Boston Cream Pie

Today’s my mum’s birthday, so obviously this weekend I had to make her a cake. I was on vacation for a couple of weeks in Europe so it had been a while since I was in the kitchen and the withdrawals were real. I didn’t quite have the brain power to come up with my own recipe (jet lag brain is real), so I gave my mum one of my 20 million cookbooks and told her to pick out a cake for me to bake.

If you don’t already have Layered, go and get it. It is one stunning book and it’s filled with lots of incredible cake recipes.

As we all know, I’m not much of a cake decorator. For whatever reason, I cannot frost a cake to save my life. I can make puff pastry from scratch, and most of the time I can get my macarons to turn out how I want them to, but cake decorating? Yeah, no. I just can’t do it. It always ends up looking like a very messy toddler was in charge.

Not something you want to give your mother.

This cake is super simple, but full of flavour. We’ve got two layers of light, fluffy, tender buttermilk cakes filled with a homemade vanilla pastry cream, topped with a rich, shiny chocolate icing.

Before this, I hadn’t made pastry cream since culinary school all those millions of years ago. You guys, I forgot how good it is! I want to make it all the time and put it in absolutely everything. Vanilla beans are key to any great vanilla infused dessert. Make this pastry cream guys, I promise you won’t regret it.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Boston Cream Pie

Yield: 10-12 slices


    Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
    Buttermilk Cake:
  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
    Silky Chocolate Icing:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


    Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the vanilla bean pod and seeds and milk together over medium-low heat. Bring slowly to a simmer, being careful not to burn the milk. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean pod.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch in a bowl with a balloon whisk.
  3. Temper the milk into the egg mixture by whisking a small amount of milk into the egg mixture to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs before transferring everything back to the saucepan. Place the saucepan back on the stove and cook over low heat. Whisk the mixture until it thickens and starts to bubble. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter until smooth.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover by pressing plastic wrap directly against the top of it to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until it is cool and thick, at least 2 hours or overnight.
    Buttermilk Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla, eggs, and egg yolks, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined.
  6. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
    Assemble the cake:
  1. Once the pastry cream has cooled and thickened, whisk to loosen it, if necessary. Transfer the pastry cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large round piping tip.
  2. Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be at the bottom. Place it on a cake plate or serving dish. Pipe the pastry cream on top, starting with an outer ring and working in toward the centre. Invert the second cake payer and place it top-side down on top of the pastry cream.
    Silky Chocolate Icing:
  1. Place the heavy cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the cream starts to steam and the chocolate begins to melt. Remove it from the heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the salt and vanilla. Whisk in the powdered sugar until just combined. Frost just the top of the assembled cake immediately or wait until the icing has cooled slightly.

Recipe from Tessa Huff's Layered cookbook

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