...and cream and butter and chocolate. That must mean that the Daring Bakers are back once again. Who are we? Well, we're an online community of bakers who, once a month, receive a recipe chosen by that month's host, make the recipe without modifications (unless allowed by the host), and then blog about the experience on the same day. By following the same recipe, we have a good basis for comparing our results and we get to flex our baking muscles. Our group is now about 200 members strong and we even have a separate blog just to list the links to the participants' blogs!
my how we've grown
I had the honor of hosting this month's challenge. It was difficult to pick just a single recipe. There are too many great recipes and just not enough time. My first inclination was to choose something totally challenging. Something that would require days in the kitchen, ya' know, like the Tartine croissant challenge in January. I joined the group in February so I missed that one. Of course I could go ahead and make the croissants on my own just so I can empathize with the 7 ladies who toiled in butter and flour for days, but it's so much easier to just pop over to Tartine Bakery. I'm a bit of a lazy baker so I chickened out and chose a recipe that was relatively straight forward but still included some technical elements that home bakers should try.
It's the end of October so I decided to go with something that had the colors of Halloween (orange and black). I chose Bostini cream pie. No, it's not a typo. Bostini cream pie, like the name implies, is a twist on a traditional Boston cream pie (which is a vanilla layer cake filled with cream and topped with chocolate glaze). The Bostini cream pie is vanilla bean pastry cream topped with an orange chiffon cake and then drizzled with a rich chocolate glaze.
The recipe is from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni in the Napa Valley and Scala's Bistro in San Francisco and was published many years ago in the local newspaper. A dinner at Scala's Bistro just isn't complete without having a Bostini for dessert. I wanted to try making this treat at home and dug up the recipe.
When I first read the recipe I was really surprised that the chocolate glaze was just equal parts butter and chocolate. I always assumed the pastry chef had some secret sauce. Nope, it turns out that it was just Valrhona chocolate and butter. Just a warning, do not use salted butter. I did a small test batch with salted butter and it was gross.
I love the combination of orange and chocolate. The orange chiffon cake was so light, spongy, and airy. Just like chiffon cake should be. And it was oh so citrusy. I used a combination of tangelos and valencia oranges for my zest and juice. Freshly squeezed juice really makes a different in the flavor. I've tried it with Odwalla brand bottled "fresh" juice and it wasn't as flavorful.
The recipe called it custard but it's really more like a pastry cream. I've made a lot of different pastry creams before, but this vanilla bean pastry cream / custard was a bit scary because it required 10 egg yolks, just 1 egg white, and almost a whole quart of heavy cream! The pastry was scary delicious but really, really super-duper rich. Next time I would use a less rich pastry cream or even a silky baked custard. This dessert is not everyday fare, but fun for special occasions. I plan on making this during the upcoming holidays.
And, by the way, if you're keeping track, the whole recipe required 14 eggs, 1 quart of heavy cream, some whole milk, half a pound of butter, half a pound of chocolate, half a pound of sugar and a smidge of oil. At least there was some fruit involved.
I've already had a preview of a few of the incredible Bostinis the other Daring Bakers have made, but I can't wait to see the creative plating and how everyone felt about the recipe. So please head over to our blogroll, visit the other talented DBers' blogs, and see their Bostini cream pies for yourself!
Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
(makes 8 generous servings)
Custard (Pastry Cream)
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 (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
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
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
To prepare the custard (pastry cream):
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.
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.
I baked my chiffon cake in muffin pans with 3.5 fluid ounce capacity wells. Instead of using custard cups or ramekins for the custard/pastry cream, I used small ceramic pie dishes (about 4-inch diameter across the top).