boston cream pie

Okay, let me start by addressing what I know is on your mind: Why is it called “pie” when it is most obviously cake? I know… I know… what a mystery! Well, I used the good old internet and found out that we really don’t know for sure why the guy who made this back in the 1800s called it pie instead of cake. It is not a pie. It is truly a cake. We know this to be true, yet all these years later we still call it a pie.

Pie. Cake. Does it really matter? No, it does not. It’s delicious and an amazing creation that I make a few times a year, promptly getting the award for best mom of the year, even from my teenage daughter (anyone with teens knows this is quite an accomplishment).

The other day I received my daily email from Foodimentary, and when I saw that October 23rd is National Boston Cream Pie Day, well, I took that as a sign to make it!

Now, traditionally, Boston Cream Pie is a yellow cake layered with vanilla pudding/custard all under a beautiful chocolate glaze. I have two recipes from Hershey’s for this. The first is from one of those small recipe booklets that you could buy at the grocery store check out lanes (do they still sell those things???), and it’s from 2005. In that book the recipe is for the traditional way. The other recipe is from a recipe handout that I found at a grocery store a few years ago. That recipe makes the Boston Cream Pie completely chocolate. That’s right: chocolate cake with chocolate pudding and chocolate glaze. Sounds amazing, right? Right.

When my youngest son and I got out the ingredients to make this the other day, I asked him which he’d prefer, the traditional way or all chocolate. He wanted a bit of each. So we made the yellow cake but with the chocolate pudding. Excellent choice!

*Note: In the recipes below are a few minor changes to what is listed in the Hershey’s recipes. For example, I don’t use shortening or margarine, so butter is listed in the recipe below. Also, there are a few changes to the technique (putting the batter into two pans rather than one, and whisking rather than stirring, etc.).


Boston Cream Pie


1/3 cup butter, softened but not melted

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk


Heat oven to 350F.

Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans. Either grease and flour each one, or use silicone baking liners.

Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Into the butter mixture, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Beat well.

Divide the batter in half and pour each half into one of the prepared cake pans.

By putting it into two pans rather than one, you won’t have to slice the one cake in half horizontally after it’s cooled. Genius, right?

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove the cakes to a wire rack.

Cool completely.



1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch and cocoa.

Gradually add the milk and egg yolks; whisking until well blended.

Cook over medium heat and STIR CONSTANTLY!!!!

Once this comes to a boil, continue to STIR CONSTANTLY for 1 minute. It will be nice and thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Put into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold (takes a couple hours).

At this point you must resist the urge to grab a spoon and eat the whole bowl.


Chocolate Glaze:

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the water and butter until it begins to boil, then remove from heat.

Whisk in the cocoa immediately.

Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla.

Continue to whisk until smooth.


Now, to assemble this creation.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a large plate (I put bottom side up, since it’s flat).

Take chilled pudding out of refrigerator, stir, and spread it over the cake.

Place the second cake on top (bottom side down).

Pour the glaze onto the cake, putting it near the center. Then gently tilt the plate so that the glaze gets distributed over the entire top layer of cake, with some of it beautifully drizzling down the sides. Take lots of photos (wait … maybe that’s just me).

This is before all the tilting.


4 responses to “boston cream pie

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