Thursday, September 15, 2011

Boston Creme Pie...and the Worst Birthday Ever!

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It was a bad one alright.  It was a doozie.  It was La catastrophe. We declared my husband's birthday "The Worst Birthday Ever".

It started with his elation over the 3 day Labor Day celebration.  For once, the weather forecast predicted rain - heavenly drops of relieving rain!  That meant temps in the low '90's.  That's sweater weather around these southern counties.  

Three-day weekend.  Cooler temps.  This was going to be IT.  Patrick was going to dismember his (new) car and situate a thumping  sound system that would  vibrate with a click.  My husband is mechanically-minded thru and thru.  This was to be like Christmas and birthday - all good and wonderful times that make one stupendously blithe.

Did he do it?  Yep. 

And... Nope.

There were wires everywhere.  Teeny tiny wires that wrap hither and thither were everywhere.  He was excited and enthusiastic...hopeful and passionate.  

First the lack of rain was a shame;  thus, no breezes could be gained

Rain clouds  reversed direction and skittered around Houston like a woman holding her skirts up, running through puddles in frightened disaffection.

As he expended a  stream of sweat, I siphoned a unremitting flow of sugary lime-flavored water to steady it.
(my husband doesn't drink plain water...ew...says he.)

Going on day Three, he was huffing and puffing.  Temps soared into the  mid-90's as if it were nothing.   

At half past five, he declared that the sound system was wired and alive!  

Oh the joy!  Oh the triumph over all things mechanically contrived!


When the key was turned to ignite the fire...  the situation suddenly and abruptly grew quite dire.

The look on his face was of sheer panic and horror..
{...I'm so sorry was comical...sorta}.  

If I were to characterize it, this is how I would describe it - like a child, who has made it all the way to the center of the tootsie roll pop with a discover, in  a scene now turned quite droll, that there is no tootsie roll

He poked.  He prodded.  He begged.  He cried (o.k., he didn't cry it was just all that sweat).  There was nothing I could do but look helplessly on and listen earnestly for a little bit of gas to detonate a little bit of spark with a little wisp of air so that engine would start!

He clasped head in hands with anguish, he concluded with perturbation that he was a disgrace to civilization!

So...what does a food blogger do when facing such indignation?  

Go  inside to make a Boston Creme Pie and hope for salvation!

Trouble, in its persnickety guise, stalked me right into the kitchen only to unleash what was certainly not contrition .  

That darn cake.  It was a fright. Nothing came out right.  The chocolate ganache was too thin and trite.  The cakes didn't rise to heights of beauty; nary a contest could they win and would only receive a wry grin.  The custard filling was delicious but not quite the creaminess that would describe it as beautitious.  

Now it would really be the worst birthday ever.  

The dreaded tow truck was summoned.  Someone's head swung down as low as it could go.  The baby {I} is now at the hospital.  Doctors are repairing the tiny wire,  nicked with the drill, thus not producing any fire.

The birthday boy {I} enjoyed his cake as consolation.  I sat there sulking; looking over  my culinary creation with definite consternation.

No tunes were thumping.  Despair hung thickly in the air.  Another recipe must be found.  Oh, this household looked like nothing but one big frown.

Boston Creme Pie for The Worst Birthday Ever
(adapted from the Martha Stewart website)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for pan
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Pastry Cream Filling for Boston Cream Pie Pastry Cream Filling for Boston Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Don't forget to line the bottom too.  Butter parchment, and sprinkle with sugar (Snippet's Notes:  I sprinkled it with sugar but I didn't care for the slight crunch on the cake) , tapping out excess; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and egg yolks on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk and butter until hot in a small saucepan over medium heat; being careful not to boil the milk. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. With mixer still running, slowly add hot milk to egg mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving the cake bottom-side up. Let cool completely. (Snippet's Notes:  my cakes came out rather flat.  Until I try the recipe again, I can't recommend this cake recipe very highly)

Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour cream over chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and well combined. (Snippet's Notes:  Mine was too thin.  I ended up adding more chocolate to get the desired consistency) Set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

To assemble cake: Remove pastry cream from refrigerator. Beat with a stiff whisk until cream is smooth. Split cake in two even layers; spread bottom half with the pastry cream filling. Top with remaining layer. Pour glaze over center of cake, allowing it to spread, covering top and dripping down the sides. Chill cake for 20 minutes before serving.


  1. so sorry about all the things that went wrong!

    but the pie looks...amazing!! :)

  2. I had to laugh, but I really shouldn't have....such a great post!
    Your poor man...what a shame. I hope all is well soon and the wires
    are connecting in all the right places in no time.

    As for the had me at Boston Cream Pie and it still looks delicious to my eye. Saying that, you are not the first to comment on one of Martha's recipes, I have heard it before. Never fear... I have a feeling you will have it sorted in not time.

    Oh dear, I may be talking like this all year...I think you started something Sarah!

    Here is to tomorrow!!

    Jeanne xxx

  3. Oh my, where to start! The poetic lament was such fun to read---and the very things that you say went wrong with your cake are the things I loved about it when I saw the photo. I love that it's elegantly thin and that the glaze drips over the edge. I often think of Boston Cream Pie as too thick and spongy for my taste. Yours looks perfect!!!
    ps I voted for you and you moved up a notch---good luck

  4. Well after all that, things are bound to be better. So sorry that things went awry, but we all move on to something better. Have a better day!

  5. Oh no, sorry the weekend didn't go as planned! The cake looks delicious though. Boston cream pie is a big favorite in my house.

  6. Sweet post - so sorry it all went wrong but things do that sometimes. One thing goes wrong and then it's like a pack of cards coming down. I had made Boston cream pie once. Those things are so finicky. I had trouble with my filling. I remember it just wouldn't set and I had the pie swimming in a pool of filling. Not good but it still tasted delish :)

  7. Found your comment over at French Essence and I was intrigued by your blog name, so I had to pop in.

    So how did the birthday cake taste in the end... in spite of all the mishaps?

    Funny thing how stuff connects us. I just posted about having a little segment on my blog re the 'snippets' of life... and here I find your blog with snippets as your theme!

    Always love that serendipity....

  8. I can't stop laughing - your poetic post is awesome in light of such hair-pulling indignation. Sorry to make light of your plight dear :)

    But the cake does look delish despite the 'runny' ganache and what have you. Here's to a brighter tommorrow that surely rises.

    chow :) Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  9. Dear oh dear...the both of you had a pitiful time of it, didn't you?! I'm so sorry...but! there is the silver lining of having a wonderful story to tell...and the adventure of trying to perfect 'another' Boston Cream Pie, how can that be a bad thing?
    Hope your hubby's baby is feeling better soon...and Happy Belated to him!
    Hugs to both of you, and baby!
    xo J~

  10. That pie looks amazing!!!! Sorry things didn't go well with the car....but I think at least for those few moments of pie consumption, your husband felt a tiny bit better.

  11. Some birthdays are just like that. One year I had the "great" idea of going to the movies for my husband's birthday. A Meryl Streep movie had just opened and it was "Sophie's Choice." What was I thinking. Not exactly a joyous film. We were so depressed that we couldn't even go out to dinner. Loved your story.

  12. You've spun straw into gold!! You've transformed the worst birthday ever into art. Extraordinary - all of it!! And - a belated happy birthday to your hubbie!!!


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