Monday, July 11, 2011

Lobster Tails Like Cake Boss

My kids and I have recently discovered the TV show Cake Boss. I know we're late to the party, but wow! that guy is talented. We just watched this episode where Buddy makes a giant "Lobster Tail" pastry for an expectant mom who was craving them. They look amazing, and the moment Buddy called them "one of the hardest pastries to make" I knew I'd have to try.

For some reason I couldn't find this recipe laid out nice and neat in one spot. I had to do a ton of digging for different components, and watch the Cake Boss clip a few times to figure out what to do. There's apparently a very similar pastry called Sfogliatelle that's sometimes called Lobster Tail but it's baked with a ricotta filling inside and is not as crunchy. Buddy's is definitely crunchy and he keeps calling the filling "ice creamy" and says it's a blend of custard cream and whipped cream. He definitely fills it after it's baked, not before. He bakes the shells filled with a cream puff dough that makes the pastry rise in the oven and creates the pocket for the filling.

I pieced many recipes together to try to copy what he did and here's what I finally ended up with:

Lobster Tail Pastry like Cake Boss

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter, cut into pieces
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
Form into a ball and chill for two hours.

To roll pastry:
Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into two equal parts. Place on a dusted pastry board (we just dusted our whole granite island with flour) and roll into an 18-inch square (Buddy used a pasta roller as long as he could, then stretched it manually after that to get it as thin as possible).
Brush the thin pastry with butter. Roll the dough into a tight log and cut into 3-inch slices. Pick up one piece of pastry dough in your hand. Press your thumb in the center of the pastry and push it down to form a hole like a cup. (This separates the layers and gives it the lobster tail look.) Put a little cream puff dough inside the cup and seal the top. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.
Custard Filling:
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don' t curdle or scorch on the bottom.

When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled before using.
To make it into the "ice creamy" filling that Buddy describes, whip a cup of cream and fold it into this custard, then pipe it into the finished pastry and dust the whole thing with powdered sugar.

There's no patching this baby.

Attempt #1: Fuhgeddaboudit. It was impossible for me to get the dough this thin without tearing it, and then it was impossible to get the layers to separate enough to push it out into a lobster tail shape.

These look great but are secretly plotting to turn into rocks in the oven.

I ended up ditching the pasta roller and just rolled it as thin as I could by hand. It was easier to work with but it came out of the oven tough and hard, not flaky and crunchy. I shed a few tears, then went to the grocery store and bought some Phyllo dough.

In the middle of all this fun, little brother grabs the camera and takes big sister's picture. Can you guess from her expression what happened next?

Attempt #2: I stacked the Phyllo dough in 6-layer rectangles and rolled them up lobster-shell style. Baked them in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes, which turned out to be too long. I burned them.

Now I'm just pissed.

Attempt #3: I took the cream puff dough and plopped it out onto cookie sheets because now they're just going to be cream puffs. I'm over the whole lobster tail thing. I didn't really want to try them anyway.

I baked the cream puffs at 425 for 20 minutes and they were puffed and golden and amazing-looking. I set them on the rack to cool and they deflated in the next two minutes until they looked like frisbees.

Are you flippin' kidding me?

Vanilla pudding, anyone?

This is the only thing that came out well.
Luckily it can and will be a stand-alone (very alone) dessert.

The Verdict: Does anyone know a good Italian bakery?


  1. You are brave! I would have NEVER tried that... and I freaking LOVE cream puffs, by the way. ;)

  2. Bravo, we all applaud you. You gave it one heck of a good try! I would have given up on the very first attempt. :D

    Truthfully, summer heat and flaky, delicate pastry don't mix, it's like oil and water. You may want to give it another try when the weather turns cooler as everything I’ve read indicts that ingredients need to remain cold in order to create that puffy, flakiness that we all love so much.
    Though I don't DO pastry, I know that even among professional chefs there are those chosen few who just have the "feel" for pastry. It does take a special talent and chefs world wide tend to admire those who were just "born pastry chefs". So you're far from being alone in the boat of chefs that can't get that perfect Lobster Tail pastry. :)

  3. Wow, well, good on you for giving it a go! By the way, the Sfogliatelle that I've had have always had a crunchy shell and they are absolutely delicious.

  4. Hahaha. Sister does not look happy. Did the cream puffs at least taste good, even if they did deflate?

  5. Sorry, I just couldn't leave a comment with a typo in it. :)

    I remember that episode and thought that those pastries looked darn good. Kudos for giving it three tries- that's persistence! One of my favorite Italian pastries is the cannoli, and I know if I try to make them, I'm probably just going to be disappointed. Better off to go try and buy them at the bakery!

  6. "the moment Buddy called them "one of the hardest pastries to make" I knew I'd have to try."

    That right there? Exactly why I love you so much.

  7. I watched Ace of Cakes a lot, but haven't gotten into Cake Boss.

    Good for you for trying it though! In a pinch you can pick up puff pastry dough out of your grocers freezer ;)

  8. LOL I can only imagine how awful that would have gone if I'd have tried to make them. Have you ever made macarons?

  9. Hi!
    I was looking for a good baking challenge, kind of like yourself, and immediately thought of Lobster Tails. I tried one two years ago at an Italian bakery in NYC and fell completely in love! So glad you have the recipe in full. I am going to attempt it sometime within the next couple of weeks.. haha wish me luck.
    Any who, haven't explored the rest of your blog yet, so I don't really know where you live. But, if you are looking for a great Italian Bakery, try Presti Bakery located at
    12101 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, OH. They have Lobster Tails ;) And their coffee is good too, if you like it strong.
    A Baker in the Making

  10. Just tried this recipe and what a treat! I did a little experimenting and I think I've got it down.1) After I flatten out the dough, I spread some vegetable Crisco instead of butter and that Really made it easier to work with as far as stretching and rolling the dough.2) then after cutting the rolled dough, I turned each one on its side (exposing the the rolled layers) and flattened each one to about half of their original thickness. Then I pushed each one into the lobster trail shape and stuffed a little puff pastry in them. 3) I baked at 400° instead of 425 and took them out when they were golden. 4) I made chocolate cream by melting a 60% dark chocolate bar in 2 tablespoons of milk (then added the rest of the milk and the sugar and followed the recipe as you described).
    They came out flaky and delicately crispy sooooo good! my husband ate a ton of them!
    Thanks for sharing such a great recipe! I hope you will try again because they really are delicious!

    -a cake boss lover <3

  11. Mike's Bakery in Boston, MA ships them. You definitely have to try one they are to die for.
    Thanks for posting your attempts you saved me a day in the kitchen. I will just order them from mike's.


    Try this one and remember sometimes when cooking things don't turn out "always" right the first time. Good luck

  13. I have to tell you, we all got quite a laugh sitting here reading your entertaining story as we eat our Lobster Tails from Carlo's Bakery. I'm a New Jersey native and lived here all my life, but I had never been to Carlo's. I moved to California last year and my stepdaughter is Buddy's biggest fan. She's seen every single episode several times and knows every character. We knew we had to stop in when we came here to visit. We went there this afternoon and unfortunately we didn't see any of the characters from the show, and Buddy was in London (delivering a cake, according to Marissa). But we loaded up on Lobster Tails, Biscotti, Pignoli Tarts, and Crumb Cake, as well as a few other odds and ends. I have to be honest, the Lobster Tails ARE all they're cracked up to be! They're amazing! If you're a fan, you owe it to yourself to visit the shop one day, it's worth it! In the meantime, never stop trying to figure things out on your own -- even if you don't end up with a great dessert, you'll end up with a great story to entertain us with! :)

  14. Your filling HAS to be off. It's got whipped cream in it. I'm also from NY and when I had it the bakery called it "French cream" which they said was a very thick whipped cream. On the show, he said custard and whipped cream but I se your recipe doesn't have any cream. All the recipes I'm finding have Ricotta which is bullshit. Bless you for even TRYING sister.

  15. Use premade puff pastry. Cut in strips and rolled around canolli metal tubes and bake. These are similar to cream horns then once bake and cooled you can fill them with the vanilla pudding.

  16. Use premade puff pastry. Cut in strips and rolled around canolli metal tubes and bake. These are similar to cream horns then once bake and cooled you can fill them with the vanilla pudding.

  17. Use premade puff pastry. Cut in strips and rolled around canolli metal tubes and bake. These are similar to cream horns then once bake and cooled you can fill them with the vanilla pudding.