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Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie consists of a thick, rich pastry cream that gets sandwiched between two layers of hot milk sponge cake and drizzled with dark chocolate ganache.  What more could you ask for?

Have you ever wondered why Boston Cream Pie is called pie versus cake?  Some say this dessert got its name back in an era when bakeware was scarce and bakers used pie tins for baking both pies and cakes. The words pie and cake were used interchangeably.  If that’s true, it only makes sense that some people back in the day referred to this cake as a pie, since it was baked in a pie tin.  Regardless of what it’s called, I find it too hard to place this recipe under the category of pies versus cakes, so I’ll just place it in both categories…just because I can!

I haven’t made a Boston Cream Pie in years until now.  Life gets so busy…so many delicious recipes to make and not enough time if you know what I mean.  I only have time to bake on the weekends and I always have the hardest time choosing the 1 or 2 recipes that I want to make, because there are so many wonderful recipes I’d love to make and share.

The other day, I ran across a recipe for Boston Cream Pie on one of my favorite food bloggers site, Sally’s Baking Addiction,   She had posted it from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, The Perfect Cake.  When I realized it was an ATK recipe it really spiked my interest.  ATK tests their recipes over and over until they consider them to be perfect.  Instead of experimenting for hours in my kitchen trying to create the perfect Boston Cream Pie, why not try their recipe, that’s already been tested and approved.

Let’s talk about the make-up of this cake, I mean pie.  There are three parts to this recipe…

  • Pastry Cream
  • Hot Milk Sponge Cake
  • Chocolate Ganache

PASTRY CREAM

Let’s start with the pastry cream.  The great thing about this recipe is that although it takes a while to make it, it can be done in steps, some of which can be made a day in advance, starting with the pastry cream.  The pastry cream can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  If you make the pastry cream the same day that you’re baking the cake layers, make sure you make it first and allow at least 2 hours of refrigeration time for it.

The pastry cream is easy to make.  I added half & half to a saucepan and heated it to a simmer.  Then I added about half of it to a mixture of beaten eggs, sugar and flour, and whisked it vigorously to temper the eggs.  (If you add eggs directly to the hot mixture on the stove top, the eggs will cook up into lumps of scrambled eggs in your pastry cream).  I added the egg mixture back to the pan and cooked it until the mixture became very thick.  Next, I mixed in some butter and vanilla.   Lastly, I poured the pastry cream through a wire mesh strainer and chilled it for 2 hours while I baked the cake.  Note:  It’s important that you place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream before chilling it.  This keeps a film from forming on the top of the pastry cream.

HOT MILK SPONGE CAKE

The sponge cake is easy to make.  I heated milk and butter together in the microwave until the milk was very hot, not boiling, and the butter was melted.  I added the mixture to eggs, sugar, flour and leaveners and whisked everything together.

For the cake layers, I greased 2 nine inch cake pans.  Then I cut 2 rounds of parchment paper, placed them in the pans and then greased the parchment paper.  This cake tends to stick easily so make sure you do this important step.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

The chocolate ganache is SO easy to make.  I used a 4 ounce Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar for the ganache.  You can use chocolate chips if you want instead of the bar of chocolate.  However, the recipe calls for 4 ounces of chocolate and the bar of chocolate is exactly 4 ounces.

To make the ganache, I heated some heavy whipping cream and a little bit of corn syrup to a simmer.  Just a simmer, not boiling.  I removed it from the heat and poured it over broken up pieces of chocolate and allowed it to sit for about 5 minutes.  Then I stirred it until the cream and melted chocolate were well combined.  Note:  If you’re not a fan of corn syrup you can omit it from the ganache.  The main contribution from the corn syrup is shine.

I poured the chocolate ganache over the top center of the cake and used an offset spatula to spread the chocolate to the edges of the cake.  Then I let gravity do the rest…allowing the chocolate to run over the edges of the cake.  I refrigerated the cake, uncovered, for 2 hours until the ganache had time to set up before slicing it.

So you see, it takes a while to make this cake pie, but you can make the pastry cream and the cake layers a day in advance and just assemble the cake and make the ganache the following day when you want to serve it.

Make sure you read the post and recipe thoroughly before making the recipe.  There are several steps to this recipe but they are all easy.

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Boston Cream Pie


  • Author: Cindy @ My Country Table
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 Servings 1x
Scale

Ingredients

PASTRY CREAM

  • 2 cups half & half
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

HOT MILK SPONGE CAKE

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon 2 percent or whole milk
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Instructions

PASTRY CREAM

The pastry cream needs to be made and chilled prior to making the cake, so make sure you allow plenty of time for the pastry cream to chill.  You can actually make it the day before you bake the cake.

  1. Add the egg yolks, sugar, and salt to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the flour and set aside.
  2. Add the half & half to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, until the mixture just begins to simmer.  Pour about half of the hot half & half into the egg yolk mixture and whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds.  (This is called tempering).  If you add the eggs directly to the pan of hot half & half, you’ll end up with pieces of scrambled egg in the pastry cream).  Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining half & half.  Cook over medium-low heat,  whisking constantly until the mixture thickens,  This takes between 4 to 5 minutes.  Raise heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring vigorously, until bubbles start to pop on top.  Remove from heat.  Add the butter and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  3. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl.  Pour the pastry cream into the strainer, using a large spoon to push the pastry cream through the strainer.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream, covering the entire surface.  Chill the pastry cream for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before spreading between cake layers, so that it has time to soften for easy spreading consistency.

HOT MILK SPONGE CAKE

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.  Line each pan with a round of parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.  Set aside.

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the milk and butter to a 2 cup measuring cup and microwave until it’s hot.  Stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer.  Whisk the eggs for a few seconds and add the sugar.  Whisk on high speed until light and creamy, about 4 minutes.  Add the hot milk/butter mixture and whisk by hand until combined, then whisk in the dry ingredients. The batter will have small bubbles on top and it will be slightly thick.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans.  Bake until the tops of the cakes are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine took a little longer.  Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool.  Meantime, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator so it has time to soften.
  5. Once the cakes are completely cooled, run a thin sharp knife around the edges and remove cakes from the pans.  Peel the parchment paper from the bottom of one cake layer and place the layer on a cake plate.  Spread the pastry cream over the top of the cake layer, then place the second cake layer on top.  Gently push down on the top layer to adhere it to the pastry cream.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  1. Add the whipping cream and corn syrup to a small pan and bring just to a simmer over medium heat and remove.  Meantime, break the chocolate into pieces and add to a 2 cup measuring cup.  Pour the hot whipping cream mixture over the chocolate.  Allow it to sit for 5 minutes without stirring.  Using a small fork or whisk, whisk the mixture until combined and smooth.   You should no longer see any traces of cream in the chocolate.
  2. Pour the ganache on the center of the top of the cake.  Using an offset spatula, spread the ganache evenly just to the edges of the cake, allowing gravity to take control of the ganache and pulling it over the edges here and there.  In other words, let it do its own thing.
  3. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving, giving the ganache time to set up.  If you refrigerate the cake overnight, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baked

Keywords: boston cream cake, cakes,

Recipe slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction & America’s Test Kitchen.

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