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Boston Cream Pie

Boston cream pie is an iconic American classic! Despite its name, it’s actually a cake with layers of light sponge cake, luscious vanilla custard filling, and a rich chocolate glaze dripping down the sides.

Fun fact: Did you know it’s actually a cake and not a pie at all? Apparently, back in the 1800s, when it was invented at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, cakes and pies were baked in the same pans.

A classic Boston cream pie with a shiny chocolate ganache topping and creamy custard filling.

So, the names were used interchangeably. The “pie” name just stuck even though it’s 100% cake. Those clever Bostonians! 

It’s so elegant, but it’s surprisingly easy to make at home. You won’t be able to resist it!

Why You’ll Love This Boston Cream Pie

Boozy Indulgence: The pastry cream and sponge cake incorporate alcohol (rum and vanilla extract), adding a sophisticated depth of flavor.

Light and Creamy Texture: With a light sponge cake, velvety pastry cream, and glossy chocolate glaze, the texture is too good.

Show-stopping Presentation: The dramatic drip of the chocolate glaze cascading down the sides makes for a stunning, Instagram-worthy dessert.

Nostalgic Treat: This classic New England dessert evokes a sense of nostalgia, It’s perfect for holidays and special occasions.

A slice of Boston cream pie in a white plate.

Ingredients

  • Whole Milk: The base for the rich pastry cream and tender sponge cake.
  • Large Eggs + Egg Yolks: Eggs add structure and lift to the sponge cake, while extra yolks create a luscious pastry cream. 
  • Granulated Sugar: It sweetens the cake and pastry cream. 
  • Cornstarch: It produces a smooth, glossy filling that sets up firmly when chilled.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt enhances flavors in the cake, pastry cream, and chocolate glaze. Don’t skip it!
  • Unsalted Butter: It adds richness and flavor to the cake and pastry cream.
  • Vanilla Extract: It infuses the cake and pastry cream with warm, sweet notes. Use pure vanilla for the best flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour and Baking Powder: Flour is the foundation of sponge cake, and baking powder provides a lift for a fluffy texture.
  • Heavy Cream and Light Corn Syrup: The key to a shiny, smooth chocolate glaze. 
  • Bittersweet Chocolate: It melts into the cream for a rich, glossy glaze. Bittersweet balances the sweetness of the cake and cream.
  • Rum (Optional): A splash of rum adds a subtle, boozy kick to the pastry cream. Feel free to omit for an alcohol-free version.
Two Boston cream pie cakes in pans.

How to Make Boston Cream Pie

This pie is so much easier than you’d expect! 

1. Make the pastry cream. Heat the milk in a saucepan until simmering. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Off heat, stir in butter, vanilla, and rum. Strain and chill until set, at least 2 hours.

2. Make the sponge cake. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Heat the milk and butter until the butter melts, and stir in vanilla. In a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Divide the batter between pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks to cool completely.

3. Make the glaze. Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

4. Assemble. Place one cake layer on a platter. Spread with the pastry cream, then top with the second cake layer. Pour the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Homemade Boston cream pie in an elegant kitchen stand.

Tips for the Best Boston Cream Pie

Follow these tips for the best version of the classic treat.

  • Room temperature is key. Use room-temperature eggs and butter for better incorporation and a fluffier cake texture.
  • Cool completely. To prevent the pastry cream from oozing out, allow it to cool completely before assembling the cake.
  • Don’t overmix! Mix the sponge cake batter until just combined to achieve a light, tender crumb.
  • Prepare the pans properly. Grease and flour the cake pans well for easy removal and to prevent sticking.
  • Have fun with variations. For tasty variations, try adding different flavors to the pastry cream, such as coffee, caramel, or fruit purees.
  • Get a step ahead. Prepare the pastry cream and sponge cake a day in advance to simplify the assembly process on the day of serving.
A slice of Boston cream pie on a white plate, showing layers of sponge cake and custard.

How to Store

Here’s how to keep leftover pie fresh.

To Store: Refrigerate the assembled pie, uncovered, for at least 2 hours to allow the glaze to set. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or store in an air-tight container. Keep refrigerated for up to 4 days. 

To Freeze: Freezing the assembled pie is not recommended, as the pastry cream filling will separate and become watery when thawed, ruining the texture. However, you can freeze the baked cake layers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before assembling and filling the pie.

Boston Cream Pie

Course: DessertCuisine: American
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

45

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

452

kcal

This Boston cream pie is pure decadence in every bite! It features layers of moist sponge cake, creamy vanilla custard, and rich chocolate glaze. Yum!

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Ingredients

  • Pastry Cream
  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon rum (optional)

  • Sponge Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • Chocolate Glaze
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Make the pastry cream: Heat the milk in a saucepan until simmering. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot milk. Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Off heat, stir in butter, vanilla, and rum. Strain and chill until set, at least 2 hours.
  • Make the sponge cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Heat milk and butter until butter melts; stir in vanilla. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Divide batter between pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks to cool completely.
  • Make the glaze: Bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Pour over chocolate; let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in butter and vanilla.
  • Assemble: Place one cake layer on a platter. Spread with the pastry cream, then top with the second cake layer. Pour the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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