Boston Cream Pie

Happy Monday everyone!  It’s the start of a new week, a new month, a new blog layout and a new recipe.  And a new feature – from now on, all recipes will be available in a printable format.  I’ll work on getting all of the archived recipes put in a printable format as quickly as possible.

Because I’m just all about the “new” today.

I like my new layout a great deal; it gives me lots of room for modification so I can change the look in the form of new headers and colors and buttons on a regular basis without having to take the time to design and code a new theme every time I want to change it.  I hope y’all like it too; I welcome any feedback you might have.

Okay – Boston Cream Pie.  It’s one of Beloved’s favorite desserts and the one I made on Valentine’s Day.  When made from scratch it’s not a complicated recipe by any means, but it is a tad time consuming.  It is also one of the yummiest cakes you’ll ever eat.

The origins of the name – to say nothing of the recipe – differ depending on the source, but it’s generally accepted that it’s called “pie” when it is really a cake because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans so many people baked cakes in them.  The Parker House Hotel in Boston claims to have served these cream “pies” since their opening in 1856, hence the “Boston” part of the name.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the dessert (I have quite a few readers outside of the U.S.), it consists of two layers of sponge or butter cake that are sandwiched together with pastry cream. A chocolate glaze is then poured over the top of the cake and allowed to drip down the sides.  My version uses a simple butter cake, baked in two thin layers and filled with classic creme patisserie; a thick, rich, vanilla-flavored custard that consists of egg yolks, butter and milk thickened with flour or corn starch and flavored with vanilla.  I spread the top with an easy chocolate ganache consisting of heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate and a little butter.

It is oh, so very yummy, and it should be:  The cake is adapted from the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, the creme patisserie is adapted from the 40th Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the chocolate ganache is adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible.

I am nothing if not an equal opportunity adapter.

Note:   The creme patisserie will hold up to being sandwiched between the cake layers much better if it has been refrigerated a bit, so make it first.  The cake recipe is for two 8″ or one 9″ cake layers –  since I prefer a 9″ cake for this recipe I bake two thin layers; that way I don’t have to worry about splitting a single layer with a knife and risk it falling apart.  If you make two 8″ layers or a single 9″ layer, increase the baking time about 5 minutes.  Also allow the ganache to cool until just barely warm to the touch before spreading on the cake – it will thicken, but still run down the sides of the cake without pooling at the bottom.

Boston Cream Pie

serves 8

Creme patisserie (or vanilla custard)

1 cup granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

2 cups very hot milk (almost boiling)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In the 3-quart bowl of a stand mixer, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks with the paddle attachment and continue beating for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.  Gradually beat in the flour until completely smooth.

With the mixer running on low/medium low, gradually pour the hot milk into the egg yolks in a thin stream.  Pour egg/milk mixture into a clean, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set on the stove over moderately high heat.  Stir constantly with a wire whisk, making sure to reach all over the bottom of the pan.  As the custard heats, it may become lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it.  When it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue beating with the wire whisk for another 2 minutes or so, taking care not to scorch it at the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.  Scrape into a clean bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until ready to use.

Gold butter cake

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375º F; grease and flour cake pan(s).  Have all ingredients at room temperature before beginning.

Sift the flour together with baking powder and salt; set aside.  Cream the butter until soft and gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and scraping down the sides of the bowl and stirring until the batter is smooth after each addition.  Pour the batter into the cake pan(s) and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.

Remove pans to a wire rack; cool cake completely before removing from pans.

Chocolate ganache

4½ ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat.  Add the heavy cream and raise the heat to medium.  Heat and stir, trying not to create any air bubbles, for a few moments.  Remove from heat; add the butter and stir well.  Allow to cool until barely warm to the touch.


Place one cake layer, top side up, on a flat serving dish at least an inch or two larger in diameter than the cake.  Spread the creme patisserie thickly and evenly over the surface of the cake; top with the other layer, bottom side up (if the cake layers “domed” during baking, shave the tops with a sharp serrated knife until flat).  Pour the ganache on top and gently spread with a spatula until the chocolate coats the top of the cake evenly and begins to drip down the sides.

Cut into wedges to serve.  Wrap leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans.

16 thoughts on “Boston Cream Pie”

  1. I had to do a double-take when I clicked over here this morning! I LOVE your new digs! Is it wrong that I licked my computer screen viewing your Boston Cream Pie recipe and pictures? Excuse me whilst I go wipe off the drool… 😉

    I think I’m just going to leave your blog open all day so I can gaze at the beautiful Spring look that’s happening over here and ignore the remnants of snow outside. 🙂
    .-= Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)´s last blog ..Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair… or at least find a good hairdresser! =-.

  2. Gorgeous new layout. Gorgeous Boston Cream Pie. And, to top it all, printable recipes. My cup runneth over! This is what they mean by “March comes in like a lion?” Rawr!
    .-= Tessa´s last blog ..Bloody hell! =-.

  3. I love the the layout. Very clean and easy to navigate. Boston Cream Pie is one of my hubby’s favorites…the other being German chocolate. I hope things are beginning to slow down and return to normal. 🙂
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..His World Is Good =-.

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