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.
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.
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