Help! Tips for Good Boston Cream Pie?

updated May 2, 2019
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Kitchn Reader Carolyn wants to make her boyfriend this classic dessert for his birthday. Think we can help her out?

Help! The Boyfriend’s birthday is this Sunday (eeeeeeek!). Being the Boston native that he is, he’s requested (duh) a Boston Cream Pie. Sounds easy enough, right? Except I’ve never made one, and there seem to be about ten zillion various recipes floating around the internet, all very different. Some have a custard filling, others go with pudding … some use ganache for the topping, others do fondant … it’s enough to make my brain hurt.

If someone can deliver unto me the Perfect Traditional Boston Cream Pie recipe, I promise I will mail you a slice. (Or at the very least, email you a photo of the slice.) Thanks, Kitchn readers!

Wow! We think a Boston Cream Pie is a great choice for a birthday cake, and it’s totally do-able in your home kitchen. At its most basic, this cake is simply two layers of yellow cake with pastry cream in between and chocolate frosting on top. Combine those three things any which way, and we think you’ll end up with something pretty good!

If you want to go truly traditional and classic, you can’t get much better than the recipe from the Omni Parker House in Boston. This is where the Boston Cream Pie was theoretically invented and its still served there today. Here’s their recipe:

Boston Cream Pie from the Omni Parker House (opens to a pdf)

In this recipe, we’d skip the fondant and go for a rich chocolate ganache instead. It’s just as authentic and, in our opinion, a lot yummier.

Also, some people find that sponge cake can be a little dry and crumbly. If you’re in this camp, you can either brush some simple syrup onto the top of each layer before assembling the cake or you could substitute the sponge cake with basic yellow cake.

You should wait to assemble the pie until the day you’re going to serve it, but you can make the cake part the day or two before. This should save you a little work on the day itself.

Here are some links to guide you through the various steps:
How to Make Yellow Cake
How to Make Pastry Cream
How to Make Ganache
How to Make a Simple Syrup

Good luck and please let us know how it turns out! Does anyone else have advice for Carolyn?

(Image: Boston’s Best Cream Pie by Ken Baily, available from $37.99 from