The icing on the cake. Literally.

Well, you sexy beast. I bet you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself, aren’t you? You should be. There’s just one teeny tiny thing left to do to crown your cake in glory. I’m going to apologise in advance for my final pictures. It’s not a delicate attractive cake like wot I usually make. It’s a bit of a hulking brute. My excuse is it was a Monday afternoon extravagance, not a proper weekend cake. Anyway. Bring on the ganache.

Ganache ingredients
150ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate

1. You are going to be so, so excited when you see how easy this is.

2. Put it all in a pan.

3. Heat.

Did you just die a bit of excitement? I did. Glorious.

Now, you just spread your creme patissiere thickly on the top of one of the cakes:

My cake looks very flat here. It wasn’t. Must be a dodgy angle. Hmm…a camera angle that makes things look smaller than they are….I must experiment with that….

Then just spread your ganache on top. And take a huge slice out:

Honestly, I do apologise for this rather unattractive looking cake. It tastes delicious, I can assure you, and I’ll be making up for it this weekend with a Passionfruit and Lemon Curd layer cake, as well as other lovelies. Enjoy!

Putting the ‘cream’ in ‘Boston Cream Pie’

I promised fun stuff, and here it is. Let’s start with our Creme Patissiere. Wait! Don’t run away! It’s only a fancy sort of way of saying custard. Come back!! It’s NICE custard, I promise.

Creme Patissiere Ingredients
125ml milk (I used skimmed. You are master of your domain and may do as you please)
125ml double cream
1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour

 1. Pop the milk and cream into a saucepan. (Easy. I PROMISE, the fancy custard is not as scary as it sounds). Now, take your vanilla pod – I’m assuming you’re not a corner-cutting lazy person, mentioning no names *DELIA SMITH* – and are indeed using a lovely vanilla pod. If you don’t, you won’t have the exquisite pleasure of sliding your knife in and gently but firmly scraping all those delicious vanilla-y specks out, creating the most gorgeous looking concoction in the pan. Once you go pod, you never go…well, back.

2. Now. Here is the only tricky part. You are going to bring this mixture to the boil. Sounds easy enough? Hey! You! Step away from that knob! Don’t be crazy – you can’t just boil this up like a pan of water. Scalded milk and cream with vanilla dots does not a gourmet custard make. You must be gentle. You must caress this creamy nectar. You must heat it up SLOWLY. So start it on a low heat setting, then gently slide up the heat to medium, and no more. Nigella says none of this by the way – she just says ‘heat it up’. But, blessed as she may be in the face department, she doesn’t care a jot about actually doing things properly, so I am explaining it all clearly for you. You can thank me later. Preferably with a slice of your delicious cake.

3. Once your mixture has just started to bubble, you must quickly rescue it from the heat. You are the knight in shining armour to your creme patissiere’s damsel in distress. Quick! Take if off! And cover it with a lid, and leave to infuse for 10 minutes (just as you’d treat a real damsel in distress.)

4. While it infuses away, turn to the next part, which is your egg base. You need to separate egg and yolk, and drop the yolks into a bowl. Then, beat together with your sugar until it forms a creamy mixture, then add the flour.

5. Now for the old switcheroo. Pour your infused cream into your egg mixture and cream together. Also remove your vanilla pod. Definitely don’t leave that hanging around. THEN pour this whole mixture back into the pan and heat and whisk until it forms your custard. It needs to be thick enough to sit nicely in the middle of your cake and not flop. Floppy custard is not an option.

Well done you! You survived posh custard! Next post will be the final component…the chocolate ganache…

Boston Cream Pie a la Nigella

So, as I’m not really a cake person (apart from tiny cupcakes, which are a whole different kettle of…tea), and also as someone who likes a challenge, I thought I’d have a crack at a Boston cream pie. For those in the know, it’s not a pie at all – it’s actually a layer cake with creme patissiere in the middle, and a bitter chocolate ganache on top. I’m breaking my blog down into two posts, one for the cakey part, and one for the topping and filling.

Sponge ingredients:
225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
25g cornflour
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 x 21cm sandwich tins (about 5cm deep), buttered

The cake is a simple Victoria sponge recipe. Nigella (the charlatan) advocates just shoving everything in a food processor and mixing. Calls herself a domestic goddess…If you have a glorious Kitchenaid mixer, then go for it. If not, use the following method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4. I used loose-bottomed tins (laugh it up…baking is joyful). I also lined the bottoms with parchment paper, but you can butter them up to your heart’s content if you so wish.

2. This is where dearest Nige shoves it all in a processor, so if you’re feeling suitably lazy, do that right now. ALTERNATIVELY, cream the butter and sugar together until very smooth. It MUST be super smooth, a baby-bottomy consistency. Any roughness at this stage will impede the eventual lightness and fluffiness of your sponge, and that simply wouldn’t do at all.

3. Now. This is the crucial stage. Add your vanilla, and then one egg. Beat for between 1 and 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of flour and beat again. Add egg number two and repeat. Same with eggs number three and four. You MUST beat for a considerable amount of time after each egg. This is what will add air to the cake and eliminate any heavy, dry, styrofoam texture that puts you in mind of your lovely but inept grandmother’s teatime efforts.

4. You should now have a pale cream mixture that feels slightly stiff. Add as much milk as you think you need. (It shouldn’t be a huge amount)

5. Divide your mixture in two and pour into the two tins. Pop in the oven for around 25 minutes. Do keep vigilant. It would be simply criminal for anything to go wrong after all your hard work. Your masterpiece should turn golden brown and start to come very slightly away from the sides of the tin. Other signs of readiness should be a ‘springy’ texture when you lightly press a finger down on top of the cake. Slip a cake tester in and if it comes out clean, you’re in business.

6. Take them out of the oven and leave for 10 minutes. Then turn them out of their tins and leave to cool.

7. Now onto the fun bit. See the next post!