Bavarian cream. Photo by Massimiliano
November 27th is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day.
Bavarian cream is a 19th century creation that seems to have gone with the wind that closed out the 20th. We rarely see it on a menu or in a bake shop.
Invention of the cold molded, gelatin-based dessert—a custard, not a pie—is credited to the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) in the first part of the 1800s. One of the first recipes in the U.S. appeared in the Boston Cooking School of 1884.
The connection with Bavaria is obscure; although Carême cooked for the rich and famous and it is conceivable that he may have created this dish for a guest of honor from Bavaria.
The original Bavarian cream, or crème bavarois, was created in a fluted mold, chilled, umolded and sliced. In these more informal days, the dessert can be scooped from the bowl like mousse.
Sometimes the mold is first coated with a fruit gelatin, which “glazed” the Bavarian cream. Sometimes it is flavored with chocolate, coffee, fruit or liqueur.
The mold can be first lined with ladyfingers first, creating a charlotte.
Individual servings can be garnished with whipped cream (Chantilly) or fruit purée. Here’s a recipe for Bavarian cream from Chef Michael Symon.
Bavarian cream is similar to pastry cream but lightened with whipped cream and thickened with gelatin instead of flour or cornstarch. Check out the different types of custard.
For Bavarian Cream Pie, get a pie crust: Bavarian cream in a pie crust is simply a different type of custard pie. And note: Real Bavarian cream does not pipe smoothly because of its gelatin. In the U.S., products called “Bavarian cream” pie (and doughnuts) are actually filled with a version of a crème pâtissière (pastry cream)—so they’re “faux” Bavarian Cream Pie.