Boston Cream Pie


My mother is from Boston and I grew up eating Boston Cream Pie made by my grandmother. It was one of her signature desserts. Her other signature dessert was vanilla ice cream with her homemade hot chocolate sauce. My mouth is watering just remembering it.

Grandma made her Boston Cream Pie from boxes! She used a Duncan Hines cake mix, instant vanilla pudding from a box, and frosting from a can. It was really delicious.  

This Boston Cream Pie tastes like it comes from a fancy bakery. It’s not exactly like my grandmothers, but it’s very, very good. The vanilla cake is delicious, as is the chocolate glaze, and the pastry cream tastes professionally made. The filling in this cake has the perfect consistency. It doesn’t ooze out when you cut the cake. Everything about this cake is really perfect. That said, I have to admit that I like the taste of my grandmother’s filling a little better. Did it taste artificial? Yes. Did it lack structural integrity? Yes. Did I love it? Yes. I really miss my grandmother and her Boston Cream Pie. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with her right now and have a piece.

You need a lot of time to make this cake. Various layers have to chill for several hours, then when you assemble the cake, the whole thing has to chill for three hours to make it easy to cut and serve.   Start early in the day if you want to serve this cake in the evening.  I can’t wait to find an excuse to make this again.

Boston Cream Pie
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated, March/April 2011 issue

Pastry Cream
2 cups half-and-half
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
Pinch of table salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

For the pastry cream:

Heat the half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it just simmers. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until smooth. Add the flour to the yolk mixture and whisk until incorporated. Remove the half-and-half from heat and, whisking constantly, slowly add 1/2 cup to the yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to half-and-half in saucepan.

Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 8 minutes.

Increase heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until bubbles burst on surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is melted and incorporated. Strain pastry cream through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Press lightly greased parchment paper directly on surface and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For the cake:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooling spray and line with aprchment. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add vanilla and cover to keep warm.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and sugar at high speed until light and airy, about 5 minutes. Remove mixer bowl from stand. Add hot milk mixture and whisk by hand until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

Working quickly, divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until tops are light brown and toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.

Transfer cakes to wire rack and cool completely in pan, about 2 hours.  Run a small plastic knife around edge of pans, then invert cakes onto wire rack. Carefully remove parchment, then reinvert cakes.

To assemble:
Place one cake round on large plate. Whisk pastry cream briefly, then spoon onto center of cake. Using offset spatula, spread evenly to cake edge. Place second layer on pastry cream, bottom side up, making sure layers line up properly. Press lightly on top of cake to level. Refrigerate cake while preparing glaze.

For the glaze:
Bring cram and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove fro heat and add chocolate. Whisk occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.

Pour glaze onto center of cake. Use offset spatula to spread glaze to edge of cake, letting excess drop decoratively down sides. Chill finished cake 3 hours before slicing. Cake may be made up to 24 hours before serving.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

One year ago: Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream
Two years ago: Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Three years ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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