Monday, April 6, 2009


We spent many weeks in New England when I was growing up. With a father from New Hampshire and grandparents who were born, bred and raised New Englanders (they called my brother, Mark "Maahk") we flew that SFO->Logan route many, many times. Yet, I unfortunately didn't get to spend as much time in Boston as I'd always wanted to. Thankfully - we found PLENTY of lobster, Boston Cream Pie and baked beans all over New England... one doesn't need to be in the city proper to enjoy!

Boston Cream Pie supposedly originated at the Parker House Hotel by a chef named M. Sanzian. It's what we all now recognize to be a cake, but it's speculated that it was called a pie because in the 1850's, the line between a cake and pie was quite thin and many cakes were baked in pie tins.

Pretty yolks - you know this is gonna be good

One of the reasons I always claim to not like cakes is because of the frostings out there. Whipped cream, buttercream - they make the finished product gorgeous but I don't enjoy them in my mouth. Boston Cream Pie is so different since it's topped with a rich chocolate icing and filled with vanilla pastry cream.

Boston Cream Pie {BCP}:
2-9 inch yellow cakes
[~4 cups of milk] pastry cream recipe
chocolate glaze (recipe at end)

Just as I would suggest you do, I made this up with my favorite recipe versions of the components. I decided to try Cooks Illustrated's Fluffy Yellow Cake which would have been a lot better had I not over-baked it a little. I won't be typing out the recipe here since as many food bloggers know - apparently this is not allowed since I was not given permission. However, it wasn't the greatest yellow cake I've ever had so please use your favorite as long as it will yield 2-9" layer cakes. Heck go ahead and even use a box mix!

I decided I wanted more layers but didn't quite have enough filling for 4!

The custard in the center is my auntie's famous recipe (family is laughing now if they in fact know that "recipe") but I would suggest you do your favorite vanilla pastry cream recipe keeping it on the thicker side with a roughly 6 T cornstarch to 4 cups milk ratio. Putting some vanilla bean scrapings in would make it even better - and perhaps a little splash of Grand Marnier (doesn't everyone use a splash of Grand Marnier in their pastry cream?!)

Since my cake was a little browned (dark pan) I decided to cover all of it

The chocolate glaze recipe I'll leave for you at the end of this post. But of course go ahead and use your favorite chocolate icing instead of mine, if you'd like - as long as it is quite thick and will firm up as it cools. The white frosting is just powdered sugar mixed with milk until it got to the right consistency.

Who better to serve it to than Dad? (and Mom!)

This is my kinda cake. It'd only be better with even MORE pastry cream between the layers. I personally like a little custard with my cake.

Ah, a dessert that definitely puts Boston on the map. And speaking of remembering Boston...I leave you with the line my brother and I still giggle and say to each other - quoting our family friend who'd take us from New Hampshire to Boston for our flight home each visit:
"Maahk, hurry kiss ye Gammie goodbye and get in the caah. Takes over 3 ouhs [hours] to get to Bahston."

How excited was I when I spotted Valrhona Chocolate at Trader Joe's?

Chocolate Glaze:
8 oz. good-quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used 56% cacao)
2/3 cup heavy cream

2 T corn syrup

Finely chop the chocolate and put into a small bowl. Bring the corn syrup and cream to a boil. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate; let sit about 20 seconds then stir until smooth.

This is enough to cover all sides of cake. If you only want it to cover the top and drip down the sides, 1/2 would be fine.


  1. Your cake looks amazing!! I totally agree. Doesn't it almost feel like you're 'tricked' when the most amazingly decorated cake lets you down because the frosting is meh. I think the crumb on your cake is amazing. I've tried CI's fluffy yellow layer cake twice and both times I deflated the mixture when folding. Either I underwhipped or overwhipped the egg whites and I overstirred when trying to incorporate them into the batter. Mine was not fluffy yellow cake, it should have been called cornbread

  2. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Boston Cream pie but so rarely see it here in Seattle. I have got to try this recipe!

  3. That Boston Cream Pie looks fantastic! Very beautiful too!