Vanilla Pud and . . . Sewing Machines. Of Course.

comments: 59


Tomorrow is Andy's birthday! He has requested a Boston Cream Pie. Coincidentally, I had a quart of organic whole milk already in the fridge, due to expire today. I'd bought it to make some homemade vanilla pudding. When I was clipping all my magazine pages over the past couple of weeks, I had snipped a recipe from a recent issue of Country Living magazine for it. This is my version of theirs.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

3 1/2 c organic whole milk
6 egg yolks
3 T cornstarch
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla bean paste
1 T butter

Heat the milk until just simmering in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the egg yoks, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together until thick and yellow. Stream the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously (it helps to have someone else holding the bowl while you pour the hot milk and whisk). Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat until pudding thickens and just begins to boil (this will only take a couple of minutes). Transfer to a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla bean paste and butter. Cool to set, about two hours. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Turns out, when I Googled a Boston Cream Pie recipe, this one from Country Living came up — from the same article that I clipped the pudding from. Why didn't I clip the BCP? I should have a recipe for this — Andy has asked for it several times and I'm always scurrying around trying to put one together. I don't care for chocolate ganache or chocolate frostings, myself, but I will make it for him because I'm cool like that. And he's 37.

The sky this afternoon is literally the color of gauze. And it feels like gauze — there's mist in the air, and everything is damp and webby. I've been sewing all week, making more Tanglewood Bags, working out the various kinks in the pattern. It's not picturesque, the sewing, hence all the food pictures lately. The studio looks like I sprayed it with fabric scraps and nets of thread. In answer to several questions I've gotten, unfortunately no, the Tanglewood Bag is not really a beginner's project. Of course, I always think beginners should just dive in, and be inspired by things you really love, and then learn on the things you love — but this bag has a lot going on, and needs precision for it to look really sharp. That said, precision usually just means patience and practice and a willing attitude, so, you know. You can do that. Slow and steady.

Also, just a head's up if you are going to give making it a try (and I will be producing a pattern for this, as well as a kit, though the kit will take a while before it's available, as the binding needs to be special ordered from France, and they tell me this will take several weeks, and some of the fabric is coming from New Zealand, and that's on its way), you should make sure that your sewing machine has quite a bit of clearance under its free arm — when you remove the extension table (as if to sew around the cuff of a sleeve, for example), you want to make sure there are a couple of inches of clearance below this free arm. If not, it can be very difficult to sew the binding around the sides and handles of the bag, as this is all one continuous seam, and the bag (with all of its pins, and it is pinned to within an inch of its life) must rotate around the free arm at a few odd angles to accomodate those curves and points. All machines are different in how much space they allow. My old machine had a ton of clearance; the one I currently use seems like it has about an inch, as it is attached to an unremovable base. Anyway, I'll remind you about this again when the pattern/kits come out., so that you aren't swearing at me when you go to make this. I'm actually borrowing my friend's machine because I was swearing at myself, and I don't need that. The bags are looking so pretty, though. I'm hoping to have them available for sale in the next couple of weeks, the pattern for sale as a downloadable PDF shortly after that, and the kits ready sometime in July.

Also (I'm almost done, I promise), since I get a lot of questions from people wondering if I have sewing machine recommendations, my sad answer is, unfortunately, no. Major equipment purchases of almost any kind are not my specialty — my goal is usually to get it over with as soon as possible, and at that I would say I am awesome — so I would feel irresponsible advising anyone on something as important as sewing machines. I use a Pfaff Lifestyle 2022. I bought it several years ago and it was the best I could afford, but it's pretty low-end as far as fancy machines go, apparently. It works fine for what I need it to do, except for this free-arm-clearance issue, which is a major issue if you sew handbags. Or sleeves. If anyone knows of good sewing machine discussions, or comparisons, or reviews, will you comment here? I will then link to this post on my FAQ because I have zero doubt that anyone else's advice would be better than anything I could provide on this topic. Thank you!

Now, I gotta get to that cake. Pie. Cake. The thing with the chocolate on top.


Jennifer says: May 28, 2008 at 07:42 PM

Where is the whipped cream? My grandma's boston cream pie always has whipped cream in it. And it's so good that I always eat the entire pie in 2 days. no lie. One piece of advice- if you do add whipped cream on top of the pudding layer- put the cake/pudding layer in the fridge for about ten minutes to set. Then add the whipped cream and top cake layer. And don't overfill!!! Despite the temptation. I don't like chocolate frostings either. I've made this pie with a nutella topping, a strawberry cream topping, lemon topping. I also made one once with strawberry cake and chocolate ganache- an ode to neapolitan ice cream. Happy Birthday Andy!!! The best husband ever!! Does he have any single brothers? :)

this pudding looks so good. my husband just leaned over and said, "did she make that pudding?"
"from scratch"
insert long pause where he sits and wonders why i didn't make him pudding today.

maybe tomorrow i will. it looks good, good, good.

Yum, Boston Creme Pie! I should try making one. For sewing machine reviews you could check out

Michelle says: May 28, 2008 at 07:54 PM

I have a lower end Viking machine, a 400 I believe, which has the extension arm and some clearance. I bought it many years ago - the best I could afford at the time :) I LOVE my Viking and highly recommend it.

Seriously people, if you've never eaten real homemade vanilla pudding, you need to make this ASAP. We were having a casual dinner party and I decided to make Elvis' favorite dessert - Banana Pudding. You know, the one with the vanilla wafers. Although I'd never made homemade pudding before, I decided my guests were worth the effort. I made a test run the week before the party and when I tasted my pudding I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It is nothing, NOTHING like the package kind. Yummy. I think I'll have to made some tomorrow.

Thanks Alicia.

- Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

dude. france? whoa. serious business.

happy birthday, andy. and i second the site.

Hi Alicia -
Try this website for sewing machine reviews:

and Happy Birthday Andy!!!
- Lee
(Note birthday party hat!)

Oh, you are so great! I love these posts.

You crack me up with your "get it over with" attitude about big purchases -- I completely agree.

Happy Birthday, Andy!

umm - I love boston cream pie - and of course homemade is best!

Hiya honey!

The Knowledge Base boards on have heaps and heaps of info on just about every machine under the sun. Check them out here:

You do need to join, but it's free, and in my opinion, quite worthwhile.

Hi Alicia,

I happen to love Boston Creme pie and its not because I Live 20 min from Boston but because its soo good!!

I hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your spring!!

I have always wanted to know how a Pfaff works. I have a Bernina, but have always been told that Pfaff are the way to go...

Happy Birthday Mr. Paulson, may many more come your way!

That vanilla pudding looks really yummy, I'm going to have to try it!! Happy Birthday, Andy!! I have a really old pfaff. It was my Grandma's... it's at least 30 years old, and made in Western Germany. It doesn't have a whole lot of clearance, and this can be annoying for handbags and things, but I love it, because I know she used it for so long and with so much love. Take care & have a happy birthday celebration! xox, Linnea

Happy birthday, Andy! Have a great pie, eh, day!

Christine says: May 29, 2008 at 12:41 AM

Wow! This post was loaded with awesomeness! First, I love Boston Cream Pie (cake). I make a similar one with Betty Crocker yellow cake mix and a recipe for the pudding and frosting passed down from my mom. I remember making my first BCP when I was 9 yrs. old. It involved a lot of heating over a double broiler to reduce the filling and the frosting. But they are super yummy.
Ditto on the Sewing Pattern Review website. It's such a great resource for pattern and machine reviews. I myself own a Janome DC2007LE and I LOVE it to bits. I used to have a simple Singer from Costco that drove me batty! My Janome sews like butter. :)
The sky was very muggy and quite soupy here also (Vancouver,BC). So, I too spent the afternoon sewing a new blouse (Built by Wendy 3835). That was fun!
Happy Birthday to your dear Andy. Maybe a pic of his bday cake sometime?

i made custard only the other day... but i have to admit it was birds custard powder. shame on me!

Happy Birthday, Andy! Hope it's the best one ever!


Happy Birthday Andy! Hope you have many more to come. Eat a piece of the pie for me, ok? :) Then go for a nice ride to work off all that goodness cause you know Alicia makes the best stuff. xxoo

boston cream pie is my husband's favorite, too. and i have always wondered why they call it pie, when it is so clearly cake...

Happy Birthday Andy!! Cheers ... Cindy + Scott

Even the word "pudding" sounds so yummy and eggy and vanilla-y. My mom has the BCP down to an exact science. Years of trial and error to find the perfect pudding, cake and frosting recipe. My dad gets it for his birthday every year. Good stuff!

Looks delish.. your photos are always so pretty!

Bonne Anniversaire, Andy! We're both the same age. Your wife is good to make you your Boston Cream Pie/Cake. My husband likes my fruit tarts, and so does my brother-in-law... so that is my 'prison-pastry' that I am forced to make for special occasions.

I have a Husqvarna Emerald 118; It was a Christmas Gift to myself. After having a simple Brother that only did forward, backward and zigzag stitches, I feel like I have a treasure now. It's about middle-to-lower end but it serves my costuming purposes most adequately. You can't go wrong with Husqvarna/Viking products either way.

SamLaTricoteuse says: May 29, 2008 at 08:03 AM

Well - I am French Canadian and when I was young I remember tasting something with bananas in the States - sweet but a bit salty at the same time.. Never knew what it was - any clue ??? Maybe a pie - but I remember it from time to time: hard however to find something when you only have a taste in mouth... !!!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.