Recipe: Boston Cream Pie (Cake)

Boston Cream Pie couldn't be farther from a pie. It's a bloody cake! I had to look up the origins of this dessert for obvious reasons. 

Story time! 

Cooks in New England and Pennsylvania Dutch regions were known for their cakes and pies and the dividing line between them was very thin. This cake was probably called a pie because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans. The first versions were probably baked in pie tins. Boston Cream Pie is a remake of the early American "Pudding-cake pie." Boston's (Omni) Parker House Hotel, has served Boston Cream Pies, created by French chef Sanzian, ever since their opening in 1856. In 1996, the BCP was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts.

How lovely!'s still not a pie.

The actual process of making this dessert was kind of a bother. The ingredients are simple, the steps are easy, but the steps don't happen at the same time. They happen in waves and there's lots of cooling and waiting in between. And then more cooling and waiting. Alas, in the end, it was worth it and the Birthday boy I made it for (who went to school in Boston- how fitting!) seemed pleased with the results.

Boston Cream Pie
Recipe from
Yield: 1, 9-inch cake. Serves 10–12

Ingredients – Sponge Cake
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Ingredients – Cream Filling
2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Ingredients – Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate – I used my favorite Scharffen Berger
1 cup heavy cream, boiling

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
3.  Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
4.  Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
5.  Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
6.  To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.