Jan. 23 marked National Pie Day. Missed it. Jan. 27 was National Chocolate Cake Day. Missed that, too. Oh, the shame.
But making amends could not be more delicious. Nothing says "happy belated National Pie and Chocolate Cake days" like a Boston cream pie. As anyone who has ever eaten one knows, it is not really a pie, but a cake. It's not a chocolate cake, either, though it is covered in chocolate.
Boston cream pie, historians tell us, probably had its origins in a British confection called custard cake. The thinking is that the dessert was called a pie because, in early times, cake tins were rare and it was baked in a pie plate.
In 1856, the chef at Boston's Parker House hotel (birthplace of the Parker House roll) served a "pudding cake pie." He iced it with chocolate and called itParker House Cream Pie. Over time, presumably due to its association with one of the most famous hotels in Bean Town, the name evolved into Boston cream pie. In 1996, the Boston cream pie was named the official dessert of Massachusetts.
A recipe for Boston cream pie (and Parker House rolls) can be found on the Omni Parker House website. But check out this one from "Perfect Pies" by Michele Stuart (Ballantine Books, 2011). Stuart, who owns two Michele's Pies bakeries in Connecticut, writes that Boston cream pie is one of the most requested in her bakeries. Try it and you'll see why.
Amends made. To coin a phrase: "Let them eat pie-cake."
Note: The cake and filling need to cool completely before you can assemble the pie. Plan ahead.
BOSTON CREAM PIE
For the cake:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup water
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the icing:
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
For the (optional) garnish:
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie pan.
Make the cake: In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.