The first part of the year is birthday season in my family. My birthday in January, then both of my parents in February, then my sister in March. My brother- and mother-in-law also have birthdays in the early part of the year. We used to have a separate birthday dinner for each person, but in recent years we’ve decided to double up or combine celebrations to accommodate many people’s schedules (and basketball season).
This year, my parents and I (and Bill and Caelan) got together to celebrate my birthday (4 weeks late), my dad’s birthday (1 week late), and my mom’s birthday (1 week early). I wanted to make a cake, but since mine was one of the birthdays that we’d be celebrating, I decided to go with just a “cake” rather than a “birthday cake”.
Boston Cream donuts are my favorite and I’d never tried to make a whole pie before, but this seemed like a good time to give it a shot. I made a half-assed attempt at Boston Cream cupcakes awhile back, but this time I used an actual recipe and made real pastry cream. Or attempted to do so.
I made the pastry cream (I used the recipe from this post on Annie’s Eats) the night before I was going to assemble the cake and put it in the fridge overnight. I was disappointed the next day to find that it didn’t set up and was unusable. The pastry cream is essentially a custard and custards are definitely tricky, but I’ve made them many times before (in the form of crème brûlée) and was successful. Anyway, I didn’t have time to risk another attempt (and I’m not sure exactly where I went wrong), so I looked around my kitchen for something to improvise with and I came up with a mixture of french vanilla pudding mix, milk, Cool Whip, and a tiny bit of vanilla extract. It was passable (though actually less so after being chilled).
Then I made the frosting (dark chocolate ganache) and though I’ve made it several times before, I had issues with this too! It was too thick to spread so I kept adding half-and-half to make it manageable.
The cake tasted good (though I’m less and less enamored with that recipe the more I make it – I should try a new yellow cake recipe) but it wasn’t a real Boston Cream pie. So it looks like I will be making a 3rd attempt at this at some point because I really want to get this one right!!