One of the most defining dish when it comes to, you know, American original deserts is Boston Cream Pie. For the people who heard of it for the first time, it is a butter cake filled with custard or cream — and topped with chocolate ganache.
Wait a minute. Did I say cake? No, I mean, I did say it is a cake, right? Then why it’s called a pie then? A pie that is a cake yet it is called a pie because it resembles a pie, although it is a cake. Still, people call it a pie, albeit being a cake. I’m confused right now.
Wait, wait, WAIT! Then who in this mortal plane named it as a pie then even though it is a cake. As long as it is tasty and goes well with my coffee, then I can accept that.
You read it right, Boston Cream Pie has this, you know, somewhat weird name on it although it is a cake. You see, back in the old days, an Armenian-French chef named M. Sanzian created this dish. At the famous Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. Chef Sanzian originally made this with two layers of yellow cake. Which, still up to this day, is a defining characteristic of the pie, or cake. A layer of pastry cream is sandwiched between these two cakes and glazed with chocolate ganache. The original version has a rum glaze brushed on the cake and covered with slivered almonds along its sides, symbolizing its French origin.
The Mystery Behind The Name
Nobody knows who started this confusing name. And it is widely speculated back then, that this cake is baked in pie tins. Baked together with other pies, and often mistaken as pie as well. With this, it is a common practice that the word “pie” and “cake” were interchangeably used for this cake or pie.
In 1872, the name “Chocolate Cream Pie” appeared in the 1872 Methodist Almanac. Also, early prints of the term appeared in the Granite Iron Ware Cook Book, which printed six years later.
Well, the first people who used the term got away with it. And it sticks now not just in the minds of the locals, but also in the history of Massachusetts. I mean, that mystery in its name adds to its charms. And together with its excellent texture and delightful taste.
The Indifferent Relationship Between Washington Pie
If you are not confused enough yet, let’s add another cake with the same situation as the Boston Cream Pie. We already know what a Boston Cream pie is – or cake. I humbly present you, the Washington pie, or cake, whatever. (Come on, it is as tasty as the former, and I don’t care what its name, because I love it!)
Washington pie is a filled cake. I know, I know, it is confusing right, but hear me out first.
This masterpiece of a pie, or cake, is almost identical to Boston Cream pie, but with just a few differences. First, Boston Cream Pie is only two layers, while Washington Pie, is four. And second, Boston Cream Pie has a chocolate glaze on top. While, Washington Pie, usually served with fresh fruits on top.
There is this excerpt in the White House Cookbook about the original recipe for Washington Pie. And it goes like this, “…A great summer dessert and it is a good practice to make this pie a day before serving. It should be served chilled, and to get that, one should wrap this pie in a paper. Placed it in an ice box until it gets frigid. For serving, top it with fresh strawberry slices and raspberries. A very delightful dessert”. Yes, a delightful dessert indeed.
So, if you are wondering what Boston Cream Pie has to do with Washington Pie, well. They are both victims of false naming. These false naming added another layer of mystique. And charm to these beautiful and delicious pies, or cakes.
To sum it all up, nobody cares if Boston Cream Pie is a pie or a cake. For in the end, what makes us love them is not how they got their names. But how delightful and delicious they are, whether being a pie, or a cake.