Our Boston cream pie is an amazing dessert. The tender cake, velvety Boston cream pie filling, and creamy chocolate topping are divine.
Boston cream pie dates back to 1881 but the original was a little different from the modern-day one.
The original cake consisted of a butter cake split in half and brushed with rum syrup, then filled with vanilla pudding (known as crème pâtissière in French). The sides were spread with crème pâtissière and decorated with sliced almonds, while the top was covered with chocolate fondant.
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 icing instead of fondant on top.
This simplified version of Boston cream pie seems to have outshined the old one in popularity among home bakers!
Curious what ingredients you'll need to make a Boston cream pie from scratch? Fortunately, most of the ingredients you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. Let's talk about the most important ones.
- Flour: All-purpose is best for this recipe. You'll use it for the cake and the cream filling.
- Eggs: One of the key ingredients in the cake is eggs, as it helps the cake rise. You'll also use eggs for the cream filling.
- Milk: The cake for this dessert is actually called hot milk cake. You can use whole milk or a non-dairy alternative.
- Chocolate: Use high-quality dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao) to make the ganache that goes on top of the cake.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients for our Boston cream pie, making sure they are at room temperature.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk until combined. Heat the butter and milk together on medium heat until the butter is melted. Turn the heat to low and keep the milk on the heat until needed later.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. The mixture should leave trails that hold their shape for a few seconds before sinking back into the batter.
3. Fold in the flour mixture gently with a silicone spatula. Make sure that there are no hidden pockets of flour in the mixture.
Turn the mixer on low speed and trickle in the hot milk and butter mixture. Mix with the whisk attachment until evenly blended, but be careful not to mix too long.
4. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch springform pan and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until just barely simmering. While the milk's getting hot, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they're pale and thick.
Dump in the flour and cornstarch and whisk again until blended.
6. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour the filling back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the custard has thickened.
Pour the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps, then press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming on top. Chill the custard in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
7. Heat the cream over medium heat until it's just barely simmering, then remove it from the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips until smooth.
Pour the ganache into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge until ready to use, stirring occasionally. This allows the ganache to thicken, making it easier to decorate.
8. Once the cake has cooled, peel off the parchment paper and split it in half with a serrated knife. Spread the vanilla custard filling on the bottom layer.
9. Top with the other layer. Spread the thickened chocolate ganache on top of Boston cream pie, making sure to get right to the edge. Let it drip down the sides a little if you like.
10. Chill Boston cream pie in the fridge for about 2 hours before slicing, as this will firm up the ganache and filling to make for a neater slice. Enjoy a slice of our Boston cream pie with your family and friends!
Back in the 1880s when it was invented, cakes and pies were often baked in the same pans. That's why their names were often interchangeable. I'm glad we stick to one name for each dessert nowadays!
Yes, it is not a pie, but a cake. Boston cream pie consists of two layers of hot milk cake filled with vanilla pudding and topped with creamy chocolate ganache. This delicious dessert is the state dessert of Massachusetts.
It is made from just a few simple ingredients: milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, flour, and vanilla. It's the same thing as the French crème pâtissière or American vanilla pudding. You can whisk up the filling in just a few minutes!
This dessert was first made back in 1881 at the Parker House hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. A French chef named Raelyn is credited with inventing this delectable dessert.
- Leftovers: Store Boston cream pie before serving and any leftovers in the refrigerator because it contains a custard filling and chocolate ganache. Keep it at room temperature for no more than 2 hours before refrigerating.
- Freeze: It's okay to freeze as long as you don't use cornstarch in the filling. Use flour to thicken it instead, as cornstarch can make the filling runny when it's defrosted. Defrost this dessert in the fridge overnight, then take it out of the fridge an hour before eating.
- Handle the batter gently to keep as much air in it as possible.
- Be careful not to overbake, or it will be dry.
- Let the ganache cool and thicken in the fridge before pouring it on top.
- Refrigerate Boston cream pie in an airtight container. Eat within 3 days of making.
- Leftover ganache can be chilled until firm, rolled into balls, and enjoyed as chocolate truffles.
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Boston Cream Pie
For the Cake (from Martha Stewart)
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Boston Cream Filling
- 2 cups whole milk
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 5.8 ounces dark chocolate chips
Making the Cake (35 min + 30 min baking)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line its base with parchment paper.
- Whisk 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 room temperature 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 with a silicone spatula.
- Trickle in the hot milk mixture and the vanilla extract with the mixer running on low speed. Use the whisk attachment and stir 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.
- Gently ease the batter into the pan, making sure the batter is level.
- Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, until it is golden brown, is shrinking away slightly from the sides of the pan, and springs back quickly when you lightly press on the center. Don't open the oven door while it's baking, or the cake may sink.
- Let it 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 Boston Cream Filling (20 min)
- Pour the milk into a heavy-based, 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk is just barely simmering.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until the mixture is pale and thick. Beat in the cornstarch and flour until blended.
- Gradually trickle the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Keep whisking until blended, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Immediately remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the custard through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps, then pour it into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Making the Chocolate Ganache (5 min)
- 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 bowl and chill in the fridge until ready to use, stirring occasionally. This step allows the ganache to thicken, which will result in a thicker layer of chocolate on the Boston cream pie.
Assembling the Cake (15 min)
- Once the cake has fully cooled, gently peel off the parchment paper from its base. Put it on a large cutting board and get down to eye level with it. Using a serrated knife, slice it in half, turning the cake as you cut for an even slice.
- Place the bottom half on the serving plate or stand and evenly spread the custard in a thick layer on top. Top with the other piece.
- Slowly pour a little ganache into the middle and spread it over the top. Add more ganache where necessary and smooth it until it completely covers the top. You'll probably have some extra ganache, which you can chill and eat as chocolate truffles.
- Chill Boston cream pie for 2 hours before slicing and serving to allow the ganache and custard to fully set.
- Be gentle with the batter to keep it from deflating.
- Check with a toothpick to keep it from getting overbaked.
- Let the ganache thicken in the fridge before putting it on top.
- Refrigerate Boston cream pie for up to 3 days.
- Leftover ganache can be chilled until firm and rolled into balls to make chocolate truffles.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.