Boston Cream Pie

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This Boston Cream Pie is a classic cake – not a pie at all! It’s a lovely vanilla cake layered with fresh pastry cream and chocolate ganache – all from scratch!

This post is sponsored by Challenge Dairy, but all opinions are my own.

Boston Cream PieBoston Cream Pie recipe

Boston Cream Pie has been around a long time. It originates in – you guessed it – Boston! And as the theory goes, it’s called a pie because at the time pie plates were more commonly used for cakes so it was actually baked in a pie plate and then layered like a cake. A pie that’s a cake!

And you might know that I’m a pretty big fan of the vanilla cake, pastry cream and chocolate ganache combination. I have several Boston Cream Pie inspired desserts, but so far didn’t have the actual classic cake! So today I am fixing that with my own rendition of the classic.

How do you make a Boston Cream Pie?

To get started with this cake, you’ll want to make the pastry cream. It’s a combination of egg yolks, sugar and milk that are thickened with cornstarch and cooked over the stove. At the end, you add a bit of butter and vanilla extract for flavor. It’s really not hard to make, but you do want to be sure it’s nice and thick.

Best Boston Cream Pie recipewhole Boston Cream Pie on wooden stand

Fun fact – the first time I ever made pastry cream was years ago (back before I started the blog) when a friend requested a Boston Cream Pie and I decided to attempt it. Let’s just say there was more filling that ended up on the cake plate than between the cake layers – ha! I still don’t really know what I did wrong, but you’d think I left out the cornstarch completely since it was so thin. I was afraid to make it again at the time, but now I’m a huge fan and love the stuff! So if you find it scary at first, just know you can totally master it!

Once the pastry cream is made, refrigerate it until cooled and thick. It can be made a couple days ahead, if needed.

Up next are the cake layers. Traditionally a sponge cake is used, but I opted for a more classic butter-based vanilla cake. It’s wonderfully moist and goes great with the pastry cream. And, of course I used my favorite Challenge Butter. Their butter is made the old-fashioned way, from fresh milk and cream at family-owned dairies. It goes from farm to fridge in just two days and contains no added hormones, artificial flavors or fillers – which I love! It’s such a creamy butter with great flavor that goes perfectly in this cake.

Boston Cream Pie slice with Challenge butter overhead viewBoston Cream Pie close up

Once the cakes and pastry cream are made, they are layered together and covered with a simple chocolate ganache. Just a combination of semi-sweet chocolate, cream and a little corn syrup. The corn syrup could potentially be left out or replaced with honey, but I do like to use it. It helps give the ganache a nice shine and give this cake it’s snazzy look.

The final cake is a delightful combination of moist cake, smooth pastry cream and dreamy chocolate! Such a classic cake that you’ll come back to over and over!

slice of pie on gold plate

You might also like:
Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake
Boston Cream Pie Cookie Cups
No Bake Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake


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Recipe

Boston Cream Pie

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 min, plus cooling time
  • Yield: 14-16 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Boston Cream Pie is a classic cake – not a pie at all! It’s a lovely vanilla cake layered with fresh pastry cream and chocolate ganache – all from scratch!


Scale

Ingredients

PASTRY CREAM

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (155g) sugar
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups (480ml) milk
  • 2 tbsp (14g) salted Challenge Butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

VANILLA CAKE

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 6 oz (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream

Instructions

1. To make the pastry cream, put the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl and gently beat them together. Set aside.
2. Add the sugar, cornstarch and milk to a large saucepan and mix until smooth.
3. Cook, stirring continuously, over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.
4. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat. Be careful not to boil the mixture, you want to just simmer it a bit.
5. Add a little bit of milk mixture to the egg yolks and whisk together, then add egg mixture to milk mixture. This process ensures that you don’t cook the egg yolks too quickly.
6. Place everything back in the pan and the pan back on the heat and bring to a light boil. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Don’t boil for longer than 2 minutes, or you can overcook it and it’ll actually break down, rather than get thicker.
7. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth, then pour into a bowl and cover with clear wrap pressed against the top so that it doesn’t get a film on top and set in the fridge to cool completely.
8. To make the cake layers, prepare two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
9. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
10. Add the butter, sugar and oil to and large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
11. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until completely combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
12. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
13. Add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look a little curdled, but that’s ok.
14. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
15. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
16. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
17. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove any domes from the tops of the cakes so they are flat.
18. Place first cake layer on a serving platter, then top with the pastry cream. If needed, give the pastry cream a good stir with a whisk to smooth it out before adding it to the cake
19. Add the second cake layer to the top of the cake.
20. To make the chocolate ganache, add the chocolate chips and corn syrup to a medium bowl.
21. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate chips and corn syrup. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
22. Pour the chocolate on top of the cake, in the center, then spread out towards the edges, letting some of the chocolate drip down the sides.
23. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Cake is best if eaten within 2-3 days and well covered.


Notes

Although the pastry cream can be made a couple days ahead and the cake layers can be made a day ahead, I recommend putting the cake together within a couple hours of serving so the chocolate is fresh.

Keywords: boston cream pie, boston cream pie recipe, boston cream pie cake

 

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Recipe rating

109 Comments
    1. Angela

      You can also use a little vegetable shortening for your ganache. It works very well.. I have not made this cake as of yet, however I will be making it soon.

  1. Pavithra

    Do you have suggestions for preventing the cake from forming a dome? I tried both lowering the temperature by 25F and using a cake pin to more evenly disperse the heat. Does using a light versus darker colored pan make a difference? Can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks very delicious but I think I am going to use your chocolate ganache recipe to pipe onto the cake like you did for your cupcakes. Thanks!

      1. Olga

        No need for strips or cutting. Get a cake board smaller than the pan the cakes in . Right when you take cake out of oven and theirs a dome just place smaller board on cake and gently press down for a minute or so. Won’t work if cake has cooled, needs to be hot.

  2. Suzy-q

    Lindsay, I made this cake yesterday. The pastry cream was too thin even though it sat in the frig for a couple of hours. Can the use of low fat milk contribute to the thinness of the filling?

    1. Lindsay

      It’s possible. The amount of fat can certainly make a difference. It could also be that it wasn’t cooked quite long enough. It’s hard to say from a distance. I’m sorry!

      1. Lindsay

        I promise the pastry cream does work and thicken very well. The first time I made pastry cream years ago, I had that same problem. Try cooking it a little bit longer so that it will thicken more.

  3. Bernadette Sarabia

    This was my first time making a boston cream pie and it came out beautifully! My family loved and my mother talks about it non-stop at her work, haha. I have been waiting to make this cake for some time, and now I can accomplish it! Thank you so much for this recipe!

    P.S. what is the best way of storing this cake? I placed it in the fridge and some of it got dried due to slices being cut. Any advice?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad to hear that! My suggestion would be to use a cake carrier, which seals air tight. It might not be perfect, but it should do well. If you don’t want to invest in a cake carrier, you could try putting some clear wrap up against the inside of the cake where you’ve sliced it.

      1. Jessy Lawson

        Take a slice of bread put some left over ganache on it then stick it to the cut sides of the cake. The bread will dry out not the cake

  4. Gina DeMarco

    I literally just made this today and my pastry cream too was runny, and i followed the recipe to a T. I had it chilling in the refrigerator for half the day.

    1. Anonymous

      I would recommend putting it in the bottom drawer of your refrigerater that’s set to chill, or just putting it in a regular refrigerator drawer, and surrounding it with ice packs. It really helps if you’re in a time pinch!

    2. Jessy Lawson

      Let the sugar cream and cornstarch boil longer so it’s bubbling really well and very thick. It should look like condensed milk almost. That will thicken it

    3. Darina

      Hi Lindsay,

      The recipe seems great! But I think that the amount of baking soda is a bit much. There is too much lingering taste of soda in the cake layers… :/

      1. Dana

        This recipe calls for baking powder not baking soda, maybe that was the problem. I’m not being rude by any means, I truly hopes this helps your recipe. I haven’t made this yet but my 9 yo daughter wants this for Jesus’ birthday cake😍. Looks like our Christmas dessert 

      2. Darina

        I cannot seem to happen to answer to Dana’s reply below.. Turned out I did make the mistake about the recipe and it was my fault. It just hit me on the next morning that I mixed those two up.. 😅

    4. Lisa

      I am gluten intolerant and have discovered with baking you have to add about 1/8 cup more fat (oil/butter) to make cakes moist enough. 

  5. Justine

    HELP!   This is my favorite pie.   I attempted the pastry cream.   Key word attempted.   Mine too would up more on the plate than the cake for first time.   I don’t know what to do.   I want to make the pastry cream again but afraid I will go wrong again.  How can I be sure it is thick enough to not run?   The directions were so simple and I loved the video too.   

    1. Mercy

      The American Test Kitchen recommends whisking the pastry cream on the stove oover medium heat for 7-8 minutes until thickened considerably. Try this. With all due respect to Lindsay, 2 minutes is entirely too short.

      1. Ivo

        Lindsay, in step 3 and 4, instructs to whisk till it thickens and starts to bubble and then simmer for 2 minutes. Not 2 minutes total.

      1. Samantha Haslego

        This pie is amazing! I froze 1 piece of the pie in a plastic container for 2 months to save for Fathers Day for my hubby. It came out great even after freezing it. 

  6. Suzy-q

    Just what I’ve been waiting for! I love Boston Cream Pie or should I say Cake. Yum! I’ll have to make
    this soon. Thanks, Lindsay! Enjoy the day!

    1. Jessy Lawson

      I cheated and used a yellow cake mix but I followed the directions for the custard and ganache. It was incredible! New family favorite!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12