Easy Boston Cream Pie Recipe (Using Cake Mix)

One wholeEasy Boston Cream Pie recipe on a cake plate.
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Boston cream pie is a yellow buttery sponge cake with creamy custard filling this is topped with a fudgy chocolate ganache glaze. This recipe keeps it easy, using a cake mix for simplicity, but with a quick technique that keeps the sponge cake texture.

Slices of cakes on plates, with remaining cake on a cake plate.

The History of Boston Cream Pie

Why is it called pie when it is a cake? That is the million-dollar question! Apparently, back in the mid-1800s when it was invented, pie plates were the most common cooking vessel. These cakes were originally baked in pie plates, and thus called “pie.” Boston cream pie was named the official state dessert of Massachusetts in 1996. If you want to know more about iconic Massachusetts food, take a look at our state dinner post.

How Do You Make Boston Cream Pie?

There are three simple components to this cake:

  1. Cream Filling
  2. Sponge Cake
  3. Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Step One: Make the Cream Filling

  • We start with making the cream filling because it takes a while to cool.
  • Combine the egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch together. It will look a little bit like cooked egg yolk.
  • Add this yolk mixture and the half and half to a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Raise the temperature and let it boil for one minute.
  • Remove the pan from the stove and whisk in butter and vanilla.
Egg whites and sugar in bowl.

Step Two: Refrigerate the Cream Custard

  • The custard should be nice and thick, but it will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Transfer the custard into a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the the custard and press along the top, as well as on the sides of the bowl, to remove any air pockets. The plastic wrap should be directly along the surface of the custard. This keeps a film from forming on the top of the custard.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Boston cream filling in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap.

Step Three: Beat Egg Whites for the Cake

  • This recipe takes the easy route to a buttery sponge cake and uses a cake mix. To get that sponge-like texture, we whip up the egg whites separate from the yolks. Beat them on high speed with a whisk attachment until they form stiff peaks.
  • To test if they are stiff, use a spoon or your whisk attachment to scoop into the egg whites. If it leaves a crevice and a peak that stands tall, it is ready. If the peak starts to droop, beat it some more.
Bowl of egg whites that were beaten to stiff peaks.

Step Four: Mix Cake Ingredients

  • Put all of the cake ingredients, except for the egg whites, into a large mixing bowl and beat for two minutes.
  • Gently fold in the egg whites. To fold in the egg whites, use a large spatula, and cut into the egg whites, scooping the spatula under the batter mixture, then turn over onto the egg whites. Do this softly so that you keep the texture of the egg whites.
  • You will end up with a batter that has lots of little air bubbles, and little pockets of egg whites. All of the egg white should be incorporated throughout the batter.
  • Line cake pans with parchment paper and spray the paper and pans with nonstick spray. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before assembling.
Bowl of cake batter with egg whites folded in.

Step Five: Begin Assembling the Cake

  • Place one layer of the cake onto a cake plate or serving platter.
  • Spoon the custard filling over the top of the cake, to the ends. You may have as much as a half cup of custard left over.
One layer of yellow cake on cake platter, with cream filling being spread over the cake.

Step Six: Make the Ganache

  • It is best to make the ganache right before pouring over the cake. It should pour easily onto the cake, only requiring a little guidance from your spatula to coat the top of the cake and begin falling down the sides.
  • Place the cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is melted.
    *Note: I normally love dark chocolate, but prefer semi-sweet chocolate for this recipe. Use the baking squares, not chips. Chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape in baking, so the squares melt much better.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the filling.
  • Pour ganache over the top. Spread gently to the cake edges.
Ganache frosting being poured over Boston Cream Pie.

Tips and FAQs

Can I use something other than corn syrup?

Corn syrup gives the ganache the classic Boston Cream Pie shine. It is gorgeous, but if you don’t want to use corn syrup you can substitute honey. While not exactly the same, it still gives a little gloss. You could also leave the corn syrup out entirely. It is not necessary for the flavor of the ganache.

What if my custard has lumps?

Some small lumps in the custard is normal. If you want a completely smooth custard, strain it using a fine-mesh sieve.

Does Boston Cream Pie need to be refrigerated?

Because of the custard filling, Boston Cream Pie does need to be refrigerated. Wrapped tightly, it will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can I make this ahead?

Both the custard and the filling can be made up to 2 days in advance. The ganache should be made right before assembling. If you want the entire cake made and assembled in advance you can do that up to 24 hours ahead.

Related Recipes and Links

More Massachusetts Recipes:

More Chocolate Recipes:

Pinterest Pin: Creamy, fudgy Boston cream pie.

If you like this recipe, please share it with your friends! And once you taste it, let me know your thoughts by providing a review.

Slice of Boston Cream Pie on a plate.

Boston Cream Pie

An easy sponge cake is made using a cake mix for simplicity. The cake is filled with a creamy custard and topped with a rich fudgy chocolate ganache glaze.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Resting Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 549 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Cream Filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, cooled
  • 1 package (3.4 ounce) vanilla instant pudding

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate Use baking squares, not chocolate chips, for best results
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Making the Custard

  • Separate eggs and store egg whites for another use.
    In a small bowl, mix egg yolks with sugar and cornstarch.
  • Add egg yolk mixture and half and half to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
    Increase heat until it begins bubbling. Let it bubble for 1 minute.
  • Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
  • Pour into a bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly against the custard. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Making the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line with parchment circles and spray the parchment as well.
  • Separate egg whites from egg yolk. Save egg yolk for later in the recipe.
    Place egg whites in a mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment of your stand or hand mixer, beat on high speed for several minutes, until stiff peaks form. (See notes under step 3 of the blog for tips on how to know if you have stiff peaks.)
  • In a separate bowl, mix together cake mix, egg yolks, milk, butter, and pudding mix and beat for 2 minutes.
    Gently fold in egg whites.
  • Evenly pour batter into the cake pans. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
    Cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from pans and cool completely.

Making the Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • Heat cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted.
    Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Use immediately.

Assembling the Cake

  • Place one layer of cake onto a cake plate or serving platter.
    Spread the custard over the top of the cake layer, spreading to the edges.
    Place the second cake layer on top of the custard.
    Pour the ganache onto the center of the top cake layer. Once all of the ganache has been poured onto the cake, use a spatula to spread to the edges. Allow some of the ganache to drip down the sides.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Notes

The nutritional facts provided are only estimates. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Nutrition

Calories: 549kcalCarbohydrates: 67gProtein: 8gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 181mgSodium: 523mgPotassium: 212mgFiber: 2gSugar: 42gVitamin A: 842IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 192mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Cake, chocolate, cream, custard, dessert
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