This Boston Cream Pie recipe is a New England classic. It is made with fluffy yellow cake, creamy pastry cream, and topped with a rich chocolate ganache—what’s not to love?!

A cake spade taking out a piece of cake.

Best-Ever Boston Cream Cake Recipe

Whenever I go to a donut store, I ALWAYS get the Boston Cream Donut. I love the creamy custard filling inside the donut. Unfortunately, I don’t go to the donut store as often as I would like to. This is probably good for my wallet and hips, but that’s another story.

This leaves me with a dilemma, though. So when I need to taste that delicious Boston Cream filling, what’s a girl to do? Make Boston Cream Pie

“One of our readers, Sher, said about this recipe,” Just finished it, and it’s PERFECT! It turned out so delicious and gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.” One of our readers, Sher, said about this recipe, “Just finished it, and it’s PERFECT! It turned out so delicious and gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.”

I love this cake. While growing up in New England, I remember this cake being a fixture in every bakery. This cake is a classic for a reason…I mean, look at it!

Finished Boston Cream Pie Recipe on a cake pedestal.

Fluffy cake, creamy custard, and rich chocolate ganache it is everything my dreams are made of. Make this Boston Cream Pie recipe to satisfy all your cravings for that yummy custard cream filling layered between two cake layers.

This dessert would make the perfect birthday cake for a family dinner or any holiday dinner. But if you know anyone who loves Boston Cream Donuts as much as I do, then no excuse is needed to make them this cake!

When I set out to find a recipe for this New England classic, I turned to the Massachusetts-native recipe publication Cook’s Country. Their recipe is dead-on and worth the extra effort! I only made a few changes to their recipe, mostly increasing the vanilla extract in the pastry cream and yellow cake.

What is Boston cream filling made of?

You will use half-and-half egg yolks, sugar, a pinch of salt, flour, unsalted butter, and vanilla extract to make this delicious custard. That’s not very many ingredients to whip up into the delicious filling for the Boston Cream Pie.

What is Boston Cream Pie?

Boston Cream Pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts. That is a state I could live in for that reason alone! Owners of the Parker House Hotel in Boston say that the Boston Cream Pie was first baked at the hotel in the late 1800s.

Sponge cakes with custard fillings may have existed then, but none had been served with a chocolate frosting. It was not common practice to bake a cake with a chocolate topping, so when the hotel chef first created this recipe, it became a popular item on the hotel’s menu.

The name started as Chocolate Cream Pie and then moved to Parker Cream Pie before being settled on the name we know it by today, Boston Cream Pie.

Boston Cream Cake Ingredients and Cost

RECIPE COST: $7.56

PER SERVING COST: $0.63

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have.

  • 2 cups half-and-half – $1.50
  • 6 large egg yolks – $0.30
  • 2 cups granulated – $0.46
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour – $0.34
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter – $1.00
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract – $1.24
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder – $0.22
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt – $0.02
  • ¾ cup whole milk – $0.09
  • 3 large eggs – $0.30
  • ½ cup heavy cream – $0.59
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup – $0.18
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate – $1.32

How To Make Boston Cream Cake

STEP ONE: First, make the pastry cream. Then let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours. 

STEP TWO: Next, make the yellow cake and pour it into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, and then let cool.

Butter and vanilla being added to the thickened cream.

STEP THREE: After the cakes are cooled, assemble the cake by placing one cake in the center of the cake plate. Then spread the pastry cream evenly onto the cake.

STEP FOUR: Place the second cake round on the pastry cream. Set it in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate glaze.  

Pastry cream being spread over a layer of vanilla cake.

STEP FIVE: Make the chocolate glaze. 

STEP SIX: Then, pour the chocolate glaze onto the center of the cake. Spread the glaze to the edge of the cake, allowing some of the glaze to drip down the sides. 

Chocolate gnash being poured on top of the layer cake.

STEP SEVEN: Chill the cake in the fridge for at least three hours. 

STEP EIGHT: Slice and serve! 

A slice of cake being listed from the Boston Cream Pie.

How to make Boston Cream Filling

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until just beginning to simmer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt until combined. Whisk in the flour until combined, and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Take the half-and-half off the heat, and slowly whisk in ½ cup of the half-and-half to the yolk mixture to temper.
  4. Pour the tempered yolk mixture into the half-and-half in the saucepan. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  5. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, whisking constantly, for 8 minutes.
  6. Then, increase the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until bubbles burst on the surface, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted and incorporated.
  8. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour the pastry cream through the strainer.
  9. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and place it directly on the surface of the pastry cream.
  10. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Boston Cake Cook’s Note:

  • This cake can be made up to 1 day in advance. 
  • When making the pastry cream, please don’t skip the tempering step. Doing this will ensure that your eggs don’t cook too quickly, altering the texture and thickness of the finished cream. 
  • Leftover cake can be stored in a cake container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. I like this cake container the best. 

Tools you need for this Boston Cream Pie Recipe

  • medium saucepan
  • whisk
  • mixing bowls
  • fine-mesh strainer
  • 9-inch cake pans
  • hand mixer or stand mixer
  • offset spatula
  • cake stand

How to store Boston Cream Cake

Store the cake in the refrigerator. The cake should be covered loosely with foil or plastic wrap and stored for 3-4 days.

Should I refrigerate Boston Cream Pie?

Yes, for food safety reasons, you should refrigerate this cake. It should be covered loosely with foil or plastic wrap and will stay fresh for 3-4 days.

Boston Cream Pie Recipe FAQs

What is Bavarian cream vs Boston cream?

Bavarian cream and Boston cream are two different types of cream fillings used in desserts:

1. Bavarian Cream: Bavarian cream, also known as crème bavaroise, is a rich and smooth custard-based cream. It is made by combining a pastry cream (thickened custard) with gelatin and then folding in whipped cream to give it a light and airy texture. Bavarian cream is often flavored with vanilla, but it can also be infused with other flavors, such as chocolate, fruit purees, or liqueurs. It is commonly used to fill cakes, pastries, and desserts.
2. Boston Cream: Boston cream is a classic American dessert filling in pastries like doughnuts and cream pies. It consists of a thick pastry cream or custard sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake or inside a doughnut. The top is usually glazed with a thin layer of chocolate ganache or icing to complete the sweet treat. Boston cream is known for its smooth custard and chocolate combination, creating a delightful contrast of flavors and textures.

Is Boston cream pie a cake or a pie?

Despite its name, Boston cream pie is actually a cake, not a pie. The dessert consists of two layers of sponge cake sandwiched together with a creamy custard filling, often flavored with vanilla. The top of the cake is usually glazed with a layer of chocolate ganache or icing, giving it a glossy and decadent finish.
The term “pie” in its name is a historical reference, as it was first created in the mid-19th century at Boston’s Parker House Hotel, where cakes and pies were often baked in the same pans. The name “pie” stuck, and Boston cream pie has since become a beloved classic American dessert, known for its delightful combination of soft cake and rich custard filling.

What flavor is Boston cream?

Boston cream typically consists of a light, fluffy sponge cake filled with smooth and creamy vanilla custard. The top of the cake is then glazed with a luscious layer of chocolate ganache or icing, adding a rich and decadent chocolate flavor to the dessert.

More Decadent Desserts

A close up picture of the finished cake with glistening chocolate ganache on top.
4.52 from 52 votes

Boston Cream Pie Recipe

Recipe Cost $ $7.56
Serving Cost $ $0.63
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
12 people
This Wicked good Boston Cream Pie recipe is a New England classic. It is made with fluffy yellow cake, creamy pastry cream, and topped with a rich chocolate ganache—what’s not to love?!

Equipment

  • medium saucepan
  • whisk
  • mixing bowls
  • fine mesh strainer
  • 9-inch cake pans
  • hand mixer or stand mixer
  • offset spatula
  • cake stand

Ingredients
 
 

FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:

FOR THE CAKE:

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped fine

Instructions

MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until just beginning to simmer.
    Heat the cream until simmering.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt until combined. Whisk in the flour until combined and no flour pockets remain. Take the half-and-half off of the heat, and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the half-and-half to yolk mixture to temper.
    Temper the egg mixture with 1/2 cup of the hot cream.
  • Pour the tempered yolk mixture into the half-and-half in the saucepan. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
    Pour the heated cream mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, whisking constantly, for 8 minutes. Then, increase the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until bubbles burst on the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Take the saucepan off of the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted and incorporated.
    Ass in the butter and vanilla and whisk until silky and smooth.
  • Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour the pastry cream through the strainer. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and place it directly on the surface of the pastry cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
    Pour the hot pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer.

MAKE THE YELLOW CAKE:

  • Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
    Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter is melted. Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
    Melt together the milk and butter.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar together on high speed until light and airy, about 4-5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and butter until combined.
    Pour in the butter and cream mixture.
  • Add in the flour mixture and pulse the mixer on and off until the flour is just combined. Quickly divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
    Whisk in the flour into the egg and milk mixture.
  • Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the tops are light brown, about 20-25 minutes. Move the cake to a wire rack to cool completely in the pans. Invert the cakes onto wire racks and then carefully peel off the parchment paper. Then, invert the cake again.
    Bake the cakes until light golden brown.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:

  • Put one of the cakes in the center of a cake plate or pedestal. Spoon the pastry cream onto the cake and spread it evenly to the cake edges.
    Place a cake round on a cake stand and spread the pastry cream on top.
  • Gently place the second cake round on top of the pastry cream so the cake is bottom side up. Using your fingertips, gently press onto the cake to make it level. Place the cake in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze.
    Place the second cake layer on top of the pastry cream.

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute, and then whisk until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture sit, whisking every minute until the chocolate has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes in total.
    Add the chocolate to the hot half and half and whisk until smooth.

TO FINISH:

  • Pour the chocolate glaze onto the center of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze to the edges of the cake, letting some of the glaze drip down the sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.
    Side shot of a finished Boston cream pie cake.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 258mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 685IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 2mg

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This Boston Cream Pie first appeared on Food Folks and Fun on March 10, 2011. I have since updated the pictures.

4.52 from 52 votes (33 ratings without comment)

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44 Comments

  1. Angelique says:

    Made the recipe exactly as stated. Presentation is beautiful. My cream was a little thick, but I blame my new stove, I think it for a little too warm and dry up a little firmer. Glad to say it did not effect the taste. A bit labor Intensive. But so worth it

  2. Tory Graham says:

    Just made this for my husband’s birthday. Great recipe, I enjoyed baking it. Thanks!

  3. I’ve made this several times now including today for Christmas. While it is a bit labor intensive and more or less an all day effort… It. Is. Beyond. Worth. It! My family loves it (the hubs requested it for his birthday in September) and it’s easily one of my favorite desserts now. Thank you for the recipe!

  4. Been an addict of Boston Cream Pie for fifty years. This is the best version I’ve tried in a LONG time. Well worth the time. TIP: if it feels like the custard, or cake, is a bit stiff, microwave a piece for 30 seconds, snd it softens perfectly without affecting the taste.

  5. I’m not sure why but my cream isn’t turning out. I followed everything exactly and after 4 min on a low simmer it separated and looked like I had added butter to it and it separated. I have done it twice and it did the same thing both times. So I’m not sure what’s going on but I wasted a lot of ingredients re trying it to make sure I didn’t mess anything up. I don’t understand why it separated like there is butter already in it. It’s so weird.

    1. Hi Amanda, It’s hard to say without being there with you. My guess is the cream became too hot. Usually, when it separates like that, the egg mixture is cooked too rapidly, and the protein becomes over coagulated and separates from the liquid.

  6. 100% pleased with it all, from ingredients to finished cake. Will be making again.

  7. Michele Phillips says:

    can you make the custard and cakes a day ahead of time and assemble the next day?

    1. Food Folks and Fun says:

      Yes, you can make the custard and cakes for this recipe a day ahead and assemble the next day. This approach can actually make the process more manageable. Store the cakes wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature, and keep the custard in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Assemble the pie on the day you plan to serve it​

  8. amazing recipe. made it for my husband’s birthday cake and it tastes great. he loves it. especially the cream filling, yum!

  9. This a great recipe. Very easy to follow. It is one of my husband’s favorites and he will usually ask for this as his birthday cake. The pastry cream is spot on and so easy to make. This cream is also very good to use in homemade cream puffs! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

    1. Dayna Jankowski says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write this sweet review, I really appreciate it:)

  10. Wonderful recipe! I made it for my birthday. Now it takes time but it is so worth it. I used to make it years ago I can’t remember which brand it was but there was a cake mix for it but now that I bake I wanted to do one from scratch. This is the recipe believe me. Just take your time and you will be rewarded. Thank you so much

    1. Dayna Jankowski says:

      Thank you for your kind review!