recipe

Boston Cream Pie: the mouthwatering recipe for a classic American dessert

Total time: 120 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist
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Ingredients
for the pie
large eggs at room temperature
2
Sugar
1 cup
Whole Milk
1/2 cup
Salted butter
5 tbsp
All-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp
Baking powder
1 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Extract
2 tsp
for the pastry cream
egg yolks at room temperature
6
Sugar
2/3 cup
Cornstarch
1/4 cup
pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp
Whole Milk
2 cups
Butter
1 tbsp
for the ganache
heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup
bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces

Boston cream pie is a fantastic old-fashioned American dessert that never goes out of style. Although it's called a cream pie, this dessert is actually a cake. This moist, buttery vanilla sponge cake has a heavenly layer of pastry cream in the center and is topped off with a luxurious chocolate ganache.

This delicious dessert dates back to late 19th century Boston and remains one of the most famous dishes to come out of the city. Boston cream pie is easy to make, and it's a perfect dessert for just about any occasion!

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What is Boston Cream Pie?

Despite its name, Boston cream pie is actually a cake. It's made with vanilla cake, vanilla cream, and topped with a rich chocolate ganache.

Boston cream pie dates back to the 19th century when “cake” and “pie” were used interchangeably. It was created at the Parker House Hotel in Boston around 1881. When this decadent dessert was first made, it was known as a chocolate cream pie, and over time, became known as the Boston cream pie.

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Boston Cream Pie Ingredients

To make the vanilla sponge cake, you'll need flour, sugar, baking powder, and eggs.

Butter and milk will help give the cake its rich, buttery flavor and moist tenderness.

You'll need eggs, sugar, milk, and butter to make the silky smooth pastry cream.

Cornstarch will help thicken it so it can support the top of the cake, while a dash of vanilla will give the cream its gorgeous flavor.

For the ganache, make sure you pick up high-quality bittersweet chocolate – the slight bitterness will balance out the sweetness of the pastry cream and the vanilla sponge.

How to Make Boston Cream Pie

There are three main parts to making the perfect Boston cream pie: preparing the pastry cream, making the cake, and putting everything together! The first step is to make the pastry cream. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, then whisk in cornstarch. Whisk in half the hot milk.

Strain it back into the pot and heat the mixture over medium-high. Make sure to whisk it constantly to keep it from burning and to help it thicken. Once thickened, take the pot off the heat and add in the butter. Cover the cream with cling film. To prevent skin from forming over the cream, make sure the cling film touches the top. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Put the eggs and sugar into your stand mixer and beat them until fluffy. Microwave the milk and butter until the butter melts. Gradually beat flour into egg mixture. Slowly pour the butter mixture into the egg, beating to combine. Going slow is key so you don't cook the eggs.

Transfer the cake batter to a greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Let it cool completely, then cut the cake in half horizontally. Set the bottom half of the cake onto your serving platter. Layer the pastry cream over the bottom half of the cake. Put the top of the cake over the pastry cream and gently press down. Put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

To make the ganache, microwave the cream for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and add in chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk to combine. Pour all that chocolatey goodness over the cake, and serve.

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Should You Refrigerate Boston Cream Pie?

Boston cream pie must be refrigerated due to the pastry cream. Pastry cream is perishable. It will also soften the longer it's left at room temperature. This will cause the top layer to sink into it, forcing the cream out and creating a mess, and ruining your cake.

Tips for the Best Boston Cream Pie

Pay attention when you're measuring your flour. Level it off or use a kitchen scale to measure it. Adding too much or too little flour can ruin the texture of your cake.

Use a high-quality baker's chocolate to make the ganache.

To thicken the pastry cream, whisk it while cooking it over medium-low heat for a minute or so.

You'll know your cake is ready to come out of the oven when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean and crumb-free.

To simplify your Boston cream pie recipe, you can use boxed vanilla cake mix for the cake.

To jazz up your Boston cream pie, you can make a spider web pattern over the top. Pipe white fondant or white chocolate in concentric circles over the top of the chocolate ganache. Use a knife or other pointed tip to score through the chocolate moving from the center to the edge of the cake.

Make sure you move your hands in only one direction while you whisk the eggs.

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How to Store Boston Cream Pie

Cover or transfer your Boston cream pie to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Can you freeze Boston Cream Pie?

You can't freeze an assembled Boston cream pie because of the cornstarch in the pastry cream. However, you can freeze the sponge cakes yourself and make the cream later when you serve the cake.

Instructions

To make the pastry cream, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat.

Add the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.

Whisk.

Whisk in cornstarch.

Pour in ¼ cup hot milk, whisking until smooth.

Once smooth, whisk in the remaining hot milk.

Strain the mixture into the pot.

Heat over medium-high, whisking constantly.

Once it thickens and begins to boil, continue cooking and whisking for another 1 to 2 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and whisk in the butter.

Let the pastry cream cool for a few minutes, then cover with cling film. Make sure the cling film touches the top of the cream. This will help prevent skin from forming. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the cake, preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a cake pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray again.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Gradually beat flour into egg mixture.

Whisk.

Microwave milk and butter in 30-second bursts until the butter has melted.

Slowly pour the butter mixture, beating to combine. Transfer the cake batter to the pan.

Bake for 30 to 33 minutes. Cool in the pan for several minutes.

Remove and set on a rack upside down to cool completely.

To assemble your Boston cream pie, cut the cake in half horizontally.

Set the bottom half of the cake onto your serving platter. Layer the pastry cream over the bottom half of the cake, leaving 1-inch around the edge of the cake.

Put the top of the cake over the pastry cream.

Gently press down. Put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

To make the ganache, microwave the cream for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and add in chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk to combine.

Pour the ganache over the cake.

Let it set slightly.

Slice and serve.

Notes

Use room-temperature ingredients to make your Boston cream pie. The batter will come together more easily.

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