A breakfast version of a Boston Cream Pie, that’s also gluten free and completely vegan.
A Boston Cream Pie is basically a cake that said, ‘Hey world, I’m a pie!’
And today I have a baked oatmeal pretending to be a cake that’s masquerading as a pie. It’s a weird world.
Why is a Boston Cream Pie called a pie? The most likely explanation is that in the 19th Century pie and cake pans were used interchangeably, and the original Boston Cream Pies were probably baked in pie tins.
The Boston Cream Pie is usually attributed to a French man named Sanzian, the first chef of the Boston Parker House Hotel (now called the Omni Parker House Hotel). Sanzian is thought to have created a fancy version of cake-pie in 1856, which was coated with toasted almonds and topped with chocolate fondant. However, this version of events is disputed.
The dessert was originally called a Chocolate Cream Pie or a Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie. At some stage – it’s unclear when exactly – the name was changed to Boston Cream Pie. You know what’s really weird? The name ‘Boston Cream Cakes’ emerged in a cookbook in 1879. How did we go from pie to cake and back to pie?
By the way, are there any fans of bread rolls out there? Guess what else the Parker House Hotel is famous for?
Since the ol’ 19th Century, Boston Cream Pies have pretty much been turned into everything that isn’t a pie. Cupcakes, muffins, doughnuts, pancakes, cookies… and so on.
So today I’m bringing oatmeal to the cake-pie party. To make things even more confusing, everything in this recipe is vegan. But if you just happen to have some authentic French crème patisserie hanging around, then (a) well done! and (b) feel free to use that for the filling.
As I wasn’t about to make an pastry cream, I came up with a vegan maple custard instead. I have some more notes about that at the end of this post.
If making any kind of custardy filling sounds like more effort than you’re willing to put into a baked oatmeal, then I have several solutions for you! Instead of the maple custard filling, use:
- Yogurt (a sweet yogurt, nothing sour!)
- Instant pudding
- Chia pudding
- Melted white chocolate
Heck, you could even mash a banana and call it a day. What’s the oatmeal cake-pie going to do?
But if you’re interested, I’ll tell you about this vegan maple custard. My thinking was this: cornstarch (cornflour) is the main ingredient in custard powder and instant pudding, so it should make custard, right? Right! It just needs the help of some maple syrup, vanilla bean paste and almond milk.
When it’s hot, the custard has a thick but pourable consistency. Once cool, it becomes much thicker (just like regular custard does). You can make the filling in advance and store it in the fridge. To ensure the cooled custard is smooth and not lumpy, whisk it like crazy. You can whisk it with a fork – there’s no need for the fancy equipment – just whisk it really well.
Personally, I like to microwave the cooled custard for 30 seconds or so before spreading it onto the baked oatmeal. Which totally goes against tradition. But, you know, I figured at this stage tradition has walked out the door and boarded a plane to Botswana.
While the custard filling can be replaced with other things, there’s one thing I’m going to be picky about: the chocolate. Seriously, don’t leave off the melted chocolate!
Did you know?: The Boston Cream Pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts.
- For the maple custard filling
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup almond milk
For the baked oatmeal
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon butter extract
- ⅔ cup almond milk
- 1 - 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- Good pinch of salt
- Melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate
- Make the filling: In a small saucepan (off the heat), whisk together the cornstarch, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, and heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk in ½ cup of almond milk, and then whisk in the remaining ½ cup.
- Cook for approximately 10 - 15 minutes, whisking often, or until the mixture has thickened and resembles a pourable custard. If the custard isn’t thickening, stop whisking and leave it for a few minutes. If the custard is bubbling too much (and is at risk of over-boiling), turn down the heat and keep whisking.
- Once the custard is ready, set aside to cool. While the custard can be used immediately, it thickens considerably as it cools (creating more of a ‘crème’ consistency). The custard can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.
- Make the baked oatmeal: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two ramekins.
- In a medium-sized or large bowl, combine the applesauce, vanilla extract, butter extract, almond milk and maple syrup (if using).
- Add the rolled oats, baking powder and salt, and mix until well combined.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared ramekins. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the tops are dry and a little firm. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then remove each baked oatmeal from its ramekin.
- Carefully slice the baked oatmeals in half (this can be tricky). Cover the bottom halves with as much filling as desired. Top with the other halves.
- To finish of the ‘pies’, drizzle or spread over plenty of melted chocolate. Enjoy!
This recipe makes ~3/4 cup of custard, which is probably more than you'll need for this recipe.
If making the custard in advance, whisk it really well so it's smooth and not lumpy. I also like to reheat the custard in the microwave for about 30 seconds (this also helps get rid of lumps).
If you can't find (vegan) butter extract, either omit it or substitute extra vanilla extract.