Boston Cream Pies

Blog4 040I adore a good Boston Cream Pie. I make a lot of cakes that are lavishly iced, but the cake itself is actually my favorite part. A Boston Cream Pie is really a cake (I know – go figure!) with layers of custard filling, and chocolate ganache only on the top of the cake. Now that’s the perfect cake!

For fun I made individual sized cakes which, for once, turned out just as I imagined them. Whew! The gals in my book club were my guinea pigs, and seemed to really like them, so these are crowd-tested for you. I did one thing that probably wasn’t necessary, and added a chocolate-hazelnut crust on the bottom. It tasted good, but added a little bit of crumb/mess factor that I could have done without. A layer of chocolate cake in the middle would have been lovely though. Maybe next time!

I liked the tall, stately look with three layers, but you could also spread the batter in a larger pan, cut the circles out and then cut them in half for a shorter version with two layers of cake and just one layer of custard. They’d be easier to cut, serve, and eat, but not quite as impressive. And you know that food bloggers don’t bake just to produce delicious goodies…we’re always trying to WOW people! Either way, you will find them tasty and beautiful. And did I mention tempting?

The yellow cake recipe is something you’ll use often, so I wanted to keep it simple. If you choose to add the chocolate crust, here’s how you do it:

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs. (I love “Famous Chocolate Wafers” by Nabisco)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, ground
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine well and press firmly on the parchment in the bottom of the pan before pouring in the cake batter. When the cake is baked, it’s easiest to cut your shapes directly from the pan instead of turning the cake out onto a rack.
Hint: a food processor makes it simple to grind up the cookies and the hazelnuts!

Pouring cake batter over the chocolate crust.

Pouring cake batter over the chocolate crust.



I used a 12″x2″ round cake pan, which was just barely big enough. A 13″x9″x2 rectangular pan would hold the same amount of batter. You could also use two 9″x2″ round pans.

Luscious Yellow Cake
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup milk
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease the bottom of a 12"x2" round pan, or two 9"x2" round pans, or one 13"x9"x2" rectangular pan. Line with parchment and spray the parchment with a flour based cooking spray (like Baker's Joy).
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift it once more.
  6. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Beat well after each addition, being careful to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Beat for two minutes.
  8. Pour into pan(s) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. If you are using a 12" round pan, it may take 45-50 minutes. If you are using two 9"x2" round pans, check after 30 minutes.
  9. Cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes and then turn the pans over to remove the cakes. Allow them to cool before decorating.

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While the cake is baking, make your custard filling. This way it will have a chance to chill before you use it.

2 1/4 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and cut into 1 inch sections
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, room temperature)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large saucepan on medium heat, bring the milk and vanilla bean almost to a boil. It should be bubbling slightly. Reduce the heat to low for 10 minutes. The milk should be hot so the vanilla will flavor it, but not boiling.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Using a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs until they get foamy looking and turn a lighter color.
On low speed, mix in the sugar mixture.
With a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of vanilla bean from the milk and discard.
Pour approximately one-fourth of the hot milk into the egg mixture and beat on low briefly, until combined. Immediately pour it back into the pan with the rest of the milk and start stirring!
Turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly (or use a whisk) until thick and is bubbling.
Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Cover the surface with waxed paper and put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Whip those eggs!

Whip those eggs!

Vanilla filling...thick and bubbly.

Vanilla filling…thick and bubbly.

While your cake cools and your filling chills, make the chocolate ganache for the topping.

I usually make my ganache by the traditional method of chopping the chocolate and adding the hot cream to it little by little. This time I tried melting the chocolate first, and it turned out just as good and saved me from having to clean a knife and cutting board. Hey – every little bit helps when you hate to do dishes!

5 ounces dark chocolate (don’t use chips…quality counts!)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 15 second intervals and stirring each time.
In a small pan on medium heat, heat the cream just until it starts to boil.
Pour half of the cream into the chocolate and stir gently. A whisk or a rubber spatula work well.
Pour the other half of the hot cream into the bowl and stir gently until it is smooth and well combined. Set aside.

Because I used the chocolate crust, I left the cake in the pan while I cut the circles using a tube fashioned out of plastic from my (out of control) craft room. You could also use a sturdy cardboard tube cut from a roll of gift wrap. You may have to get inventive. I know you can do it! Anything tubular that is open at the top so you can push the cake back out if necessary. I had to give a few stubborn cakes a nudge with the end of a wooden spoon.

Cut out all of the little cakes you can (I got about 20) and save the scraps. I’ll show you why later.

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Cutting the cake towers out with a plastic tube.

Thinly slice the brown top off of each cake and put it in your scrap pile. Cut the remaining cake into thirds. Place the bottom piece in a cupcake wrapper or on a plate and put a blob of vanilla cream filling on it. You want enough to squish out the sides just a little when you press the next layer on. So…cake, filling, cake, filling, cake. Pour a small spoonful of ganache on the top and spread carefully to the edges. If it drips down the side a little, that’s just fine. It’s artistic, not sloppy!

Little cut-out cakes before trimming and slicing.

Little cut-out cakes before trimming and slicing.

Slicing layers

Slicing layers

And a layer of ganache. Yep, this is messy business!

And a layer of ganache. Yep, this is messy business!

Blog4 034Repeat until you’re out of little cakes. Aren’t they pretty?

Now you have cake scraps, leftover custard, and hopefully a little ganache. Layer them all with some whipped cream and maybe a sliced banana, and TA DA! Trifle.



So to recap…you have three things to do. Bake a cake, make a custard, and create a ganache. (Or if you like the chocolate crust idea, make that four things.) Assembling these puppies is the easiest part. For those of you who are tight for time, you could definitely use a yellow cake mix and a box of vanilla pudding mix (make it with cream, not milk, for a richer filling) and it will be just fine. You’ll miss a little bit of homemade flavor, but people will still scarf it up.

Have fun with these! Just think of the possibilities. You could: bake the cake in jelly roll pans and then cut out fun shaped layers with cookie cutters, put a layer of chocolate cake in the middle, or go all out and make them neapolitan with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake layers, spread a little raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers, or…whatever else you come up with.

These make me want to have a tea party!

4 thoughts on “Boston Cream Pies

  1. What? You just invited us all to a tea party? And you’re serving Boston Cream Mini Cakes and Trifle? Heading on over!

    These look amazing. Although there are a lot of steps, they’re easy ones. Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Thank you for visiting me over at Outsmarted Mommy today. I’m not sure that I want to thank you for luring me over here though because your recipes look too good!! These look amazing and I am most certainly going to try them. I’m a big fan of Boston Cream anything. 🙂 I do a share the love (or pimp them out) Friday over on my facebook page. Once I put the thread up please feel free to share your latest post/recipe. 🙂

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