I was a long-time lurker on many DB sites because I didn't think I could hack it. In particular, when they attempted Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake in April 2007, I just about resigned myself to being a silent fan.
However, the lure of being able to improve my craft was great. I knew that being part of DB means moving out of my comfort zone. Finally, I mustered enough courage to take on this month's challenge, the Bostini Cream Pie.
Mary, our gracious hostess for this month's challenge, has the full recipe on her blog. Her site Alpineberry features elegant recipes and gorgeous photos, and I am an avid reader. The Bostini was the top recipe in 1996 and "maybe for the entire 20 years" according to The San Francisco Chronicle. In case you missed the nutritional info at the bottom of that article, I'm repeating it here –
Per serving: 1,170 calories, 15 g protein, 75 g carbohydrate, 93 g fat (50 g saturated), 561 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Let me assure you though that this dessert is as decadent as its calorie count! The vanilla custard is deliriously wonderful, and then to pair it with rich chocolate is just... well... toe-curlingly good.
The cake base is an orange-flavoured chiffon baked in a heart-shaped mold. Having made foam-based cakes before (see my génoise), I was not as nervous in tackling this recipe. For those inclined, Baking 911 has excellent info on chiffon cakes. A step-by-step tutorial article is available to registered forum members.
My vanilla custard, which in this recipe has the consistency of crème anglaise, was a different story. Valuable lesson: boiling cream can be dangerous. Once the cream reaches a certain temperature, it will foam and expand rapidly. Turning off the stove will not stop the process once its already going. There is a real potential for burns and an actual messy stove.
I like to work with a lot of heat when on the stove. British thermal units and I are tight. When cooking, I always hear myself saying, "more BTUs, more BTUs." Manifestly not good for boiling cream or making custard. This helpful article from Baking 911 states, "when any custard is made on the stove top, it must be cooked slowly, taking at least 10 minutes." Because of my impatience, the custard curdled slightly. After straining through a fine-mesh sieve none would be the wiser quality and taste-wise, though I must have lost ten percent of the custard.
I urge you to check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll and be sure to see everyone's renditions of the Bostini. It's about challenge as much as it is about camaraderie. This is not at all like that clique of high-strung bakers at the office who turn the yearly cookie exchange into a cut-throat event. Quite the opposite. The support is effusive and the environment friendly. This is why I am proud to display on my blog this badge of honour:
Some random notes ~
- The Rake Magazine has a fascinating essay about the closet beginnings of the chiffon cake.
- I used only a quarter of the recipe with no deleterious effects (usually, cake recipes do not take well to being divided more than half).
- The recipe in full calls for about 13 egg yolks. For an easy way to do this, see this video from Dyann Bakes (hit play then move slider to halfway).
- A more open-textured chiffon can be achieved if only the bottom of the baking pan is greased, and if it is inverted over something tall while the cake cools in it.