Our niece Lynn was awarded her bachelor’s degree today with a double major in molecular biology and biochemistry. She’s following in the footsteps of Dr. Science, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, decided he didn’t want to be a chemist, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, and then went to graduate school for the PhD in molecular biology. Lynn’s path is more efficient, I think.
I got out of sitting through the ceremony by offering to put on a little party. It’s just family, but I’m taking the opportunity to go a little overboard. Lynn really likes Boston cream pie, so that’s obvious, and she’s seen a few of the photos of the French-style fruit tarts and suggested that one of those would be good. I’ve also wanted to try (yet again) Sherry Yard’s fruit curd method, so I made a batch of lime curd.
My problem with using the double-boiler method for the curd is that the steam seeps out from the saucepan and burns my fingers. Next time I’m going to see if there’s any harm in just cooking the curd right in the saucepan. It’d certainly be safer. It turned out really well. I didn’t add butter to the lime curd, and it’s very lime-y. That went into a spelt crust:
I made ahead as much as I could at home and brought it along: the tart crusts and the Boston cream pie cake base, the chocolate glaze for the Boston cream pie, and the lime curd. While everyone else was sitting through the ceremony, I made a batch of pastry cream, and when it was cool enough I used some in the fruit tart:
Then I made up the rum syrup for brushing the cake and tried to split the cake. The cake was a disaster. I have no idea what happened. It was very cakey, and not in a good way. Fortunately I had several hours, my own equipment, most of the ingredients, and the pie plate.
On the KAF recipe site, I found a recipe for a basic yellow cake. I had eggs and butter left over from the pastry cream, and Lynn had flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder but no milk, only soy milk. I ran out to the convenience store a few blocks away and bought a pint of milk, and by the time I got back, my ingredients were at room temperature. The instructions call for an electric mixer, but I got it all mixed by hand with my sturdy wire whip. The whole time I was making the batter I was feeling like it was a good thing I have some idea of what I’m doing, even as I hoped that this cake would turn out. The instructions want you to mix the dry ingredients, then add the butter and mix that in the electric mixer to a sandy consistency; I did that with my hands, just like pâte sablée. The milk and eggs went in okay, and I just hoped I was mixing them enough. I have memories of troubleshooting charts that identify the cause of various cake disasters as “undermixing.” The cake took a little longer to bake than they said it would, but it turned out fine. Whew!
After the cake cooled, I split the cake, brushed on the rum syrup, filled the cake with pastry cream, and glazed it with the chocolate glaze I had made up at home: