One of the hazards of keeping a blog going for almost 5 years is that you start forgetting what you’ve already posted and run out of ideas for new things to write about. Maybe I should start learning how to bake recipes made famous by the French, Italians and Greeks. The recipes I’ve been playing with lately are certainly more complex than I usually post but I’m trying to improve my skills.
You may have noticed that I have started including a few personal posts in amongst the recipe posts and I find that I really enjoy sharing just a “normal life” post with you instead of feeling obligated to include a recipe. What do you think? Do you like these posts or should I rather stick to recipes?
Like most writers, I am horrified by the quality of my older posts. I had so much to learn when I started blogging and I’d like to believe that there is a vast improvement in what I write today vs how I posted 3 years ago. I am my own most vicious critic to the point where I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much I still need to learn and grow.
Boston Cream Pie revisited
When I looked at a post I did about Boston Cream Pie in 2012, I cringed at the quality of the writing as well as the horror of having “copied and pasted” the recipe. I haven’t made that mistake in so long that I had forgotten that I did that in the beginning. I was so tempted to delete that post and replace it with this one but I think it is a good comparison and reminder about how much I have evolved since then. I think I’ll leave it there to encourage me that I am actually improving.
I used the same custard recipe as posted in the previous post but I went out of my way to find an awesome sponge cake recipe that would really make this cake a show stopper. Back when I started baking, one of the first cakes I taught myself to make was an old fashioned, Hot Milk Sponge and this is what I want to share with you today. Remember, you want to make the custard and the ganache before you start baking the cake so that everything has enough time to cool down. You could even make these two components the night before so that you have enough time to assemble everything and chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours so that everything sets before serving.
Boston Cream Pie
125ml muscovado sugar (divided)
5 large, free range egg yolks
45ml cornflour (Maizena)
500ml full cream milk
1 vanilla bean
60g butter, cut into small cubes
Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Place seeds in a medium bowl together with your 5 the egg yolks and 60ml of the sugar. Whisk briefly to combine sugar and egg. Set aside.
Heat milk and the remaining 60ml sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the empty bean pod in the milk to infuse the milk with vanilla flavour. Stir the milk gently until the sugar has dissolved and it has almost reached boiling point.
Carefully add half the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to temper the egg. Add the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and return to the heat. Stir continuously until the custard is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter one piece at a time until each piece has melted before adding the next one. Transfer into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure you press the plastic wrap down onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
125ml fresh cream
250g dark chocolate
Heat cream to boiling point in the microwave (about 2 minutes at 100% power). Chop chocolate up roughly and place into the hot cream. Allow to stand for 2 minutes before stirring gently until smooth and glossy. Set aside until cool, stirring every 10 minutes. If the chocolate sets up before you use it, place it in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds at 60% power. Stir again until smooth before using it to top the cake.
4 large, free range eggs
500ml white sugar
5ml vanilla extract
560ml cake flour
15ml baking powder
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare two large cake pans with non stick spray or butter. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper. Set aside.
Place eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat well until light yellow in colour and thickened. Add vanilla extract and beat well.
Combine milk and butter in a heat proof bowl and heat for 4 minutes in the microwave at 100% power until the butter has melted. Stir well and keep aside.
Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture. Set stand mixer to lowest setting and mix gently until combined. Slowly add hot milk to the cake batter and mix well until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of flour left behind. Mix briefly on medium speed until the batter is well combined.
Divide batter between 2 prepped cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (rotating the pans after 20 minutes). Use a toothpick or clean knife to check if the cakes are done by inserting the toothpick/knife into the center of the cake. If the knife still shows signs of wet cake batter, return cakes to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the cakes are done.
Set cake pans onto a cooling rack and wait 10 minutes before carefully turning the cakes out. Carefully remove baking paper from the bottom of the cakes and cool completely before putting the cake together.
Level the tops of the cake and slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have 4 sponge cake layers. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and top with about 125ml of the custard. Place the next layer on top and repeat until you have stacked the 4 layers together. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.
Once the custard is sufficiently chilled and the tower of cakes seems stable, remove from the fridge and carefully top with the chocolate ganache. Allow cake to stand and ganache to set for about 1 hour before serving.