Monday, 29 October 2007

Bostini Cream Pie

It's Daring Bakers time again! Yeap, this months challenge was hosted by the wonderful Mary of Alpineberry and the challenge she chose was a Bostini Cream Pie.

Just like Mary said, there was no typo error. This wasn't a Boston Cream Pie but rather a variation of the same. Now I've heard of a Boston Cream Pie but I've never ever seen one much less tasted one. So telling me that this months challenge was a variation of something I had never seen didn't do me much good. It's like me telling you how wonderful a Durian tastes even though it has a funny smell and looks funny too. If you've never seen a Durian much less tasted one, you would have no clue what I was talking about.

I really must try and stop digressing so much.....

Anyway, I'm the sort of guy that likes to know things. I like to do research and get background information on anything and everything. Other than increasing my general knowledge, I can nod my head knowledgeably whenever someone talks about something. Most importantly, it enables me to filter out the 'pretenders' (read Bullsh*t Artists) from those that actually know something. One thing I dislike is people who pretend to know something when they actually dont.

And so... I turned to the web to research both the Boston Cream Pie as well as the Bostini Cream Pie. This is what I learned:

Firstly, the Boston Cream Pie is more a cake rather than a pie. Basically, it's a sponge cake that is split in half and filled with cream and then covered in chocolate. The lights began to glow in the brain - so this is why donuts with cream filling and covered in chocolate are called Boston Creams!!

So that begat the next question. If it's a cake, why is it called a pie? Apparently, in days of yore, pies and cakes were baked in the same tins. There were no separated cake tins and since pies were baked more frequently than cakes, the baking tins were called pie tins.

So then what has Boston got to do with it?? According to the Joy of Baking

the story began when a New York newspaper in 1855 published a recipe for a 'Pudding Pie Cake'. This recipe was similar to the Boston Cream Pie recipe of today except that it had a powdered sugar topping. From there we go to Boston where a man named Harvey D. Parker opened a restaurant called the Parker House Restaurant. On the menu was a 'Parker House Chocolate Pie', the recipe to which was similar to the New York newspaper recipe except a chocolate glaze had replaced the powdered sugar topping. We are not sure how it was renamed to 'Boston Cream Pie', but Bo Friberg in his book 'The Professional Pastry Chef' thinks "the name stems from the original title (in the New York paper) combined with the reference to Boston."

Now that I was armed with sufficient knowledge of the Boston Cream Pie, I turned my 'research' to the Bostini Cream Pie. This is what I learned:

The dessert is a layer of custard with an orange chiffon cake on top that is then covered with chocolate glaze. Sounds yummy indeed!

The dessert was created by Donna Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni

This dessert was voted by the Food and Wine staff of the Los Angeles Chronicle as the hands-down winning recipe for 1996.

So now, I could nod my head knowledgeably and proceed to make the dessert!

I decided to make the challenge on Saturday 13 October as we were having some friends over for a dinner party. Now would be a good time to mention that my son wakes up extremely early on Saturday mornings. On weekdays, when he has to go to Kindy, there is some grumbling, groaning and general malaise. But on Saturdays, he is up and cheery and often wakes me up as well!

However, on this Saturday I was up bright and early and managed to whisk up the chiffon cake and bake it. I made 8 small cakes in my muffin pan

and the remaining batter went into a log pan.

The cakes turned out lovely - and the smell of orange was strong and filled the kitchen. I had just taken finished removing the cakes out of the oven when my son and daughter came bounding down the stairs into the kitchen.

"Can I help you, Dads?" They both asked almost simultaneously. I'm never one to turn down my kids offer to help and on the contrary, always encourage it. I explained that I had already made the cake and that they could help with the custard. So my son and daughter plonked themselves at the work table and Michael started studying the recipe and reading out what needed to go in.

Next, we measured in the milk and corn flour and Mike blended them all together. He was really serious about it!

Next both kids helped to whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. You can see how much fun Sarah is having with this.

I then sent them packing out of the kitchen as I started to make the custard. I had to use a large cooking pot for the custard since there was quiet a bit of liquid - no surprise really seeing how many eggs were used. The custard cooked up quite easily although a little began to stick on the large pan. In hindsight, I should have cooked the custard in my usual smaller pan, but in two batches. I half filled 6 cocktail glasses with the custard and then let them cool before placing them in the fridge. Interestingly enough, I had never used these cocktail glasses before!

There was a lot of leftover custard so I filled another 2 ramekins as well as a larger bowl and put those in the fridge to chill.

So with the cake done and the custard completed, I took a break before preparing the rest of the dishes for our Dinner Party that night. Part of taking a break included cutting the log and tasting the Orange Chiffon Cake. It was light, it was spongy and it was full of orange goodness. Yummy!

Dinner went off very well and while the guests were enjoying my wife's Pomegranate Shots ala Jamie Oliver, I was busy in the kitchen melting the chocolate and butter.
My son insisted on helping too and he helped stir the chocolate and butter. It was now time to assemble the dessert and serve it.

I placed the cake on top of the custard and it held up. I was afraid that the custard would be too runny but although soft, it still held the cake up. I then poured the chocolate all over the top and carried the dessert out to the awaiting guests.

My wife did the honour of telling the guests what the dessert was called and at the same time doing a plug for the Daring Bakers. Everyone commented how wonderful the dessert looked. As they each took a mouthful, there was nothing but silence....

Then suddenly, there were oohs and ahhs! The combination of flavours was fasciniating and each flavour complemented the other. My daughter was thrilled with the dessert and gave it her seal of approval!

My wife really liked the soft custard and one of our dinner guests requested for a second serving of the custard. I loved the dessert as did everyone else. I mean, really, whats not to like? Chocolate - Good. Orange Cake - Good. Custard - Good! Just put it all together and Aaahhh! What a truly wonderfuly dessert!

The next afternoon, my parents came over for lunch and they had some of the leftover Bostini Cream Pie for dessert. They loved it too. Later that evening, on the way home from dinner, my kids asked if there was any more Bostini. I was actually quite amazed that they remembered the name of the dessert (albeit the abridged name). There was only one bowl of custard left so Michael ate it....

but not without sharing some with his sister...
Brother and Sister enjoying the dessert together

There was still some cake and chocolate glaze leftover and so I pigged out. The chocolate with orange cake reminded me of the Jaffa Cakes (actually more of a biscuit) that I used to enjoy in my student days in Melbourne.

This was a truly satisfying challenge and a lovely dessert to enjoy. Thanks Mary!

If you'd like to see how the rest of the Daring Baker's fared, or if you'd like information on the Daring Bakers, please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll

This is the recipe

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Makes 8 generous servings

3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED: vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter

To prepare the custard:

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:

Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.


steph- whisk/spoon said...

great looking bostini, dharm! i love that your kids help out in the kitchen. they are probably even more excited to try new things knowing they helped!

Butta Buns said...

You're so lucky to have those two adorable little sous chefs! How do you get anything done with all the cuteness around?

The Bostinis look delicious! And so fancy in those glasses, one definitely needs to serve them in a bowl so all that custard can be spooned up!

Claire said...

I have a friend who grew up in Indonesia and she is forever wishing we could get Durian in the states! I've never seen or smelled one, but I hear that the smell is not so appetizing. LOVE that you made this a family much FUN!

DaviMack said...

Awesome looking dessert - I'll take the gleeful looks to mean that it turned out as it should. :)

Annemarie said...

Great post - excellent bit of history of the Boston Cream Pie, and I absolutely love how involved your children got in the making and the eating. And I agree about how magical jaffa cakes are. :)

glamah16 said...

I love your research into the origins of the Boston Cream Pie.What a great dad your kids have . And he bakes!

Anne said...

Great job - and I love the photos of your cute kids! :)

Ilva said...

Yes, children can be useful sometimes! My kids loved the Bostinis too and so did we. Thanks for all the information!

Jenn said...

Great job, and the kids look delighted!

Baking Soda said...

Yes, nodding your head knowledgeably is what it's about Dharm! Glad you let your kids take part!

marye said...

Dharm, yours is so elegant!

Anne said...

such a wonderful post! it looks utterly decadent. you're lucky to have two cute assistants :)

Susan said...

Your helpers are just adorable! The Bostinis aren't bad either ;-)

Brilynn said...

I got sidetracked as soon as you mentioned durian, I've always been curious about trying some but have heard such awful comparions for the smell...

Well done on the DB challenge!

Meeta said...

Oh those kids are far too cute. I love them and the look of their satisfied faces. Nice going on the challenge Dharm!

Brittany said...

Dharm, your bostini is lovely! But what I always love most about your posts is seeing your beautiful children having so much fun in the kitchen. It never fails to make me smile : )

Belinda said...

What a great post, Dharm! And aren't you lucky to have two of the cutest little "Daring Bakers in the making" to lend Dad a hand in the kitchen?! :-) It sounds like your Bostini Cream Pies were a resounding success!

Oh, and I love the notion of "nodding your head knowledgeably" when obscure topics of conversation come up!

Anonymous said...

Kurtis Baguley here,

I am happy you loved the dessert. It's my namesake. Not an easy one to accomplish. It was developed by me at the pre-opening of Scala's Bistro in San Francisco. A Restaurant where Donna Scala was the Chef and I was the Pastry Chef.

I'm curently the Executive Pastry Chef at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Like City


To challenge yourself leads to many rewards.....congratulations

slush said...

Fantastic job!! I love the kids helping. My oldest likes to help as well. Hopefully we are raising future bakers!

Great tinis!

Anh said...

your kids are so lucky to have a dad who bakes wonderful goodies! ;)

Laura said...

It was definitely a group effort in your house! When thay look and taste as good as those do I think they may go down in family history!

Courtney said...

wow those look great and I love how your kids helped out they are so cute. oh and thanks for the info on how they got Boston involved, great blog

Ivonne said...

I can't decide what's cuter ... the bostinis or your kids!

April said...

I smile everytime I see pics of your kids! They are so cute....oh, and the bostini's looked great also!

Mary said...

I find it so heartwarming when children help out in the kitchen. What a lovely post!

Lis said...

I LOVE how you and the kids made this. And speaking of your kids.. could they possibly be any cuter?? :)

hehehee I love your glasses too.. very pretty and so Me! ;) I'm happy everything went well and that you've got yourself yet another fantastic challenge completed! Go Dharm! =)


breadchick said...

Dharm, I always save your posts for when I need a lift and a smile. I love how you always include your kids and family in our challenges. Don't change a thing about how you post! It is perfect, quite like your Bostinis!!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The Parker House Restaurant is also where the Parker House Roll is said to have originated.
You put together one of the simplest and excellent looking Bostini's around! I thought that custard was tricky, had to do it twice.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your Bostini's. Your two sous chefs did a wonderful job in the kitchen with you. My kids just wanted to watch and then eat the dessert.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

BC said...

That moment of silence before the ohhs and ahhs would have had me on tenterhooks. Well done!

Jen Yu said...

Dharm, your kids are just adorable as can be! So great that they wanted to help out too. Great job on your bostinis. What a lucky wife you have :)

-jen at use real butter

Deborah said...

Not only did you get to try something new, but you got a history lesson as well! Great job!!

Andrea said...

Awesome post! Loved the story of making it with your kids, and it seems like your family and the guests loved it! I really is so delicious...

Julie said...

How awesome that your kids helped your make these! The kids and the Bostinis all look lovely. I also really appreciate all the info you posted! I read up a little on the history of the Bostini, then jumped right into the recipe. I hope that doesn't make me a Bullsh*t Artist!

marias23 said...

Again, Michael and Sarah are absolute angels! Isn't baking just magical in how it can bring friends and family together? J'adore!

Quellia said...

Making your challenge with your kids is great! May you have two great cooks in your future!

Christina said...

It's so cool that your kids wanted to help and it looks like they had a fun time helping and eating! Great job with your Bostinis!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Yours looks perfect Dharm! Wow! I love how decadent the chocolate looks pooled ontop of the pie. Great job!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Your children helping baking and especially the thumbs up has got to be the CUTEST!! Great job. :)

Tartelette said...

Great post! Loved the history and research you put in and oh my! your kids are cuter than cute! Your daughter is just adorable and your son looks like a real charmer!! Great job, your Bostinis look perfect!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those pies look wonderful! Nice presentation! Your children seem to have enjoyed that gooey treat!



Dolores said...

I love that every time I read one of your posts, I learn something... often several somethings. And I think it's great that you got your kids involved in making this month's challenge.

I think I feel a special affinity because my dad was the cook and baker in my family, and I spent many evenings as his sous chef (and consequently have excellent knife skills for someone with no formal training). Trust me, you're building life-long memories with and for them in the kitchen. :)

Gabi said...

Dharm- they're so beautiful-both the Bostinis and the kids :)
Nice job!

Peabody said...

I love how you involve your kids. These are great memories they will always have with them.
You all did a wonderful job on your cakes.


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