. Wow, 14 eggs that's a lot!, and leaning tower isn't looking all that sloppy, I felt licking.., you have done great job!

  7. are you kidding? the cake looks GREAT! i can almost taste the custard that is oozing so gloriously out of the sides there! i think chiffon cake might be one of my favourites... now I want some!

  8. The cake looked delicious, Nupur. You definitely know how to pamper your dear ones.

  9. great post title! great cake - looks delicious though all those eggs would make me think twice but sounds like you had a winner!

  10. Happy B'day to V and I'm sure he enjoyed the cake very much.. Cake looks yummy.. but 14 eggs hmmmmmmmm.. but b'days are for indulging, so once a year should be OK. Have a great rest of the week.

  11. A HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY TO V!!!!! Hope u had a great day and have a WONDERFUL year ahead!
    The cake looks quite steady to me and to say nothing about DELISH!
    I love all things sweet too and this looks like a bit of heaven..aaaahhhhh!
    Did Dale get his bit too ?:)

  12. The cake looks delicious Nupur. I wish I could just grab a lil piece from that pic :)

    Happy B'day to V. I am sure he loved that cake.

  13. Oh my goodness! What's not to love with this cake?! Leaning makes it look even more fantastic! I am keeping this on faves for MY birthday inspirations! Yum! (Seriously. . . 14 eggs?!--how could I veganize this one?)

  14. Wish V a happy birthday! The cake looks quite nice Nupur.

  15. Wishing V a very Happy Birthday Nupur and that cake looks fabulous with all that chocolaty-goodness.


  16. Belated birthday wishes to V. You are a wonderful wife to make such tasty treats every year. I have a feeling that my V also will love this cake. I will try it sometime.

  17. I don't think that cake looks sloppy at all. In fact, I think it's quite beautiful. Happy Birthday to V!

    And yeah, seriously...14 eggs?!? Yowza...

  18. Happy birthday to V! (I am totally with you on the bowl of potato chips though!)

  19. So, how it you cut into this one? Do you have to separate the layers? If you cut it like, say, a pie, would it topple over / cave in on itself?

  20. I'd take both cake AND chips! A very happy birthday to V and a great year ahead.


  21. I second Anon's prior question. HOW did you cut into this?
    Happy birthday to your guy!

  22. Might be late here .. yet belated wishes to V !!!
    And Delicious looking cake .. sure it tasted better :))

  23. It looks lovely! I much prefer this type of icing to the single-flawless-sheet-of-perfect-butter-cream icing made popular by the silly cake shows on tv. I'd call this a success!

  24. Looks yum! And I checked out your earlier post! Nice tips! Happy Birthday to V! Enjoy the celebration!

  25. Yummy cake Nupur:) Happy b'day to "V".

  26. Happy Birthday to you other half :-) That is one good looking cake and pretty steady at that ht. too!

  27. Wow delicious - thats one lucky birthday boy - hope he had a happy one :)

  28. Wow, that cake looks delicious, and your description in the second last para is so mouthwatering. Belated wishes to V! He is one lucky guy !!

  29. spectacular to say the least! love the title!

  30. A delightful indulgence. Lovely layers and frosting.

  31. indosungod- I managed to keep it steady for the photo session ;)

    Arch- If you like the sloppy look then I am the perfect baker for you :D

    Julie/Julia- Thanks :)

    Priya (Y) M- All that info was new to me too, and it is useful to know!

    Raaga- I hope you get to start baking again soon too.

    Jayasri Ravi- Yup, 14 eggs is a lot but then there's no butter in this cake and it makes a LOT of servings!

    Zibu- Oh that combination of rich custard with chiffon cake was too much!

    Anamika- Thank you for saying that. I do show my love through food, I just hope others see it.

    Priya Sreeram- Thanks :)

    Johanna GGG- I was nervous too, such an eggy cake, but it was great as a once-a-year extravaganza.

    Pavani- It made many many servings though so in the end one person wasn't eating a ton of eggs :) but this is a special treat for sure.

    Manasi- Thanks for the sweet wishes! Dale certainly got his share, the part without the chocolate of course :)

    Amruta- He did love the cake and that's what made it so worth the effort!

    Kelly- Now veganizing this cake would be a challenge but I am sure you of all people can do it (love the cakes on your blog).

    Anjali- Thanks!

  32. Siri- Thank you, my dear!

    Shilpa- LOL thanks for saying that- I just hope my baked treats make up for the moods and drama I subject him to ;)

    mari- yeah, 14 eggs- but well worth it :)

    Kalyn- Thanks! Glad to know you prefer the savory side of life too :)

    Anonymous- I have NO idea how this cake was cut, because V cut it at work and shared it with colleagues :) Glad I was not the one in charge of cutting it.

    Mamatha- Thank you for the sweet wishes!

    Niranjana- No idea how it was cut because they cut it at work, but I did get a couple pieces back and they looked very neatly cut so it was not a total disaster :)

    Kanchan- It tasted fantastic, much to my relief.

    Jonathan- Oh judging by taste alone it was certainly a success!

    SS- Thanks!

    Sharmi- Thank you!

    Soma- I'm glad you think so :)

    Miri- He did enjoy the cake so the birthday was pretty much a success!

    Namita- Thank you so much! I'm the lucky one- he is a wonderful guy.

    Malar Gandhi- Thanks!

    s- Thank you!

    Sanjeeta kk- Indulgence is right!


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