the boston cream pie

I’m writing this post to say thank you. Thank you for your tweets, your notes, your well wishes and all you have done to support Boston and New England in its hour of need. It means more than you know. Suffice it to say, I’m remarkably proud of the city of Boston, and how everyone responded to the tragic events that unfolded on Patriot’s Day (Marathon Monday) and the days that followed.

louisburg
beacon hill

 

As you know, native New Englanders, on the whole, are generally more reserved in their behavior than people from other regions of the United States. As someone on Twitter recently said about New Englanders, “They won’t necessarily bring you a pie when you move in but they’ll be the first people to help you when your car breaks down.” Generally speaking, this is true and it is precisely what we saw last week.

 

 

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In the face of unspeakable violence, we saw people putting their own lives at risk to help the wounded. We saw people finish a 26 mile marathon only to run another 2 miles to the hospital to donate blood and in one case, perform surgery. We saw people open their homes and businesses to those in who needed shelter. We saw people make the decision to stay inside so that law enforcement could do it’s job.

 

boston pie sliced
first bite of pie

 

As most of you know, America got it’s start in Massachusetts. Much of what defines New Englanders as a people comes from the early American struggle. Defining characteristics such as hard work, self-reliance and resiliency shape who we are today. Because of this, we were not for an instant about to give up our way of life over last Monday. On the contrary.

While the events unfolded and the roller coaster of emotions began, I was deeply concerned for friends, neighbors and those in the direct line of violence. Not for one moment was I concerned about the ability of Boston to rebound.

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Millions of people around the world think of Boston as their home. Three hundred thousand people commute into the city daily. More than 100 colleges and universities welcome over 250 thousand students from around the world each year. Boston is the largest city in New England and residents all over the region embrace the city as their own.  Moreover, 10 million seek out it’s museums and attractions every year and 30 thousand athletes from over 90 countries attended the Boston Marathon this year alone.

In fact, many of you, from as far away as Australia, have written to me to let me know that you went to school here, that you fell in love here or that you spent the best years of your life here. Did anyone really think we were going to let terrorism take that way? Please.

boston cream pie w plates
slice of boston pie
bite of boston pie

 

 

So when you see the phrase ‘Boston Strong’, know that it’s about more than regional pride. Know that it’s a testament to the courage and strength every community has when it pulls together with a spirit of kindness and love for the greater good. One quote from Martin Luther King has been circulated a great deal this week, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” Despite whatever political posturing you hear over the coming months, remember that that is true.

In the spirit of the love and compassion that emerged from this tragic event, I hope you join me in donating to The One Fund, set up by the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston, to help the families and victims as they repair and rebuild their lives.

Thanks again for all of your support. See you at next year’s marathon.

Bostonians pour into streets after capture of suspect.

 

 

 

 

The recipe below is the official dessert of Massachusetts. It was invented at the Parker House in Boston (also where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie). It’s called a pie because in colonial times there were no cake pans, just pie tins. It also happens to be my all time favorite. I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

Boston Cream Pie (Adapted from Chef Bo Friberg)

Cake Base

4 (1/2 c or 120 ml) egg whites
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) half and half
4 c (455 g) cake flour
2 1/4 c (455 g) sugar
3 tsp (16 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 g) salt
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
23 1/2 tbs (340 g) melted unsalted butter
1 whole egg

Grease and flour two 9” or 10″ pie pans.

2. Stir together the egg whites and one third of the half and half.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the vanilla, melted butter, remaining 2/3 of half and half and the whole egg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, Beat at high speed for a 2-3 minutes. Gradually stir in the egg white mixture and mix until combined. Divide between cake pans.

5. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when you press it lightly with your finger.

When cake cools, remove from cake pans. Level off the tops by cutting of the tops with a serrated knife. Divide each layer in half so you have four layers. Brush each base layer with rum syrup.

 

Rum Syrup

1/4 c (60 ml) dark rum or Grand Marnier
1/4 c (60 ml) water
2 tbs. sugar

Combine all ingredients. Cook until sugar is dissolved, then simmer gently an additional 2-3 minutes.

 

Pastry Cream

2 c (273 ml) whole milk
3 tbs (30 g) cornstarch
1/4 c plus 1 tsp (115 g) sugar
a pinch of salt (1 g) salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla extract
4 tbs (55 g) unsalted butter
1/2 c (120 ml) heavy cream

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cornstarch, sugar and salt together with a fork until well-blended. Using the whisk attachment, add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.

2. Boil the milk.

3. Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly as not to cook the eggs. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan and stir.

4. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Quickly stir in the vanilla and the butter.

5. Pour into a bowl to cool and cover with waxed paper to prevent skin from forming.

6. When completely cool, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream until peaks form and fold into the pastry cream. Refrigerate.

 

Chocolate glaze

3 1/2 c (455 g) dark chocolate
10 tbs (140 g) unsalted butter
1/4 c plus 1 tbs (40 g) cocoa powder
1/4 c (60 ml) rum or grand marinier
3/4 c (180 ml) corn syrup

Make the chocolate glaze after the cake chills. Cool slightly. Add additional corn syrup or alcohol to thin the glaze to your taste.

1. Chop and melt the chocolate. Add the butter and stir until blended.
2. Stir in the cocoa powder. Stir in the corn syrup and alcohol.
If glaze hardens, heat in microwave until desired consistency is achieved.

Sliced, toasted almonds are optional.

 

Assembly

Level off top of cakes with serrated knife
Divide each cake into 2 layers, making a 4 layer cake
Brush off crumbs
Brush base layers of cake with rum syrup.
Divide pastry/ whipped cream filling between each of the cake base layers
Use an offset spatula to spread the cream filling almost to the edge
Assemble cake
Press down gently so that the cream comes to the sides
Chill until firm
Top with chocolate.
Press toasted almond slices against the sides of the cake
Chill and remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving


Bon Appetit!



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37 Comments
  1. This brought tears to my eyes. i follow you on Twitter and your tweets last week were inspiring. Thank you for sharing your pride out loud for all the world to see. You don’t just represent New England and Boston, you represent this entire country!

  2. I’ve never tried the cake before but it looks amazing. You have to know this reduced me to tears. I love Boston and could not believe what happened there last week. We were devastated. Thank you soooo much for this post!

  3. I should be thanking you. My wife and I started following you on Twitter after the attack. Thanks for all the info and for keeping up our spirits. Stay bostonstrong.

  4. You’ve captured the resolute independent character that defines Boston. The way people came together is a testament to the strength of the community and its people.

    The Boston pie cake looks and sounds amazing! This is one recipe that I’ll definitely be saving for a special occasion.

  5. El, I can’t think of a better way to begin the healing, to help with the understanding. Boston Cream Pie has always been a favorite, just as Boston has had a special place in my heart (like many). I send wishes of comfort and strength.

  6. How great to celebrate Boston with food. There is no better way. Most people have such a terrible idea of Boston Cream Pie– blechy nasty stuff that lives in plastic cases made with powdered milk and egg. This sets the record straight and is a great take on a classic.
    This will bring a smile to a Boston face. Bravo.

  7. Best post ever. I’m so glad the craziness last week ended swiftly.

    This “pie” has so many happy memories for me. When I was little, my extended family of Italian New Yorkers would schlep to the beaches on Long Island every weekend in the summer, and my Zia Pina always made a Boston Cream Pie, which is a totally weird thing to bring to the beach. 🙂 Thanks for the memories!

  8. Best post ever. I’m so glad the craziness last week ended swiftly. Sending wishes for a speedy recovery to everyone affected.

    This “pie” has so many happy memories for me. When I was little, my extended family of Italian New Yorkers would schlep to the beaches on Long Island every weekend in the summer, and my Zia Pina always made a Boston Cream Pie, which is a totally weird thing to bring to the beach. Not one spec of Bostonian in any of us, so I can’t find the connection. 🙂 Thanks for the memories!

  9. I’m a regular lurker but I’ve never posted before. Just had to say that I’m all ready for work, makeup and all… but now I have to re do the makeup ‘cuz it’s all smeared. Thanks for being such an incredible role model.

  10. I was really shocked and dismayed by what happened in Boston. I visited a few years back and it’s a beautiful city. This is a great tribute and the cake looks so much better than the boston cp I’ve seen in the stores. Glad you’re okay.

  11. What a wonderful post, El! It has been such a surreal experience watching the story unfold. I hope one day we understand it all.

    I guess I didn’t realize how close to Boston you actually lived. This is one of those times we we all feel like we live in Boston and want to be strong too.

    How perfect that you made Boston Cream Pie! That was one of the very first things I learned to bake as a preteen. I found the recipe and made the whole thing all by myself 🙂 It is such a delicious dessert.

  12. I’ve never had Boston cream pie (I live in Australia), but this certainly looks so delicious.

    It’s such a tragedy that innocent lives are gone, and injured. I’ve never been to Boston but I am still wanting to.It looks like such a beautiful city, and from what I’ve heard, the people are extremely friendly around there.

  13. HUGS El! Having lived through many bombings in India, I can understand how you feel, the helplessness and frustration and yet the spirit to pick up and move forward!

    And the cake is just the perfect ode to the city’s spirit! <3

  14. Gorgeous fluffy cake, El. I never new Boston Cream Pie was supposed to look so good >only seen the crappy kind in the supermarket. I’ll have to try out the recipe for my husband’s birthday next week. It was absolutely unbelievable what happened in Boston. Disgusting, upsetting and infuriating. I really appreciate this testimonial to such a great city. The way your community responded was inspirational. Made me want to go out and do random acts of kindness!

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