Boston Cream Pie Recipe
A total classic: Boston Cream Pie! Layers of moist vanilla cake, filled with a sweet vanilla custard and topped with dark chocolate glaze. Such a crowd-pleaser; you can’t go wrong when you serve this for dessert!
Father’s Day is right around the corner, and I always like to mark the occasion with desserts that my own dad loved.
And I have so many memories of him LOVING the Boston Cream Pies my mom would sometimes buy from the freezer section.
So I figured this year, it’s about time I honor him with a homemade, from-scratch version of one of his most beloved desserts.
WHAT IS BOSTON CREAM PIE?
Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake. I’m not sure how it got the name “pie,” when it is clearly a layer cake, lol! It’s made with moist vanilla cake layers, sandwiched around a rich vanilla pastry cream filling, and topped with a luscious dark chocolate glaze.
Whatever you call it, pie or cake, it’s seriously delish.
The custard filling melds with the sponge cake, making it seem even more moist and creamy.
And the dark, rich flavor of the chocolate glaze contrasts so beautifully with the sweet vanilla. It’s a balance of flavors like none other!
THE HISTORY OF BOSTON CREAM PIE
Boston Cream Pie started, guess where? Ding ding ding, that’s right, Boston!
It was created by a French chef at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachussetts, in the late 1800’s.
Originally, the cake layers were soaked in rum, and the sides of the cake were garnished with toasted almonds.
But for today’s recipe, I’ve kept things simple. I think this is more what most of us think of when we hear “Boston Cream Pie,” and I know it’s the way my dad most enjoyed it.
CAN YOU MAKE BOSTON CREAM PIE AHEAD?
You can make all the components of this Boston Cream Pie ahead.
The cake layers are adapted from my favorite vanilla cake recipe. It’s moist and soft, with a buttery flavor and a delicate texture, and it can be baked up to a few weeks ahead. You can read more about that here: Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe.
The filling is similar to vanilla pudding, but richer. It’s made with egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and cornstarch to help thicken it up. I would definitely recommend making it at least a day ahead, so it has time to chill. You can learn more here: Pastry Cream Filling.
The glaze can be made ahead as well. You can find more info on that here: Chocolate Glaze. It’s just 4 simple ingredients, warmed and stirred together until smooth. As it cools, it gets very thick, but it can be re-warmed and drizzled over the Boston Cream Pie after it’s assembled.
Don’t ask me how I know, but I would definitely recommend waiting as long as you can to assemble the cake. If you put it together too far ahead, the exposed filling around the sides will become dry and cracked. Still delicious inside, but not nearly as appetizing to look at!
CAN BOSTON CREAM PIE BE MADE GLUTEN-FREE?
Yes! If you’d like to make a gluten-free Boston Cream Pie, just substitute both flours for a gluten-free flour blend. Look for one that subs 1 for 1 (in other words, 1 cup of gluten-free flour is equivalent to 1 cup of all-purpose flour). Here are some good options:
- King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
- Cup4Cup Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
If you have a Boston Cream Pie lover in your life, definitely bake them up this recipe! The cake is so soft and light, the filling so cool and creamy, and the chocolate glaze so rich and flavorful. Everything is so much better when it’s made from scratch, and this Boston Cream Pie is certainly no exception!
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- 1 1/2 cups cake flour *
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt (sour cream or buttermilk** can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, mist two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick spray, and line them with circles cut from parchment paper.
Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir on low speed to combine.
Add the butter, mixing on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute).
Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Add the yogurt, milk, and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.
Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans, and bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely before filling and glazing.
Place the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Heat the milk in a small pot until small bubbles form around the edge, and wisps of steam are rising from the surface.
Add the hot milk to the egg mixture, a little at a time, whisking to combine. When all the milk has been added, transfer the mixture back to the pot and place over medium-low heat.
Cook the pastry cream, whisking, until thickened.
Stir in the vanilla, and pour the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer, into a heat-safe bowl. Use the back of a ladle to press the mixture through the sieve.
Press a layer of plastic wrap directly onto the surface, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Heat the cream in a small pot over medium low heat, until simmering.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate (or chips).
Whisk in the the corn syrup and vanilla until smooth.
Drizzle while warm.
Place one (fully cooled) Vanilla Cake layer on a serving plate.
Spread the Pastry Cream filling all over the cake in an even layer.
Top with the remaining Vanilla Cake layer, and drizzle with Chocolate Glaze.
* Learn more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?
** If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute by stirring 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice into 2/3 cup of regular milk. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened and slightly curdled.
Find more info on the components of this Boston Cream Pie: