I’m not sure anyone knows why Boston Cream Pie is called pie. It is a cake whose elements are similar to a cream puff. Talk about an identity crisis! I think of it as the granddaddy of the now popular “naked cake,” which is pretty cool (hip to be square and all that.)
While the Boston Cream Pie is a simple and elegant looking CAKE, there are a few things that make it cumbersome to eat. For one thing, the filling is billowy pastry cream (not firm buttercream frosting), so it tends to squish out when you cut it. This makes for a disappointing presentation. And secondly, because it isn’t frosted on the sides, the cake dries out pretty quickly.
When I came across Flo Braker’s recipe, in which the whole pie/cake was constructed in a large trifle bowl, I realized a solution was at hand. Genius! Beautiful! Her presentation preserves the look of the cake and keeps the exposed sides moist. However, once you scoop out a portion and plop it on a plate, it is still kind of messy.
While working in restaurants, I liked to serve individual trifles in martini glasses. I cut cake into cubes and layered the cubes with pastry cream and berries — or sabayon and peaches –and topped the dessert with barely-whipped cream. It was pretty and easy to eat. I thought of trying the same thing with Boston Cream Pie elements, but quickly decided that one of the appeals of the dessert is the distinct round layers of cake, pastry cream and chocolate. Cubed cake pieces were not going to work. So I went on a search for small, stemmed, straight sided glasses. Miniature trifle bowls exist, are not hard to find, and are exactly right for this Boston Cream Pie redux. I found mine for next-to-nothing at the Crate and Barrel outlet store in my town.
For this dessert I use Emily Luchetti’s “Vanilla Genoise,” which, incidentally, is not technically a genoise. I use it for layer cakes of all sizes and shapes and for trifles. I call it Trifle Cake. It is moist, delicious, easy to cut, and an excellent cake to have in your repertoire. For the glaze, I use Flo Braker’s Chocolate Butter Glaze. The salted chocolate shard decorations are from Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Baking Chez Moi.
Good team work ladies, even though I’m the only one who knows in was a group effort.