Tell me about custard filling recipes, please!

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday. I’ve just baked a two-layer chocolate cake for him that I’ll eventually cut in half to end up with four layers. The resulting split surfaces are getting a good smear of raspberry preserves, and the very top will get a chocolate glaze. But I want the very middle to have a custard or Bavarian cream-type filling. Actually, that’s what my mom wants, but I agree with her that it sounds like a really good idea, sort of like the doughnut cakes from Helena’s doughnut shop The Donut Hole.*

I’m pretty good at making lemon curd, and I’ve made puddings and custards before, but never one for a cake filling. I know I want a recipe that stays pretty thick at cake-serving temperatures, and isn’t too sweet, without a too-prominent vanilla flavoring. I want it support the flavor of the chocolate, not overwhelm it.

The plan right now is to grab a random recipe off the internet for the filling, but I just realized that random recipes just aren’t as nice as a recipe that is Doper-approved. So does anyone have a favorite recipe for a thick custard or Bavarian creme?

*I don’t think I’ve ever written the word “doughnut” three times in one sentence before, with variant spelling to boot!

I would recommend looking for recipes for “pastry cream” rather than custard or pudding- with that many layers it’s going to smush out the sides pretty badly under the weight of the cake. Pastry cream has some cornstarch in it, so it’s a bit thicker. Still, you may want to make a recipe of buttercream and pipe a sort of a dam around the outer edge of each cake layer and then fill in with the pastry cream. I speak from experience: it will keep your cake from listing dramatically to one side much like the Tower of Pisa! Are you frosting the whole thing? Put a thin coating of buttercream frosting all over the cake and pop it in the freezer for about an hour (this is called a “crumb coat”). Then take it out and frost it all over, but more thickly this time. My cakes got a lot better and more beautiful when I started sucking it up and making twice the amount of frosting I thought I’d need.

Good luck with your cake, let us know how it comes out! It sounds yummy…

Pastry cream. Check! I’ll be Googling that come morning if no recipes are posted in the thread by the time I wake up.

There won’t be real frosting on the cake, just some chocolate glaze thrown on the top and allowed to dribble down the sides all willy-nilly. (If you can’t have something be all willy-nilly on your birthday, it’s just no fun at all, I think!) It’s not applicable to the laziness that is a puddle of chocolate glaze, but crumb coat is one of the few cake-making tricks I actually know (the list stands at “cool it before you frost it”, crumb coat, toothpicks as markers for the half-way up point of a layer that’s being split, dowels to support large cakes, and poking holes to pour over a glaze or caramel) but thank you for the advice anyway!

I’m really hoping the cake turns out delicious; it’s the first cake I’ve ever actually turned out of pan, or will split, fill, and glaze. I usually just make chocolate cakes with chunks of ginger or chocolate, that are more like sweet rich quick breads than an actual cake.