Also known more familiarly as Boston Cream Pie, I just like calling it a “custard cake” better. Which is exactly what it is, by the way. In Anne Byrn’s American Cake book, she relates that historians classified it that way, and that it was “fashioned after a jelly-filled Washington Pie (Cake).” (And an interesting article that provides some history of the Washington Pie.) Which looks almost the same as a Victoria Sandwich, still my favorite sponge cake…but I digress!
This particular custard cake always makes me think of my younger brother. When we were kids, I just remember that he learned how to make it just so he could eat it. Apparently my mom just didn’t make it enough for his liking!
This is the first time I’ve made this cake in years, and I kept it the same, classic flavors – vanilla sponge, vanilla custard, chocolate glaze. Why mess with a good thing?
I used Anne Byrn’s recipe this time, though I found in looking at a number of recipes, there are minor variations to the ratios depending on whose recipe it is.
I also used the Norpro mini cheesecake pan, with 12 holes that are each 1.5″ across. This pan is becoming my fast favorite for mini cakes, as the bottom of each cup is removable. You do have to keep track of the bottoms, though – they’ve almost fallen into my garbage disposal once when cleaning! – but I love how much easier it is to remove my cakes with removable bottoms.
A word about pan prep – I know I probably overdo it, but I almost always prepare my cake tins with butter, flour, and parchment paper. Cakes just come out cleanly every time, and there’s something satisfying about peeling off the parchment from the baked cake. Even with mini cakes.
This cake is so easy – sift the dry ingredients together, a hand mixer brings it all together easily starting with the wet ingredients. Finish by alternating the milk and dry ingredients, beating enough at each stage to get a little fluffiness into the mix.
For mini-cakes, it only takes a little batter, basically a heaping tablespoonful for this tin. If you fill the cups any more than three quarters full, you’ll end up with the cake baking up over the cups, and then you just have to cut off the extra so they sit evenly on the plate (at least, that’s what I do when I want them to look a little more “posh”!). Not that much of what I make is posh; I think finesse is probably one of the hardest things to do.
And when baked….
I thought the sponge was great, though I ended up with some holes in the finished product that I wasn’t expecting. It may have been because I added an extra egg, which I only did because the eggs I had were a bit small and I figured the batter might need it. But I’d stick with the two in the recipe next time.
I took the easy way out and did not make my own custard this time. We have this great baking store in the area, Over the Top Cake Supplies, which sells premade fillings, and this was my perfect opportunity to try their Bavarian Cream filling.
A little bit of chocolate glaze on the top and you’ve got yourself a lovely little cake for afternoon tea, or just whenever. The corn syrup in the glaze adds that lovely shine to it, and adding a little vanilla makes it more than just chocolate.
So I won’t include the custard filling recipe from American Cake here since I didn’t actually make it. However, I found there’s a Youtube video where Anne makes the custard on TV, so check it out. But for a few more suggestions for recipes, try this one, or this one. Or America’s Test Kitchen is always good too.
Mini Boston Custard Cakes
- Butter, flour and parchment for prepping the pans
- 1 1/2 c. sifted cake flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. sale
- 1/3 c. unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
- 3/4 c. granulated or caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1/2 c. whole milk, room temp
- 2 c. vanilla custard or Bavarian cream – premade or use your favorite recipe
- 3/4 c. chopped semisweet chocolate
- 3 Tbsp. heavy cream (I used half ‘n half and that worked too)
- 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
DirectionsPreheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit, and prepare your baking tin – grease and flour the mini-cups; use parchment if you wish, but it’s not necessary.
Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and vanilla with a hand mixer until combined, about 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually, beating well on medium high speed until the mixture is creamy and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each one.
Finally, add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the wet mixture, beating until incorporated and smooth. For mini cakes, take a heaping tablespoonful and fill each cup. If you want to make one large cake, fill two 8-inch round tins, dividing the batter evenly between the pans.
Bakes the cakes until lightly golden brown and when they begin to pull away from the sides of the tin. For mini-cakes, this is 13-15 minutes; for one large cake, bake 18-22 minutes.
Place the pan(s) on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin. If necessary, run a knife around the sides of the cakes to make it possible to remove from the tin (I didn’t need this for the mini cakes using the Norpro cheesecake tin).
To assemble the cake, cut your mini-cakes in half; you may trim off the excess that bakes up over the cups to ensure they can sit level on a plate. Spoon or use a pastry bag to place the filling in the middle until it just reaches the edge of the bottom half. Cover with the top half, then refrigerate until you apply the glaze.
To make the glaze, put the chocolate, cream (or half ‘n half), and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until it melts and is smooth. When the chocolate has melted, pull the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, and stir until smooth.
Apply to the mini-cakes by spooning the glaze over the top, and letting it drip down the sides. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before serving (or slicing, if you have made one 8-inch cake). Chill until it’s time to serve the cake.
And that’s about it…a toast to brothers everywhere for the memories and the great ideas for afternoon tea!