Over the last several years, Boston Cream Pie has quietly built something akin to a cult following at the Bakehouse. It’s consistently established itself as a favorite among the many cake lovers who come our way!
While the name implies something creamy baked into a pie shell, the reality of Boston Cream Pie is something else altogether. Evan Jones, in his wonderful book American Food, said that it’s “really a cake disguised by this misnomer that remains unexplained.” The dessert’s name comes from an era when cakes and pies were pretty much prepared in the same pans, and the words “cake” and “pie” were used interchangeably. In the late 19th century, sweets like this one were called “cream pies,” or “custard cakes.”
Back in 1856, the then-newly-opened Parker House Hotel in Boston had a chef from France, Augustine Francois Anezin, who developed what we now know as Boston Cream Pie. His technique of pouring chocolate over the top of a custard cake like this was quite an innovation at the time. The moist butter-rich layer cake was then still a relatively new phenomenon in the world of pastry—it was only with the introduction of baking powder 20 years after Anezin worked his magic that they became common even in upscale settings. In December 1996, the state of Massachusetts declared Boston Cream Pie to be the official state dessert.
If you don’t already know it, it’s two layers of moist vanilla chiffon cake, filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream, covered with a lovely thin layer of vanilla butter cream and then last, but not least, rich dark chocolate ganache. Amy Emberling, Bakehouse Managing Partner, writes that, “We love to make classic foods, the ones that have passed the test of time. Boston Cream Pie lands in that category.” I agree. Take one bite and you’ll know why it has a whole state so devoted to it. Goes great with the Peru that we’re serving as the Roaster’s Pick this month!
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In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.
Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.
Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.
One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.
Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.
Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!