Boston Cream Pie

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 Pie

Boston 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

Read transcript

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close up image of Boston Cream Pie slice

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


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!




  • 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


  • 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


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


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.


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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collage of Boston Cream Pie

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Recipe rating

  1. Tracy

    So this is my first time ever making anything like this and it turned out awesome! Every layer was so delicious (I always sneak a taste) I knew it would be. Followed the directions exact! Delicious!

  2. Ilene C Seidel

    I made this today, the pastry cream was stable. I left it in the frig all day made the cakes and refrigerated them for couple of hours. I had to spread the pastry cream with an off set spatula. The one thing I did wrong was the Ganache wasn’t hot enough. It seized too much on sides.

  3. Becky

    Easy to follow the recipe – the cake came out great! My husband requested a Bostom Cream Pie cake for his birthday and it seemed a little intimidating with so many steps, but the cake turned out delicious and was a huge hit for our small birthday gathering. 

    I should emphasize the importance of putting the cake on the serving platter before putting the custard mix on top – I almost broke the cake trying to move it from the cooling rack to serving platter with heavy custard on top after mis-reading! 

  4. Amelia Inoa

    Amazing! The cake the filling, gnache is all so good. For everyone who had issues with the pastry cream. I used a tiny sauce pan. And it stayed liquidy. I re did it in a much large pot and it thickened right up! And definitely let it boil. I think i was impatient the 1st time.

  5. Jenny

    Nice cake, turned out well. The custard was nice and thick (though it squished out a bit when cutting) and the cake nicely moist and fluffy. Instead of cutting off the dome, instead i gently pressed down with a plate which had the added bonus of leaving a shallow depression to hold more filling. 
    Only thing i would change is using better quality chocolate for the ganache.

  6. Colleen

    Incredible flavor! Rave reviews from my office party. Everything went absolutely perfectly except that it was raw in the middle after 25 mins at 350F, I ended up baking it for 40 mins with foil wrapped around the pans so that the rest of the cake didn’t burn. The edges came out dry and they fell off when I inverted the cakes. In the end, I saved the cake and it was delicious just not as attractive as pictured with the sides crumbled off. I baked the cakes on convection. Perhaps this cake cannot be baked using convection?

  7. Happy Wife

    My sweet husband made me this for Mother’s Day.  It was absolutely delicious!  And his even looked like your finished pie/cake.  My whole family enjoyed this so much.  Thank you for this lovely recipe.

  8. Karen

    I’m sorry but I am very disappointed in this recipe. There was way to much baking soda and the custard never hardened. It was like soup. You need to go over this recipe again. Thank Goodness I had enough time to make another one from a different recipe.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m sorry you weren’t happy with the result, but I really do have full confidence in the recipe. I’ve made this pastry cream many many times for many different recipes and it’s always fine. It may have been undercooked or had some other issue for you.

    2. Mercy

      Hi, you mentioned baking soda, but Lindsay’s recipe very clearly says baking powder. The very thought of 3 teaspoons of baking soda should have warned you that you had read wrong, that much baking soda is almost lethal for any recipe. But that amount of baking powder would be harmless and not bedetected. Hope this helps.

  9. Emily

    I’d like to try and modify this recipe for cupcakes, do you think it would work all right?  Mostly asking re. the pastry cream…I was hoping to core the cupcake and fill the center.  Will the cream be soft enough to pipe into the center?

  10. Kim

    I used to make the “boxed” version of the Boston Cream Pie as a kid. Now I make it from scratch. Made this yesterday. I wasn’t sure my pastry cream would thicken up enough to cut the cake but It did. I had used 1 % milk and removed it from the stove when it was fairly thick (almost like Mayo). My husband didn’t want to wait until today to eat it so I did put it together last night. it did take quite a few hours in the refrigerator for the pastry cream to thicken and would have been even better if I left it overnight (made it late in the afternoon). But it still held up pretty good to cut the cake. The only question I have is about the amount of butter in the pastry cream – It says 2 tablespoons but the weight is for 1 tablespoon. I love that you provide the weights of your ingredients as that is how I bake. If I were to measure my flour by volume it would typically be 140-145g per cup as we live in a dry climate. Most sites say one cup weighs 130g so that is what I use for a cup weight unless the recipe specifies the weight. The cake was perfect!!

    1. Lindsay

      Milk chocolate is going to give you a thinner ganache, so you might want to reduce the amount of cream a little.

  11. Nancy Connell

    I made this cake for our birthday celebration at work. It was a big hit! Everyone said it was delicious. I think I must have done something wrong with the ganache though. It soaked into the cake. Wasn’t shiny and pretty like yours. It still tasted great, but what should I have done differently to keep the ganache from soaking in.

    1. Lindsay

      Hard to say from a distance but it sounds like it could have been a little thin. Maybe too much cream was added? Or are you sure you used semi-sweet chocolate? Other chocolates, like milk chocolate, would make a thinner ganache.

      I’m glad everyone enjoyed it!

  12. Tabitha Pippin

    Can I make this a few days before a party and just keep it in the fridge? I’m making it for a friend’s birthday but i’m going to be out of town the day of the party

    1. Lindsay

      Technically, you could make it ahead. Because this cake is not frosted though, it’s going to dry out more quickly in the fridge. If it were me, I would probably only make it a day ahead, but you could stretch it to two if you really had to.

  13. Cris

    Made the pastry cream and refrigerated it for a few hours. Went to put it in the cake and it’s VERY solid and gelatinous. Any advice or should I just chuck it and try again?

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard for me to know without being there to see it, but I would try giving it a good stir to loosen it up and smooth it out and see what it’s like then. I’m guessing it would be fine.

  14. Carolyn

    Great recipe, easy to follow the many steps. The cake, filling and ganache came out perfectly and assembled easily. However, when cutting the cake the filling squeezed out the sides and the top layer of cake started to slide off. Any tips on how to cut and serve this beautiful cake would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Lindsay

      That’s kind of a tough one. You could try thickening up your pastry cream a little bit more so that it stays in place a little bit better. You could also try a very sharp knife and just cutting it very gently and slowly. That is one of the tricky things about this kind of cake.

    2. Lai Anderson

      Loved making this cake for the first time! Cream and ganache came out wonderfully. Would need tips on how to make the cake more moist and less dry though, please!

      1. Lindsay

        I’m glad you enjoyed it! Maybe try baking the cake layers for a few minutes less next time.

  15. Angela Pike

    This cake was probably the best yellow cake I have ever made! The taste and texture were perfect. The whole thing was delicious.

  16. Alisa

    Made this for my husband’s birthday! It was delicious and easy! I was worried if the top layer cake is too heavy for the pastry cream but it held well and the consistency was perfect! Everyone at the party loved it and I will definitely make it again. Thank you for the great recipe. 

  17. Tammie

    I just finished eating the last piece of this pie. It was so good. I’ve never had this pie before and of course it’s the first time I’ve ever made it. I didn’t use your pastry cream recipe (I already had a bowl of it made for something else that didn’t work out) but I did use the rest of the recipe. Before I go to make anything I always read the reviews. So glad I did. Someone (sorry I don’t remember your name) wrote that they made a well in the cake to put the pastry cream in. I did the same. Even after putting all of that cream in the well and also putting about an half an inch over the entire bottom layer, I still had maybe a cup, cup and a half of it left over. Not only that, just having that well of pastry cream in the middle of the pie made every bite that much more yummy!! Thanks for the recipe. I now have it bookmarked…. 😉

      1. Tammie

        Hi Lindsey. I have a question that I don’t see written in your notes. Can I freeze the cake layers only? If yes, for how long would you suggest? I have some ingredients I need to use up before they go bad and would love to make this again. I plan to make them today so I hope to hear from you as soon as possible. Thanks…

      2. Lindsay

        Yes freezing the cake layers should be fine. Just wrap them well and thaw them in the fridge when you’re ready. I would probably suggest not freezing them for longer than a month.

  18. Keifer R.

    Delicious recipe! Thank you!! Made it for my wife’s Birthday today and we loved it. I used Baileys flavored semi sweet morsels for the ganache instead of regular semi sweet.

  19. Pat Flynn

    It sounds so wonderful & has been requested by a friend for a birthday next Saturday the 22nd. Do you have any idea of the amounts of carbs and fats per serving?

  20. Muhammad Alvi

    Do you think apples would be a great addition or any dried fruit.
    I really like chocolate and fruit.
    Btw I loved the cake

  21. marilyn

    This is a wonderful cake for this recipe! i stuck with my pudding recipe and chocolate glaze recipe. i recommend this cake recipe. it is perfect for a boston creme pie.
    Thanks for sharing! i now have a new cake recipe!


    If you allow all of your cake ingredients to come to room temperature your cake will come out much better. I was a pastry chef for many years. Butter based cakes require this step for perfection.

  23. DreamingOfSummer

    I made this cake today. It took two attempts at making the pastry cream. The first attempt, I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with a runny cream. The problem with the recipe is the cornstarch loses its thickening properties if 1. It’s over stirred and 2. If it’s heated for too long. Simple solution to the recipe on my second attempt : mix the cornstarch in with the egg yolks and add into the warm milk. Perfect pastry cream second time around!

    1. Lindsay

      In all the times I’ve made this pastry cream (and it’s a lot), I haven’t had issues with the cornstarch breaking down. But I’m glad you found a solution that worked for you! 🙂

  24. Corri B

    I made this for my brother’s birthday and every element was AMAZING individually but for some reason after I assembled them the cake -which was previously so fluffy and light- became quite dense. I was so disappointed because the cake was my fav vanilla cake I’ve ever baked. I’m trying it again tonight to see if it keeps it’s fluff better with a buttercream icing instead.

    1. Lindsay

      Was that after refrigerating it? I do find that refrigerating cakes can make a difference, so I don’t love doing it, but it’s unavoidable with the filling of this cake.

  25. Shaynah

    So I used this recipe for the custard and the chocolate ganache and it turned out perfect! Thank you!

  26. Melissa

    I just finished making this, and with a few adjustments, it came out perfectly. 
    Following the directions for the custard, especially the cook times,  it came out perfectly thick and delicious. 
    For the cake, I sifted the flour mix, whipped the sugar/butter/oil for 4 minutes, combined the milk/eggs/vanilla and then alternated putting them into the whipped butter. The cake came out super moist. 
    When I assembled the cake, I cut a well in the bottom layer because there is NO WAY the custard will support the top layer. It worked great! 
    The ganache was perfect! Great recipe!! 

    1. Lindsay

      It should be 480ml of milk. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, I have updated the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

  27. Amy Rice

    Hi, I have made your Boston Cream Cupcakes a few times with great success (yum!) and am looking forward to trying the Pie! How could I travel with this? Could I prep the cake, pastry cream and ganache, pack them separately and assemble on site? Would the chocolate be okay? Or should I make the chocolate on site? Thank you for any advice! Happy New Year! ~Amy

    1. Lindsay

      You could make the pastry cream a couple days ahead and the cake layers can be made a day ahead. I recommend putting the cake together within a couple of hours of serving so the chocolate is fresh. My suggestion for traveling would be to use a cake carrier, which seals air tight.

    2. Dustin R Sneed

      For everyone having problems with the filling…
      I used 1 cup half and half/1 cup milk. I treated it like custard or fudge in the cooking process. Started out low and gradually moved up to my desired temperature. And remember to stir,stir,stir!!!!
      We always use Challenge butter too🙂
      Made it the night before and it came out wonderfully.
      Really hope that this helps someone.

  28. Lili

    The filling was the perfect consistency (and honestly I had to prevent myself from eating it all before putting it on the cake-it’s so good!), but my cake was a little dense. Is it supposed to be moist and light? Either way, it was delicious and quickly eaten on Christmas. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Lindsay

      I would say it should be more on the moist and light side, but I think everyone’s definition of light is a little different. 🙂 That said, I always recommend to be sure to fully cream the butter and sugar. Also, not to over mix the batter at the end.

  29. Debbie

    This is my husband’s favorite cakes / pie he used to get it from Marie Callender’s but they don’t make it anymore his birthday is on Christmas Eve so I’m attempting to make this recipe.. so far so good.. my cream filling has turned out delicious thank you for the recipe.. very easy to follow great directions

      1. Blueberry muffin

        Hi, I’d like to make this cake soon but I wanted to know if it would be ok to use buttermilk?
        Would buttermilk make the cake better in moisture and taste? 

    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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

      2. Letar

        I wanted to add a suggestion about the pastry cream, it’s not coming out thick for some of you because the recipe says stir for 2 minutes , which is wrong because you actually need to stir until you see it thicken , the recipe says don’t stir for more than 2 minutes , but you need to stir for more than 2 minutes in order for it to get thick , so in my opinion , the recipe is misleading because of this part , I had to stir for 4 minutes or so , and it turned out thick ! Great recipe though , just needs some adjustments

  32. 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

  33. 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. 

  34. 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. 

  35. 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!

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!

Scripture I’m Loving

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