join me in the kitchen

Boston Cream Pie (Cake)


My dad’s favorite dessert is Boston Cream Pie.  When my mom asked me to make a cake for his birthday, my brain went crazy with ideas but I kept coming back to Boston Cream Pie.  It is his favorite, after all!  I had never made a Boston Cream Pie before, so I researched several recipes before hitting the kitchen. 

My research turned up so many recipe variations!  In case you weren’t already aware, Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake.   There are many versions of the story of how it came to be and why it is called pie instead of a cake.  Though the details of the stories tend to vary, most agree that it originated at The Parker House Hotel (now called the Omni Parker) in Boston.  I walk and drive by this hotel quite frequently so it is fun to know some major dessert history was made there!  (Fun fact: Boston Cream Pie is the official state dessert of Massachusetts!  What’s your state dessert?!)

I decided to combine a couple of recipes and make a cake that is not 100% traditional for the following reasons:

  • I topped the cake with a chocolate frosting instead of a ganache
  • I made butter cake instead of sponge cake

I chose to use a firm frosting instead of drippy ganache because I wanted a firm surface on which to pipe.  (In the end, however, I decided not to pipe “Happy Birthday” on it because I was pleased with the classic look of the cherry on top!)

I chose to make moist butter cake instead of separated sponge cake because in my experience sponge cake can be super dry.  Dry cake is a pet peeve of mine so I wanted to be sure that wouldn’t be the case here.

I decided to stick with The Omni Parker’s  recipe for the filling, which I was very happy to find on!


This recipe has three components:

  1. Cake
  2. Filling (Pudding/Pastry Cream)
  3. Frosting

I suggest you make the filling first as you will get best results if it sets in the fridge over night (or at least a few hours.)  Next bake the cakes so they will have time to cool.  Finally, make the frosting and then assemble the three components.

I was extremely happy with the results this mish mash of recipes yielded!  (As was everyone who ate it!)  

  • The cake was unbelievably moist! 
  • The filling was the perfect texture, a little on the egg-y side, but delicious.   (I will definitely use this recipe in the future for trifle and tart recipes!)
  • The frosting was to die for.  It is thick and rich, yet not sickeningly sweet.  (This may just be my new go-to chocolate frosting!) 


Check out what I made for my dad’s birthday last year—ROOT BEER Iced Vanilla Cake!  (My dad lovvvves root beer!  When I was little he used to take me to the A&W drive-in and the waitresses would roller skate our food and root beers to the car window!  A&W Root Beer is the best! )


Boston Cream Pie:


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • In a saucepan bring the butter, milk, and light cream to a boil. While this mixture is cooking, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and eggs in a bowl and whip using a whisk.

    When the cream/ milk/butter mixture reaches the boiling point, whisk in the egg mixture and cook to boiling.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent it from burning.  As it begins to thicken, clumps may form.  Use a whisk to smooth it out. Boil for 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to press the pastry cream through a strainer into a bowl.  Whisk in vanilla extract. Cover the surface with plastic wrap touching the pudding.  (This prevents a film from forming.)  Chill overnight if possible, or for at least a few hours. 

     Butter Cake

    • shortening
    • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
    • 1/2  cup  butter, melted
    • 8 oz.  sour cream
    • 1 1/2  cups  granulated sugar
    • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
    • 1/2  cup  egg substitute
    • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
    • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 3/4  cup buttermilk

     Rub shortening on the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans.  Sprinkle with flour.  Set aside.

    Combine 1/2 cup butter and sour cream in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until well blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until well blended.

    Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 F for 27-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

    Chocolate Frosting*

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/3  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  cups  powdered sugar, divided
  • Place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add cocoa and 1/8 teaspoon salt; beat at low speed until well blended. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar; beat at low speed until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.


    Do not begin assembly until cakes and filling are completely cooled.

    1. Once ready, slice both cakes evenly in half (into two thinner cakes each) using a serrated bread knife.  Place first cake layer  on cake plate. 
    2. Use a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and fill it with filling.  Pipe a circle around the top of the cake.  Use a spoon to scoop filling from the bowl into the circle on the cake.  (This is a trick I learned from Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery.  By creating this “border” around the cake, you prevent the filling from squirting out when you place the second layer on top.  This is really a great technique and it works like a charm.  Thanks, Joanne!)
    3. Repeat with remaining layers except for top.
    4. Spread chocolate frosting over top of cake using an offset spatula.     
    5. Top with a cherry!

    *This recipe yields much more frosting than you need.  Make some cupcakes to use it up! 🙂


    Recipes adapted from and

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