Boston Cream Pie

February 4, 2014

Boston Cream Pie | une gamine dans la cuisine

"I was reading a book about pleasure,
how you have to glide through it
without clinging
like an arrow
passing through a target,
coming out the other side and going on."

~ Tony Hoagland, from "What Narcissism Means to Me," in Impossible Dream 

Chocolate, I've come to realize, is at its best when relished in delicate doses. I wouldn't dare take a lemon-slippered step into the vast world of chocolate fandom, but I'm at the cusp of understanding the immortal seduction...this rich, lavish substance is quite saporous.

I made this "pie" for my mom's birthday (she's been dropping not-so-subtle hints for months). Boston cream pie was never on my to-do list so I was deliciously surprised when I found myself going back for a second slice. The recipe is much ado about nothing. If you read through it, you'll quickly discover that it's not as dramatic as it looks at first glance. Each portion, except the ganache, can be made in advance.

The sponge cake is airy and light and ethereal whilst the vanilla bean custard is lavishly opulent (one of my rare successful attempts at pastry cream!). Rounding off the air and the opulence is rich, velvety ganache. The contradicting textures and flavours make this pie/cake undeniably addicting - I'm secretly pleased my mom was right about not turning my nose up at something simply because it's not quirky or unusual. (Maybe I should take her advice and try smiling more often too.) *shh*

Boston Cream Pie | une gamine dans la cuisine

Boston Cream Pie
makes one 8-inch double layer cake

for the vanilla bean custard
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups half & half cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into about 6 pieces

for the sponge cake
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons half & half cream (or whole milk)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
5 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar

for the ganache
8 ounces dark (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped into tiny bits
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prepare vanilla custard: Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. {Note: Use the dull side of a knife to scrape out the seeds.) Add the cream, 6 Tablespoons of sugar, and salt. Stirring occasionally, simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined (about 30 seconds). Add cornstarch and continue to whisk for another 30 seconds (the mixture should be thick and light yellow).

Whisking constantly, add a small amount of the simmering cream/vanilla bean mixture to egg mixture. Still whisking, continue to slowly stream in the rest of the cream mixture. Pour the mixture back into saucepan. Return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and glossy. {Note: It might look as though it's never going to get thick but be patient and resist the urge to turn up the heat. It took mine about 7 minutes to thicken...depending on your stove it could happen a lot faster or slower...}

Remove pan from the heat and whisk in butter. Strain the custard through a sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. {Note: The sieve will eliminate any egg chunks that may have formed while custard was cooking. If yours look smooth and happy, there's no need to strain.} Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the custard and cover the bowl. Refrigerate until cold and set - about 5 hours (or overnight). Well-wrapped, the custard can be made two days in advance.

Prepare sponge cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter and almond extract. Cook over low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

In a clean dry stand mixer bowl, add 3 egg whites. (Save the yolks.) Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Increase to med-high and slowly add 6 Tablespoons of sugar. Beat until soft, moist peaks form (try not to over-beat). Scrape the egg whites into another bowl and set aside.

Using the same stand mixer bowl you just used to beat the egg whites, combine the 3 egg yolks and remaining 2 eggs. Add remaining 6 Tablespoons of sugar and beat on med-high speed until eggs are quite thick and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. (When you raise the whisk, the eggs should fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon).

Scrape egg whites into the bowl of beaten egg yolks. Sift in the flour mixture. Use a large rubber spatula to gently fold everything together - use about seven folds, enough to just incorporate the flour. Make a small well in center of batter and pour in the melted butter mixture. Gently fold butter into batter. (Don't overmix.)

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake 18-20 minutes or until light brown and springy to the touch. Remove pans from oven and place onto cooling rack. Immediately run a thin spatula around the inside of pans to help loosen the cakes. Invert onto a piece of wax paper (to prevent hot cakes from sticking). Remove parchment and re-invert onto cooling rack. Cool cakes completely before arranging.

Prepare the ganache: Place chopped chocolate into a large, shallow bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream, honey, salt, and vanilla to a simmer. Pour hot mixture over the chopped chocolate and let it rest for about 6 minutes. Using a whisk and starting at the center, use small concentric circles to stir the chocolate into the cream until completely melted and smooth. Let the ganache cool until just thick enough to spread - keep stirring it from time to time as you assemble the cake.

Place one cake layer onto a cake stand (or dish). Remove the chilled vanilla custard from fridge and spread it onto first cake layer. {Note: You may not need all the custard. I used the entire batch and it oozed out of my cake with each slice.} Place second cake layer over custard (make sure layers are aligned). If the ganache is still to loose for "spreading," place it in the fridge for a few minutes...not too long, or else it till harden. Spread ganache on top of cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Use a small offset spatula to polish up the edges and bring everything together.


recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Epicurious


  1. Divine! Boston Cream Pie is a wonderful speciality and yours looks extremely tempting.



  2. Absolutely gorgeous! To be honest I've never tried Boston Cream Pie but you have convinced me - after all, what's not to like with vanilla bean custard and a decadent ganache?!

  3. Ah, sometimes mothers just know. What a wonderful daughter you are. I find myself surprisingly tempted to try this beautiful dessert.

  4. oh what a wonderful pie! i would do anything to have a slice of this!

  5. Can you believe I have never had boston cream pie before? Must try.

  6. Ooh, I absolutely adore Boston cream pie. And yes, I totally agree with you that it's best in "delicate doses" (so well put!) I feel like I've never appreciated until recently (when overdoses of rich food suddenly make me feel ill when they never used to before!) how wonderful things can be in the right amount only. Beautifully done, Valerie! I need to make it soon.

  7. My lemon-loving husband has slowly but surely been won over to the dark side of chocolate, and it now wins the title of his "favourite food". Baby steps...ganache like this is a perfect baby step :)

  8. boston creme pie donuts are my favorite, they remind me of my grandfather (many sweet treats remind me of him...). dw & i made a similar cake 3 (!!!) years ago and it was divine. you're right, the contradicting textures & flavors are very addictive.

    so glad you're up & blogging again so soon!

  9. im so intimidated by making this - you make it look so easy and gorgeous. I am sure your mom loved it.

  10. Boston Cream Pie reminds me of being a kid. It was what I would ask for on my birthday each year. My Mom would whip it up and I simply loved it. I need to make this and enjoy a slice or two. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Beautiful and lush! I need to give one of these a try. Almost embarrassed to say I've never made one!

  12. I just made this cake and it is delicious!! However, in the section on preparing the cake when you write about beating the three egg yolks and two eggs you say to add the remaining 6 tbl spoons of butter. Ought not it be the remaining 6 tblsp of sugar? As I said - a truly delicious and fantastic recipe - thank you for sharing!!

  13. @AnneMarlene: Oops! You're right it should say sugar, not butter. Thanks for letting me know. I'm so happy you liked the cake (and figured out what I meant). :D

  14. Boston Cream Pie was my favorite dessert as a kid--Until I discovered Tiramisu! I made one for my family a couple years ago...Your pictures make me think I should make it again soon.

  15. Ultra-decadent! What a gorgeous cake, Valerie. You've outdone yourself once again!

  16. chocolate to me is best when its high quality
    there is such a difference in higher cacao than say a hershey bar
    so when you have those cravings for chocolate, reach for the good stuff and it goes away quickly, whereas a hershey bar you'll just want another, then another....

  17. It's true chocolate is best when enjoyed in limited doses (though I do have a history of eating 7 oz a day long time ago...)
    This is such a pretty cake, can't believe I never made it!

  18. What a gorgeously crafted pie. That creamy layer is calling out to me. No wonder you went back for seconds.

  19. Yum! I've never had a Boston Cream Pie before and after looking at your photos, I can't wait to try it. I really enjoy your blog posts--- your writing and photos are beautiful.

  20. SO preeeeetay! I love all desserts with banana and this one is no exception. Yo mama is smart!

  21. wowww, hoe can you resist to such an amazing, divine, fresh and delicious cake, one piece over here please :D


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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