It all started Saturday. This is the night we reserve for "getting-our-money's-worth-out-of-that-cable- subscription-we-sometimes-regret-having" (and we don't even have HBO, 'kay?). Inevitably we find ourselves oogling the "food" stuff--and then, finally we land on Food Network options (they're free, well sorta). Bobby Flay had a Boston Cream Pie Throwdown. So we both agreed, we needed to see this.
Boston. Cream. Pie. Old, old recipe. A throwback from the kitchens of a Yankee. Who knew? Most of my favorite cakes are Southern in nature. I even own a cookbook: Southern Cakes. I haven't come across a "Northern Cakes" cookbook. For some reason, the north is not known for its cakes. So Boston can lay claim to one cake. Good for them.
For me, this whole BCP episode brought back memories of the one thing I recalled loving about this pie/cake: I thought of the cream, then the chocolate and finally, the cake part. Two things are wrong with this picture. One, chocolate is not first. And, two, cake is last! It was the pastry cream--THAT's what I loved about it! Well, here it was. I was now facing my own throwdown. I now wanted Boston Cream Pie. Now. So late Saturday night, (around eight--close to bed time!) I began my baking challenge.
I turned to the internet first. What type of cake would be best? It had to have some sort of depth because all that cream had to be crammed into the center of it. I, of course, went to the Food Network site to check out the winning recipe post for the BCP--not all who commented were quite happy with their own home version of the winner's recipe (a bakery owner in Boston). One person's review went so far as to say they had begun their cake making at one in the afternoon, finally finishing the cake at seven that night! Six hours. Really? Given I wanted this cake in the next hour and half or so, that recipe would simply not do. Then I began thumbing through my ever-growing collection of pastry/baking cookbooks, trying to decipher which BCP cake recipe would suffice. Of all the books I have, the one I felt most confident about trying to vegan-ize was: The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook. *If I ever begin a second paid career and have the sudden urge to flee the Midwest, I think this is where I'd love to work! Flour, sugar, yeast--all day, every day?
My second challenge was figuring out the filling part. If you search for "vegan pastry cream"--there's a seemingly good recipe or two out there. There is one in which a person who posted a recipe apparently did not credit where they'd originally found it--or maybe they just didn't know another existed. That's an uncomfortable spot to find your food blogging self in, trust me. (Unless you just landed here from another planet, really.) All food stuff is practically a riff on someone else's design. It's the nature of cooking. Can you imagine a world without chocolate chip cookies? You get my point.
My cream filling I decided to try was my own I had adapted once. A while back I made vegan cannolis. I remembered that getting a pastry cream filling for this recipe as being a bit of a challenge. And in all honesty, the consistency of the filling as I remember it for the BCP was more of a "pudding-like" texture. Allow me to explain something here. If you happen to have just become a vegan, you'll discover very quickly that some things are just not to be. Like cheesecake. Or pudding (the kind with the skin on it). Or omelettes. You just move on and say good-bye, (for good reason!) to certain things you may fondly remember, but will NEVER be able to replicate (as your taste buds remember them) cruelty free. Sure, I can make a mean frittata--an almost-omelette--with a vegan's best friend: nutritional yeast. But cheesecake. Never, ever again. And please do not email me with "Oh you haven't tried so-and-so's vegan cheesecake". I probably have and it probably made me cry it was so bad.
My cream filling needed to have a not-so-sweet taste that it hurts your teeth. It needed creaminess. I took my own recipe and added sour cream--until I felt the consistency matched pretty darn close to what I personally knew I wanted my BCP filling to have. (You may have other ideas about how you want your filling to be. If that is the case, perhaps you will want to search for that vegan version I mentioned earlier.)
Overall, we've had this cake now twice this week. We ate the first one in two nights! The second one I whipped up last night because DH has been out of town and I felt we just were not able to enjoy this cake properly the first time around. So, it's been tested twice now. And, as you all know, I love a slice of cake for breakfast with my coffee, after my oatmeal. (That is what I call a Power Breakfast!) Store this cake in the fridge over night, but know that you can have a piece while the cake is warm. I just happen to think it tastes better cold. I adapted the King Arthur Boston Cream Pie recipe by making the following changes: in place of eggs, I used Ener-G Egg Replacer, in place of milk, I used unsweetened almond milk, in place of superfine sugar, I took Florida Crytals sugar and ran it through my food processor to get the superfine baking sugar quality you'd have if you'd purchase the non-vegan friendly baking sugar. Then, I added an eighth of a teaspoon of imitation butter flavoring to the cake batter. I then made changes to their excellent chocolate glaze recipe in the book by using vegan chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut milk--save the leftovers, and then re-heat in the microwave for pouring over your piece of cake the next day. Pure cake love!
Vegan Boston Cream Pie
*The cake and glaze part adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch (I guess you could use arrowroot if you'd like)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (at room temperature)
1 cup Florida Crystals sugar (blended in the food processor for about 15 seconds to get it finer)
4 tablespoons unsalted vegetable margerine
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract
4 1/2 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons room temp. water (equiv. of 3 eggs)
3 tablespoons canola oil
Vegan Pastry Cream
5 tablespoons unsalted vegetable margerine
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons soy powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons tofu sour cream
Vegan Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup vegan unsweetened coconut creamer
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9" cake pan with non-stick baking spray, then cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the cake pan with--and then spray the paper, too. Set aside. Next, sift together the flour, baking powder and cornstarch and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl (I did not use my KitchenAid for this--the old hand held is better for this cake)--add the margerine, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond and butter extracts and beat together until all light and fluffy. About a minute. Next, add the oil and Egg Replacer to this mixture, mix until well incorporated. Now, add a third of the flour mixture to this, then half the milk--mix until nearly smooth--a few lumps are fine, then add another third of flour and the second half of the milk--again, mix until nearly smooth, finally adding the last bit of flour--then mix for two minutes until the batter is light and smooth. Pour into pan and smooth top of batter with a spatula. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. The cake will have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the cake pan for about 20 minutes. Then, invert the cake--carefully--onto a cooling rack--top side up. Keep the parchment paper attached--it's fine. After another ten minutes or so, you will split the cake in half. There are plenty of ways to do this illustrated on the internet. I invite you to find whichever one works best for you. I used a large serrated knife, turning the cake, turning the cake until I had worked all the way through my layer. Then I carefully lifted the top half of the cake off with a bench scraper--and placed it on another cake rack, crumb side down.
While the cake is baking, you can work on both the pastry cream and the chocolate glaze. For the pastry cream: place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and blend on low until creamy and smooth. *You may want to start off with just 2 tablespoons of sour cream, then taste. You may like more, this is a flexible recipe. See what consistency and taste you like best.
For the chocolate glaze. Place the corn syrup and milk in a small pot. Heat just until little bubbles come up around the edge. Remove from heat. Immediately add the chocolate chips and the rest of the ingredients. Whisk well until the mixture is nice and smooth.
To assemble the pie/cake. Top the split cake with the cream--spreading it to just about a half inch from the edges. Then place the cut half of cake on top. Now, add the chocolate cream. Just pour it over the cake and allow some of that good stuff to drip down the sides. You can cut the cake right away, or you can wait and chill it over night. The top of the cake has split on me both times I've made it--but so what! It was still amazingly delish! Store in an airtight cake keeper in the fridge for about three days.