Adapted from Boston Cream Pie in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts (Knopf 1985)
Prep: 1 hour | Bake: 30 minutes | Chill: 1 hour | Yield: 8 servings
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pats
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Cake: (Hint: measure out cake ingredients beforehand and follow cake instructions carefully.)
- Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″ round cake pan. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit bottom of cake pan and place in pan. Grease parchment paper, then flour pan. Set aside.
- Sift flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of mixer and beat on high until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed and gradually beat in 1/3 cup of the sugar. Increase the speed to high and continue (very briefly) beating until whites hold peak. Set aside.
- Place egg yolks in another bowl. Beat yolks just a moment to combine. Gradually beat in remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until mixture becomes very pale (almost white) yellow. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla, then reduce speed to low and beat in cold water.
- In 4 additions, gently fold egg yolks into egg whites – just to combine – do not over-stir the mixture.
- Place the sifted flour and baking soda in a hand sifter and in 4 additions re-sift into the egg mixture, gently folding after each addition.
- Add the melted butter and gently fold into the batter until barely incorporated – do not fully incorporate butter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Cake is done when top springs back when gently touched with fingertip. Remove from oven and place cake on cooling rack. Run knife around edges to release cake, then allow cake to cool for 5 minutes in pan. Place another cooling rack over the top of the cake and flip over to release cake from pan. Do not remove parchment paper. Place the first cooling rack back over the cake and flip the cake over again. (The cake will cool right side up with parchment paper still attached to bottom of cake.) Allow the cake to cool completely. Then wrap cake in plastic wrap or foil (do not remove parchment paper) and place in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. While cake is chilling, prepare vanilla custard.
- Set aside a medium-size bowl for cooling the prepared custard. Cut out a circle from a piece of parchment paper to fit the top of the bowl. Set aside with bowl.
- In a medium bowl, beat eggs just to mix. Set aside.
- Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in a heavy saucepan. Slowly, stir in the milk, then set heat to medium-low and stir constantly until mixture comes to gentle boil and thickens. Continue stirring until mixture thickens for an additional minute or two.
- Remove mixture from heat. In three additions, add about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture at a time to the eggs. Stirring to mix after each addition. Then, while stirring constantly, stir the egg mixture into the saucepan of remaining hot milk mixture.
- Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, almond extract and melted butter.
- Immediately pour mixture into the medium bowl that was set aside in step 1, and gently lay the parchment circle directly over the custard. This prevents a skin from forming over the custard. Allow bowl to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place custard in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
- Remove chilled cake from refrigerator. Unwrap cake and place cake upside down on serving plate. Remove the parchment paper (should be on top now) from the cake. Using a long thin knife (I used my ham knife) carefully cut the cake into 2 layers. Carefully remove the top layer.
- Remove the chilled custard from the refrigerator and spoon out onto the bottom cake layer. With a long, narrow baker’s spatula, spread the custard to 1/2″ from the edge of the cake. Cover the cake with the top layer, then refrigerate the cake while you prepare the ganache.
- In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream over medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Stir in the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is partially melted. Remove from heat and continue stirring until chocolate has melted and is fully incorporated into the cream.
- Pour ganache into a bowl and allow it to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove assembled cake from refrigerator and pour the ganache over the cake, then with long, narrow baker’s spatula, smooth the ganache just to the edge of the cake. Refrigerate cake and serve cold.