Boston Cream Pie is a misnomer for a layered cake with a custard filling and a chocolate ganache icing. It is theorized that the reason it may have been called a pie is that mid-nineteenth century American baking was often done in pie tins only because they were more readily available than cake pans.
The Parker House Hotel in Boston lays claim to having served the very first Boston Cream Pies. The hotel opened its doors in 1856. The French chef Sanzian was hired for the opening of the hotel and created the Boston Cream Pie. It originally went by the name of Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie.
On December 12, 1996 the Boston Cream Pie was designated the official Massachusetts State Dessert. October 23rd is Boston Cream Pie Day.
The classic recipe is fairly straight forward and really doesn’t have too many variations. There are actually 3 recipes that go into making this cake. The first is for the yellow cake. The second is for the custard cream filling. And the third component is the chocolate ganache icing.
Boston Cream Pie Recipe
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 minutes
• 2 cups white cake flour, sifted
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 large whole eggs
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1-1/2 cups whole milk
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 large egg yolks, beaten
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 7 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 9 inch round springform cake pan.
2. Into a medium mixing bowl, sift the cake flour along with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs while the mixer is running one at a time. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed butter along with 1/3 of the milk. Continue until all of the flour and milk are mixed into the creamed mixture.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Place it in the oven and bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Prepare your vanilla custard while the cake is baking.
5. Remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan and allow the cake to continue to cool completely. When the cake is completely cooled, carefully remove it from the springform bottom and place it on a rotating cake stand or a cutting board.
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the milk and split vanilla bean. Heat until just below the boiling point. Remove from the heat before a skin is allowed to form on the surface of the milk. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to allow for the vanilla to infuse into the milk.
2. After infusing, remove the vanilla bean. Using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the bean and add them back into the milk. Discard the bean pod.
3. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, place sugar, flour, and egg yolks. Stir continually until the mixture is smooth. Add the warm milk to the flour and egg mixture and continue to cook, stirring continuously just until the mixture starts to thicken. Don’t allow it to curdle. This should only take a couple of minutes. Remove the top of the double boiler with the custard from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
1. In a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat. Using a whisk, stir in the chopped chocolate until it melts and the icing is smooth. Use the chocolate ganache while it is still warm. If your chocolate ganache has cooled too much, gently re-warm before using.
1. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and carefully remove the top half and set aside. Place the bottom half on a serving cake platter.
2. Top the bottom half of the cake with the custard filling, spreading it to the edges.
3. Carefully place the remaining cake half, cut side down, on top of the custard and press lightly.
4. Spread the warm chocolate ganache icing all over the top of the cake. Allow the icing to drip down the sides. If desired, smooth the icing along the sides of the top half of the cake.
5. Place the Boston Cream Pie in the refrigerator for 1-1/2 hours to set.
6. Slice into 8 equal wedges and serve. This is delicious with either a steaming cup of coffee, black tea, or a glass of cold milk.
Yellow Cake: There are variations for the cake recipe that use vegetable oil in place of butter. You can make the cakes in 2 separate pans if you aren’t confident in slicing the cake in half.
Vanilla Custard: You can certainly use pure vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean, approximately 2 teaspoons. Some recipes call for corn starch instead of flour.
Chocolate Ganache: To make this a little easier, use semi-sweet chocolate chips. They tend to melt quickly. There are recipes that call for adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of corn syrup for a sweeter icing.