Boston Cream Cake

Hello friends! It’s been too long since I’ve written 😦 but I promise I have a grrrrrreeeat recipe to make up for it!

My brother-in-law is a fantastic chef from Italy who can do everything but dessert. I promised him that the next time we came over for dinner, I’d bring him a Boston cream pie, his favorite, to thank him for the fabulous dinners he cooks. Honestly, other than the doughnut, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a real Boston cream “pie” so I wasn’t sure where I’d find a recipe for one either.

I came across this recipe from King Arthur Flour a little hesitant because it called for packaged pudding mix for the topping on a from-scratch cake filled with from-scratch chocolate ganache. Not only did I find that an odd place to cut corners, but I’ve found that packaged powdered pudding mix is quite atrocious once you learn how to make your own.

So I did this…

Vanilla pastry cream. Pastry cream, mousse, and pudding are all made in the same general way. Milk and sugar are cooked, used to temper whisked eggs and cornstarch, and cooked again. The addition of whipped cream after cooling creates a mousse or a lighter pastry cream. It’s easy enough to master using the easy recipe for vanilla pastry cream below, and it will sure as hell impress your friends more than a prepackaged powder.

Pastry Cream

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes approximately 5 cups

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Medium saucepan, sieve or strainer

How to Do It

  1. In a medium saucepan, stir 2 1/2 cups of milk, sugar, and salt together until the sugar is dissolved. Place over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Whisk the cornstarch, flour, 1/2 cup of milk, and egg yolks together in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
  3. Temper the egg yolk mixture with a small amount of the hot milk. When the milk and sugar mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat and slowly pour a steady stream into the egg yolk mixture while continuously whisking. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan, and bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Boil for 30 seconds, and remove from the heat.
  4. Work the mixture through a strainer or sieve to smooth it out. Add the chunks of butter and vanilla extract, and continue to stir until the butter has melted and the cream is smooth.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool. Fold in the whipped cream until blended.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.  

Tip: Make it chocolate by adding 4 oz of semisweet chocolate when adding the butter, or change the extract flavor (almond, orange, etc) to change the flavor of the pastry cream. This can be used as filling or can be enjoyed alone as pudding. Mmmmm.

Boston Cream Cake

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes one 9″ cake

For the Cake

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Parchment paper, 9″ round pan

For the Chocolate Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line and lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla & almond extract, baking powder, and salt until thickened and light in color. Set aside.
  3. Combine the butter and milk, and heat in the microwave (or on a stove top if you prefer) until the butter is melted and the milk is hot.
  4. Take turns adding the milk and the flour to the egg mixture, whisking between each addition.
  5. When the batter is blended, pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or fork comes out clean and the sides have pulled away from the pan.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then remove it from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
  7. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate topping by adding the chocolate, corn syrup or agave nectar, vanilla, and cream to a medium stainless steel mixing bowl. Place the bowl on top of a small saucepan half filled with water, and simmer over medium heat. Continue to stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the cream begins to bubble slightly.
  8. Remove the chocolate from heat, and allow it to cool for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar until the chocolate has thickened.
  9. Cut the cake into two layers by slicing through it horizontally. Place one layer of the cake (cut side up) on a plate, and cover the half with the vanilla pastry cream. Place the second layer of cake on top of the pastry cream (cut side down), and cover the half with the cooled chocolate topping. Smooth the chocolate with a spatula.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes to absorb the flavors and soften a bit. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

It may not be any fewer calories than a Boston cream doughnut, but at least you won’t get that funky stale doughnut shoppe taste when you eat it. It will be gone way too fast for that.




  1. Might give this one a go (minus the chocolate topping) , looks yum!

    • The pastry cream by itself was really delicious, and no chocolate topping needed! If you haven’t yet, check out my Mocha Monkey cupcakes-those are easy enough to make without the chocolate 🙂

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