Originally invented in the 1800's at Boston's Parker House Hotel, the Boston Cream Pie has earned its rightful reputation as a classic American dessert. It's a beauty of a cake, with two moist, spongy layers of butter cake creating a sandwich with a thick layer of vanilla custard in the center and a luscious slathering of chocolate ganache over the top. Unlike many layer cakes, the layers are exposed, giving it a raw, rustic appearance. I've tested many different recipes, and I've decided that I like this one from Martha Stewart's Everyday Living best of all, because the cake is moist while still holding its shape. If you're short on time, substitute instant vanilla pudding for the pastry cream.
Note: Yankees fans, if you don't try this, you're missing out.
Learn The Technique!
Right this way for a step-by-step slideshow of the techniques used in this recipe!
- Active time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- Pastry Cream (see recipe)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; set over very low heat.
With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until thick, lightened in color, and mixture holds a trail for several seconds when beater is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Bring milk and butter to a boil. With mixer on low speed, add hot milk mixture to batter; mix just until smooth. Mix in vanilla; transfer batter to prepared pan, and smooth top.
Bake until golden and pulling away from sides of pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan; remove from pan, and transfer to a rack to cool, right side up.
Fill cake: For easy cleanup, place a piece of waxed paper under rack. With a serrated knife, split cooled cake horizontally (leave bottom half on rack). Spread bottom half with Pastry Cream to within 1/2 inch of edge; gently place top half of cake on pudding layer.
To make the chocolate glaze: In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil. Remove from heat, and add chocolate; stir until smooth.
Set aside to cool to room temperature and to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. When glaze has thickened, pour over filled cake. Using a small metal spatula, spread glaze to edges of cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Let glaze set, 15 to 20 minutes. Leftover cake can be refrigerated, loosely covered, up to 2 days.