When my youngest sister, Alex, was born, several families brought us meals so we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. One family brought us a delicious meal with none other than Boston cream pie for dessert! I loved the thick layer of chocolate ganache and the creamy vanilla pudding in this delightful dessert.
You might be wondering why this dessert is called a pie when it’s really a cake! Interestingly enough, this dessert was first made back in 1856 at the Parker House hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. In that era, cakes and pies were often baked in the same pans, which is why their names were often used for either dessert. Confusing, right? 😉 Even though there’s no pastry in sight with this “pie,” it’s something you’ll need to make!
The original Boston cream pie was a little different from the modern-day one. The cake was a butter cake split in half and brushed with a rum syrup, then filled with vanilla pudding (or crème pâtissière in French). The sides of the cake were spread with crème pâtissière and decorated with sliced almonds, while the top of the cake was covered with chocolate fondant. Sounds good, right? 😋 However, back in the 1950s, Betty Crocker introduced boxed mixes for the cake, pudding, and chocolate icing to make it simpler for the average home baker. She omitted the syrup and sliced almonds and used an icing instead of fondant on top. This simplified version seems to have outshined the old one in popularity among home bakers!
If you really liked this recipe, you might like these ones!
Easy Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes (ready in about 45 minutes!)
Flourless Chocolate Roulade (gluten free)
Dark Chocolate and Ginger Tarts (fantastic make ahead recipe)Print
This recipe for Boston cream pie shows you how to make this classic dessert from scratch. With a butter cake, vanilla custard filling, and chocolate ganache topping, this elegant sweet treat is something you need to make!
For the Cake (from Martha Stewart)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (200g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk (118 ml)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (86g)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup caster sugar (183g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Crème Pâtissière
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons whole milk (500 ml)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup caster sugar (95g)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (20g)
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (25g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (200 ml)
- 5.8 ounces dark chocolate chips (165g)
Making the Cake (45 minutes + 30 minutes baking + approx. 1 hour cooling)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F, making sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Lightly butter a 9-inch round springform cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.
- Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and set over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture begins to simmer, turn it to very low heat until ready to use.
- Crack the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the caster sugar. Whisk on medium low speed for a couple minutes, then turn the speed to high and whisk until the mixture has at least doubled in volume and is quite pale. When the whisk is lifted, a ribbon of batter should fall from it and hold its shape for a few seconds before sinking into the mixture.
- Gently fold in the dry ingredients, then trickle in the hot milk mixture and the vanilla extract with the mixer on a low speed until well blended. Be careful not to overmix; you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible, but still have an evenly mixed batter.
- Hold the bowl a little above the prepared pan and gently ease the batter into the pan, making sure the batter is level.
- Bake the cake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, is shrinking away slightly from the sides of the pan, and springs back quickly when you lightly press on the center of the cake. Don’t open the oven door while it’s baking, or the cake may sink.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then take it out and place it right side up on a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the Crème Pâtissière (20 minutes + cooling)
- While the cake is cooling, make the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk into a heavy-based medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk is just barely simmering.
- While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together with a handheld electric mixer until the mixture is quite pale and thick. Beat in the cornstarch and flour until well blended and very thick.
- Once the milk is simmering, remove it from the heat and let it cool for 30 seconds. Turn on the mixer on low and gradually trickle in the hot milk. Whisk until well blended, then pour the mix back into the saucepan.
- Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Immediately remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour into a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure to press the wrap right onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Making the Chocolate Ganache (5 minutes + cooling)
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until fully combined.
- Pour the ganache into a 2-cup jug with a spout and set aside to cool to room temperature and thicken, stirring occasionally.
Assembling the Cake (15 minutes + 2 hours chilling)
- Once the cake has fully cooled, gently peel off the parchment paper from its base. Put the cake on a large cutting board and get down to eye level with the cake. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half, turning the cake as you cut for an even slice.
- Place the bottom half of the cake on the serving plate or cake stand and evenly spread the crème pâtissière in a thick layer on top, reserving any extra for serving. Top with the other half of cake.
- Slowly pour a little ganache into the middle of the cake and let it naturally spread to cover the top. Add more ganache where necessary and smooth it with your finger or a spatula until it completely covers the top and drips a little down the sides. You’ll probably have some extra ganache. Rough up the ganache a little with a spatula to give it some texture, or leave it smooth.
- Chill the cake for 2 hours before slicing and serving to allow the ganache and crème pâtissière to fully set. Serve each piece with any leftover ganache or crème pâtissière.
- Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight cake carrier in the fridge. Eat within 3 days of making.
- Leftover ganache and crème pâtissière should be stored in the fridge. Soften the ganache by warming it gently in the microwave until it reaches your desired consistency.