Bostini Cream Pie...Do I Dare?

It’s that time of the month again when I stretch my baking muscle as far as someone else’s imagination can take it. And though I await the new challenge with tummy-trembling nervousness, the excitement (and learning) makes it all worth it. It’s Daring Baker time again and (whew!) I made it!

This month’s challenge was thought up by Mary of AlpineberryBostini Cream Pie. A twist on the traditional Boston Cream Pie, the Bostini is made up of a vanilla custard, orange chiffon cake, and topped with a rich chocolate sauce (original recipe here). Right off the bat I felt the tummy twist and I knew right away what would be the biggest challenge here…the chiffon.

Chiffon cake? Oh no! Amateur baker that I am I have never made chiffon cake in my life. Or maybe I did but the outcome was just so far from something you would call chiffon that I just blocked it from my memory. I have always preferred eating desserts you would refer to as “dense” and “chewy”, not “light” and “airy” – and I think the reason is because I can be a complete heavy-handed ogre, never producing anything “fluffy” no matter how much I wanted to.

Well, it looked like it was finally time to step up and try.

Learning from past experience I decided to cut the recipe down to reduce the amount of people I had to ply with my baking experiments. Also because, as sophisticated as my family (I decided to make it for a family lunch) can be in certain aspects, the orange-chocolate combination was not one of them. I know. Anyway, through some weird fit of misled logic (math is not my strong suit), I made one third of the custard recipe but used the whole chiffon recipe. Hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser.

Because the recipe stated that the custard was quite soft I decided to serve it layered in a glass. I figured this would make for an easier assembly, at the same time highlighting the layers in this dessert. I made the custard a day before, poured them into the glasses (this made seven of the glasses you see in the photo), covered each glass with clingflim, and placed them in the fridge to set. Then I set about licking the pan clean because this custard was over the top delicious! Whew, step one down.

Step two -- the dreaded chiffon. My plan was to make the chiffon in two regular pans, instead of individual smaller ones, and then cut them into circles after they were baked. I stirred the batter, whipped the egg whites (with fervent prayers to the kitchen gods), and gingerly blended the two. I greased my pans (I used one 9-inch round and one 8-inch round) and poured in the batter. Stuck them in the oven and crossed my fingers. When the cakes were done I pulled them out to cool. They certainly didn’t look like they had angel’s wings on them but they didn’t seem half bad. Until the time came to remove them from the pan. Criminy. They were stuck.

Ack! My whole father’s side was coming over and I had stuck cakes! And there was still the lamb and the beans and the roasted vegetables to get to. So I stood there for a couple of nerve-wracking moments while my brain went “bzzt-bzzt”. Finally I gave myself a little slap on the tush (try it! It really stretches your arms!), pulled myself together, and attacked the pans with one of the empty glasses – cutting out the circles of cake that would go over the custard, and prying them out one by one with my fingers. Wayward chiffon…you are not the boss of me!!!

Hah! Through iron will and determination I had enough passably decent circles of chiffon to work with. Passably decent because, not only did they show a bit of the wear for having been forcibly removed from the pan, the cake had this mysterious dense-gummy layer at the bottom. People: if you know what I did wrong and what can help, please feel free to enlighten me!

Sniffing like a hurt child, I took a bite of the cake…my eyes widened…not bad! Take away the gummy layer and the fact that it stuck to the bottom of the pan, and the cake was actually…light, airy, fluffy, with a beguiling whisper of orange. I had somewhat done it! I had somewhat made a chiffon!

After all the chiffon-drama, it was only a matter of making the chocolate glaze (I halved the recipe), pushing the cake circles onto the custard in the glasses, and topping with the chocolate. And proudly taking them into the dining room like it was the easiest thing in the world to whip up :)

Everyone enjoyed the dessert and had only praises for it. Yes, even after I firmly told them that this was a project for my baking group and that they needed to give me their objective opinion. Even my brother, who does not like chocolate with orange at all, thought it was perfect – saying that the amount of orange flavor was just right and that you could tell that it was really called for.

What did I learn from this challenge:
- Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking paper and grease it.
- Find a way to get rid of that gummy layer (perhaps I didn’t mix the egg whites and the batter thoroughly enough?)
- I can somewhat make a chiffon cake :)
- When there’s a will there’s a way!
- Desserts in glasses rock!
- My brother is more sophisticated than I thought ;)

Check out the other Daring Bakers and their Bostini Cream Pies!