Boston Cream Pie

Old-fashioned Boston Cream Pie is a best-loved classic cake, not pie, that is utterly decadent and delicious!

One of our favorite desserts is this delicious Boston Cream Pie filled with creamy custard and topped with a chocolate ganache. Check out our Boston Cream Poke Cake for another cake recipe that is just as delicious.

Boston Cream Pie slice on white plate.

What is a boston cream pie?

Boston Cream Pie is a marriage between a cream pie and a cake. Boston Cream Pie is said to have been invented at Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel in 1856.

Around that time period pies and cakes were often baked in the same baking pan so they had very similar shapes. The hotel referred to it as Parker House Cream Pie & Chocolate Cream Pie.

In 1879 one of the first printed recipes called it a Boston Cream Cake. In 1996 the Boston Cream Pie became the official state dessert of Massachusetts. 

Custard + Chocolate = Delish

Boston Cream Pie has layers of tender cake sandwiched with rich homemade custard, all topped with a luscious chocolate ganache. It’s completely delicious!

This year I wanted to try a new dessert for the hubby’s birthday and ended up making this amazing Boston Cream Pie (similar to our Boston Cream Poke Cake).

The finished product was perfectly delicious, and my husband said it was one of his favorite birthday cakes ever.

Boston cream cake process pic.

How to Make Boston Cream Pie

CUSTARD. To make the custard, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn starch and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. Then whisk in the milk until well combined.

  • Heat the mixture over medium-high heat for 2 to 4 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  • Add the pieces of butter, and stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely chilled.

CAKE. If making homemade yellow cake, be sure to take the cake out of the cake pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack once it comes out of the oven. To assemble the cake, level the sponge cake rounds using a serrated knife or cake leveler.

  • Place one of the cake rounds on a serving plate, and gently spread the cooled custard evenly over the cake layer.
  • Add the second cake layer on top.
Boston Cream Pie ganache being poured over cake.

Ganache Topping

Once the Boston Cream Cake is assembled, make a simple chocolate ganache to go over the top. There are only two ingredients – heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

GANACHE. To make the ganache, add the chocolate chips to a medium bowl. Add the heavy whipping cream to a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, and heat one minute on high, or until boiling.

  • Pour the whipping cream over the chocolate chips and let stand for one minute. Using a fork, stir the ganache until it is smooth and the chocolate has melted completely.
  • Pour the ganache over the cake, spreading evenly. Let stand 30-60 minutes, until the ganache has cooled and set.

Boston cream filling

This dessert features delicious Boston Cream. Boston Cream is often confused with Bulvarian Cream. Both are used to add richness to some of our favorite desserts, but they do have unique differences. 

  • Boston Cream is usually always used as a filling for cakes, pies, donuts and more and paired with chocolate.  Boston Cream uses cornstarch as a thickening agent as well as milk and eggs which gives it a texture like custard.
  • Bavarian Cream can be used as a filling, but can be served as its own dish and topped with fruit puree or sauce.  Bavarian Cream uses gelatin which gives it more of a solid texture as well as heavy cream and whipped cream.
Boston cream filling in between cake pieces for Boston Cream Pie recipe.

Variations

Boston Cream Cupcakes. Use the cake batter to make 24 cupcakes. Allow the cupcakes to cool.

  1. Place a piping tip (Wilton tip 230 the bismarck) in a piping bag and fill the bag with the Boston Cream.
  2. Poke the tip ⅔-¾ of the way into the center of the cupcake. Squeeze the custard out as you pull the tip up.
  3. You will see the cupcake swell and the filling will appear out the top when the tip comes out.
  4. Use Chocolate Buttercream Frosting to top the cupcake, chocolate icing, or the chocolate glaze listed in the recipe.

Add a web design to the ganache. Many Boston Cream Pies showcase a pretty web design in the ganache. Make the chocolate ganache listed in the recipe as well as a white ganache or icing:

  1. Combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon corn syrup, 1 teaspoon water and warm it up to about 105 degrees. The icing should not be thick. If needed,  add more water for it to flow freely. 
  2. Add a small tip to the piping bag and pour in the white icing.
  3. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the cake. Using the white icing pipe on a spiral design that starts in the center and extends to the edge.
  4. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to pull the white icing out every few centimeters along the entire spiral. Be sure to stop before you touch connect your pulled icing with the line of icing in the spiral.   

Garnish with toasted coconut, sliced almonds, dark or white chocolate shavings.

Boston Cream Pie Cake topped with chocolate ganache on a white platter.

storing info

STORE. IF you have leftovers, and it probably won’t happen, we recommend storing this cake in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Just cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap.

Make ahead of time. The cake layers for this recipe can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to a month in advance. The custard can also be made ahead but only 24 hours in advance.

  • If the cake is assembled, it can also be frozen, but note that the custard will be more water-y when it thaws due to the cornstarch.
Boston cream pie slice on a white plate.

This Boston cream pie has the most delicious combination of flavors and textures. I love the light and tender cake, the velvety smooth custard, and the chocolatey ganache. It’s perfect for any special occasion!

For more pies and cakes, check out:

Boston Cream Pie

4.84 from 18 votes
Old-fashioned Boston Cream Pie is a best-loved classic cake, not pie, that is utterly decadent and delicious!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Assemble 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 555 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

  • 2 8-inch white or yellow cake rounds baked and cooled

for the custard:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

for the ganache:

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • To make the custard, in a medium sauce pan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn starch and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. Then whisk in the milk until well combined. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat for 2 to 4 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Add the pieces of butter, and stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  • To assemble the cake, level the cake rounds using a serrated knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cake rounds on a serving plate, and gently spread the cooled custard evenly over the cake layer. Add the remaining cake layer on top.
  • To make the ganache, add the chocolate chips to a medium bowl. Add the heavy whipping cream to a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, and heat one minute on high, or until boiling. Pour the whipping cream over the chocolate chips and let stand for one minute. Using a fork, stir the ganache until it is smooth and the chocolate has melted completely. Pour the ganache over the cake, spreading evenly. Let stand 30-60 minutes, until the ganache has cooled and set.

Thank you Alicia from The Baker Upstairs.

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About Alicia

Hi! I’m Alicia and I blog at The Baker Upstairs. I am in love with all things food! I love to bake bread, cupcakes, cookies… you name it! When I’m not baking, I am running after my two adorable little girls, working as an RN, knitting, reading, and trying to squeeze in time with my husband every day.

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    So i DIDN’T know BOSTON cream pie was actually a cake- a delicious one at that. THANKS for sharing the recipe!

      1. I have never tried, but I imagine it would work fine. If you do give it a try, you’ll have to let us know how it turns out!

  2. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite donuts, so I know I will love this cake! It looks so soft & that creamy middle looks so good!

  3. 5 stars
    we took this to a family party and i didn’t come home with any left overs. I would say everyone loved it! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Boston cream Pie is a favorite of my husbands. the picture you took of the cake slice looks sooo yummy! What recipe do you use for your cake?

  5. 5 stars
    I made the boston creme cake for my daughTer’s bIrthday and Everyone raved about how delicious the cake was. It was messy to cut but the guests didn’t mind one bit. It was all gone in a matter of minutes. She said it was better than Nana’s, and Nana’s was her favorite until now.

  6. Can I use a lactose free milk for the custard? and a dairy free heavy whipping cream for the ganache? Please let me know, I’m looking forward to trying this out soon. thank you.

    1. Yes, both of those substitutions should yield a similar result. I have never tried it using the dairy free options, but I imagine they would work fine. You’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

  7. Hi,I’m making this soon,one question,after cake is all assembled,I put it back in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before serving,right ? It says to let stand,I’m assuming I put it in fridge for this.
    Thankyou,
    I know it will be a hit!

    1. Yay! You can let it set out at room temperature to set. You could also put it in the fridge. It would definitely set quicker if put in the fridge. I hope you enjoy it! You’ll have to let us know how it turns out.

  8. 5 stars
    I’m gluten free and lactose intolerant, so I used King Arthur gluten free yellow cake mix and Lactaid whole milk. This cake was outstanding! Have made it 4 times since February. My sister asked for a Boston Cream pie for her birthday and since it has been years since I have even baked a yellow cake, I panicked. But I found this recipe and adapted it to my food allergies and was hugely surprised. It was so easy to create and tasted great! The second time I made the cake I reduced the vanilla in the custard by 1 teaspoon as I thought the flavor was too strong, but that’s my preference. If using gluten free cake mix, DON’T use Betty Crocker gluten free. No taste and very gritty. Everyone keeps asking me to bring this cake! Best cake ever and a showstopper!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing!! I love that you found the recipe and tweaked it to work for you. And it sounds like it has been a success!! I’m so glad you all enjoy the cake!

  9. I want to use this recipe but I’m making a 10 inch. How would I alter to make a bigger cake?

    1. I’m not exactly sure. I would probably 1.5x or double the recipe and then just fill with the amount of custard preferred (you can always use the photos as a guide) and top with the ganache similarly. You might have extra of the custard/ganache doing it that way, but better safe than sorry I guess! 🙂

    1. needing help with making the custard thick, its wanting to stay runny and I’ve also had it in the fridge for 2 hours. how long does it need to be in the fridge before using it on the cake?

  10. 5 stars
    Such a yummy cake recipe. The ganache is perfect and the cake and custard filling are amazing. Love this!!