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Boston Cream Pie

This American classic, first made by a Boston chef in the 1850s, isn't actually a pie at all, it's a cake: two sponge layers with custard-cream filling and a shiny chocolate glaze. This recipe calls for a 9-by-2-inch cake pan; if you use an 8-inch wide pan, the batter will overflow.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake
Boston Cream Pie

Source: Holiday Baking 2002, Special Issue 2002


  • Unsalted butter, for cake pan
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. To make cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper; set aside.

  2. Sift together cake flour and salt. Sift again, twice; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water; whisk until mixture is warm, about 110 degrees, and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; place bowl on mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat egg mixture on high until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine milk and split vanilla bean. Place over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let boil. Remove and discard vanilla bean. With egg mixture beating, pour hot milk into egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Turn off mixer. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan.

  4. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

  5. To make filling: Prepare an ice-water bath. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. (It is essential that mixture come to a boil.) Remove from heat.

  6. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. (It is essential that mixture bubble again.) Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.

  7. Transfer filling to a medium bowl. Place the bowl in the ice bath. Stir from time to time until mixture cools; it thickens as it cools. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming. The filling may be refrigerated overnight at this stage, or it is ready to use.

  8. To make glaze and assemble cake: Split cake into two layers; spread bottom half with chilled filling. Place in refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes. Wrap remaining half of cake with plastic wrap; set aside.

  9. In a medium-size heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

  10. Remove cake from refrigerator; top with reserved layer. Transfer cake to serving plate; pour chocolate glaze over top. Allow to set 20 minutes before serving.

Reviews (11)

  • Steph Trimble 16 Jun, 2013

    This recipe is terrible. I am an experienced baker and could tell while making the cake batter that something was very wrong. I was not surprised when the cake fell in the oven (Even after adding baking soda as suggested in other reviews) and it Tasted like and old dish sponge. Waste of time and ingredients. This should be removed from the Internet. I rely on Martha Stewart's website for fairly flawless recipes and this is the first time I have been very disappointed. DO NOT MAKE THIS.

  • strestine 21 Apr, 2013

    Lesson learned about reading reviews! As everyone said previously, the glaze and the custard were spot on, and the cake was really disappointing, especially after all the effort that went into it. It turned out really heavy and chewy even thouGh I followed the recipe to a T. Not sue if adding baking soda/powder would be enough to fix this, so I will probably make a different cake altogether to go with the glaze and cream from this recipe the next time.

  • Lwillicats 17 Mar, 2013

    I just made this cake, but I should have read the reviews first. It was fine until I added the milk. The batter was nice and fluffy. But as soon as I drizzled the milk slowly in, as directed, the batter became very very thin. Flour did not help. And the resulting cake is more like a frittata than sponge cake. The filling came out fine, but I had to quickly whip together another kind of cake to use the filling.

  • terbear72 4 Jan, 2012

    I just made this cake. It looked great about 1/2 way through, then when the timer went off, I opened the oven and it had completely dropped! I will take another reviewers advice and add 3 t of baking soda.

  • ninakaursee 8 Sep, 2011

    Is the sponge cake supposed to be cut in half horizontally in order to spread the filling?

  • khgotch 4 Jan, 2011

    The creme and the chocolate glaze were perfect but the cake recipe is certainly flawed. I think the baking soda was accidentally ommited. I cooked it without soda thinking that the eggs were intended to be the rising agent, but that didn't do the trick. The cake itself was very chewy and dense. I would reccomend adding three teaspoons of baking powder or soda to make this recipe perfect!

  • cheen1981 11 Oct, 2010

    looks delicious. I can't wait to try this recipe

  • Googe 11 Feb, 2009

    It looks like from the recipe, it calls for 1/8 tsp. salt.

  • evelynloren 24 May, 2008

    what can i use instead of cornstarch, since unavailable.

  • chefbb317 12 Feb, 2008

    1/8 teaspoon salt

  • JParent 12 Jan, 2008

    The cream for this recipe calls for 1 salt. Does this mean 1 teaspooon? That's what I did and it was much too salty. Also the amount of constarch made the mixture much too thick.

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