Sunday, January 6, 2013

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie isn't actually pie - the name is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake (specifically, a light, airy sponge cake), filled with a custard filling, then glazed with a thin chocolate ganache. The name comes from the city where this amazing dessert was created - Boston. It was created in 1856 by M. Sanzian, an Armenian-French chef at the Parker House Hotel, and is now considered the official dessert of Massachusetts. 

The combination of flavors is super popular, showing up in pastries such as eclairs and doughnuts. In fact, anytime I try out a new doughnut shop, the ONE pastry I always try is their version of a Boston Cream Pie. So far, Lamar's Bavarian Cream Bar takes the top spot, though at least a half-dozen new doughnut shops have popped up here in Birmingham over the past year, so I'll have to give them a try, too! 

The BF LOVES Boston Cream Pie. Whether it's the Little Debbie version, the Jell-O Pudding version, or even the Yoplait Yogurt version, he'll eat anything with the "Boston Cream" moniker. Though I've found numerous recipes online for Boston Cream Pies made from box mixes, or even as poke cakes, I decided I needed to "do it up right" and make one from scratch, start to finish. It was actually MUCH easier than expected - making/chilling the custard while the cake baked and cooled was a big time-saver! 

So, what did the BF think? Well, he had two big pieces in a row, so I think that's a good sign! 

Boston Cream Pie

3 large eggs, room temperature & separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour
Custard Filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp water
4oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Prepare the Cake: Beat the egg YOLKS and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended (I used the beaters for this). Beat in HALF of the granulated sugar (1/4 cup) until the mixture is pale and very thick. 

In a separate bowl, with CLEAN, DRY beaters or a whisk attachment (this is what I used!) , beat the egg WHITES with a pinch of salt over medium speed until very soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) until stiff peaks form - the peaks should be stiff but still moist, not dry. 

GENTLY fold the yolk mixture into the egg white mixture. Sift the cake flour over the mixture and fold until just combined; do NOT overmix. Transfer to a 9" round cake pan, greased and lined with wax paper (to get the perfect size, simply place the pan on top of a sheet of wax paper, and trace the bottom - then just cut it out). 

A few tips: Use a sandwich bag to grease your pan; that way you don't have to touch the shortening. Also, I LOVE Wilton's Bake Even Strips (I got mine at Michael's) - you just wet them with cold water, wrap them around your pan and pin in place, and they ensure that your cake bakes evenly - no more cracks or domed centers!! 

Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes or until the top springs back lightly when gently pressed. Loosen the cake by running a spatula around the edges of the pan, then invert onto a wire rack. Remove the pan, but leave the wax paper on the cake. Turn right side up and cool completely on the rack. 


Prepare the Custard Filling: Combine the sugar and flour in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the milk gradually, then add the egg yolks, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. 

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Once the cake has cooled completely, cut the cake in half horizontally with a serrated bread knife. I like to place toothpicks or bamboo skewers around the cake at the halfway point; this gives me a guide while cutting. Carefully remove the wax paper and place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Top with the chilled custard filling and spread evenly to cover. Top with the remaining layer of cake. 

Prepare the Chocolate Ganache: Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour over the the top of the cake, letting the glaze run down the sides and let stand until the chocolate sets. 

Keep cake stored in the refrigerator.


  1. This looks fantastic! Just found your blog and am looking forward to reading your recipes.