Boston Cream Pie for a Retro Rad #SundaySupper

I’ve been pretty AWOL from blogging and social media this past week. Usually I’d insert a whiny rant here about how work is keeping me really busy or some other inane thing that sends me into a downward spiral of self-pity and depression. However, the reason for my absence is exciting news, and pretty damn adorable too:
The Husband and I are proud parents of a 10-week-old Maltese named Abigail Ass Kicker, Abby for short. I’ve never in my entire life been a pet person. I didn’t have a pet growing up. In fact, I’m extremely awkward and nervous around all small creatures (dogs, cats, children). The Husband, however, has always wanted a dog. I balked at this desire, since I’m a cold hearted bitch who doesn’t want my husband to be happy. I had a litany of reasons why we shouldn’t get one: they’re expensive; they require a ton of attention; I’m tired and stressed out enough as it is at the end of the day; we both have full time jobs, when will we have time to spend with a dog; it’s hard enough feeding the two of us and keeping our apartment non-bio-hazardous. You come up with the excuse, I’ve used it.

The Husband basically ignored me and started doing intense research into what kind of dog he wanted, where to get one, how to train it, working out a budget, etc. I caved. What can I say – I’m an incredibly weak willed woman.

We brought her home last Sunday and it’s been a roller coaster of a week. She’s the most precious thing ever. I’m totally going to become one of those people who constantly post photos of their dog on Facebook and gush over all the cute things she does. It has also been completely exhausting. She barks and cries every night, all night long, meaning we’ve both been seriously sleep deprived. I was walking around like a zombie most of the week.

So what does this have to do with Sunday Supper? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to talk about my puppy. Thankfully I made my offering for this week’s post before Abby joined the family, otherwise there’s no way I would’ve had something for today.

Sunday Supper is going old school, baby. Our theme: pick any retro recipe. Stay faithful to the original or modernize it for the 21st century. I chose to make Boston cream pie, one of my all-time favourite desserts. The name is misleading – it’s a cake, not pie. According to the (sometimes suspect) knower of all things, Wikipedia: this delicious dessert was “[c]reated by Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856” and “this pudding and cake combination comprises two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla flavored custard or crème pâtissière. The cake is topped with a chocolate glaze (such as ganache) and sometimes powdered sugar or a cherry.” My favourite part about the Boston cream pie’s history is that it was declared as the official dessert of Massachusetts in 1996. It’s actually a law. How awesome is that?! Maybe British Columbia can declare a national dessert and pass it out for free on major holidays. A girl can dream!
I chose different elements from different recipes to create my version. And to fancy it up for the 21st Century, I made an orange flavoured cake instead of the normal white/vanilla.

Orange Sour Cream Cake (adapted from Pastry Affair)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
zest of one orange
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter/grease two 8 inch cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla and almond extracts.

In a separate bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add it to the butter mixture. Lastly, pour in the milk and mix until the batter is uniform and smooth.

Pour the batter into your two cake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Slide a knife around the sides of the pans to loosen the cake, then invert onto the racks to allow to cool to room temperature before assembly.
Vanilla Pastry Cream (source: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours p. 448)

2 cups whole milk (I used skim and it was fine)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, slowly drizzle about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the yolk mixture – this will temper or warm the yolks so that they won’t cook or scramble. Whisking the entire time, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Place the saucepan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously and constantly (seriously, do NOT stop whisking!), making sure to get into the corners of the pot, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat. It’s amazing how quickly the mixture thickens up.

Whisking the eggs, cornstarch and sugar.

Whisking the eggs, cornstarch and sugar.

The egg mixture after tempering with a bit of hot milk.

The egg mixture after tempering with a bit of hot milk.

The thickened pastry cream after it came to a boil.

The thickened pastry cream after it came to a boil.

Whisking in the butter.

Whisking in the butter.

Whisk in the vanilla. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they’re fully incorporated and the cream is smooth and silky. If the cream is not smooth and you can see lumps in it (likely cooked eggs), then press the pastry cream through a sieve. Scrape the cream into a bowl. To store, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and to prevent that gross skin from forming on top. Refrigerate until cold.

The finished pastry cream.

The finished pastry cream.

A couple of comments. Damn, whisking pastry cream is hard work! Or maybe I’m just a major wimp (most likely the latter). I was dying. The cream becomes so thick and you need to constantly whisk it (I cannot stress this enough). My arms were actually sore later that night, true story. Hell, no pain no gain, right? Hopefully I burned off some calories to justify eating two slices of this cake!

Dark Chocolate Ganache

2 cups dark chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp, cut into 1 inch cubes
I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate, given to me by my fabulous friend Alice of Hip Foodie Mom. We exchanged foodie packages for Christmas. I couldn’t believe how many amazing goodies she sent to me. I’ll be writing about it soon in a post because the items she sent me has given me some pretty cool ideas for future desserts.
Place the dark chocolate into a large, heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the whipping cream to a boil. Pour half of it into the chocolate and stir until it’s melted. Pour in the rest of the cream and stir until fully incorporated. Drop the butter in a few cubes at a time and mix until the butter is fully incorporated and the ganache is smooth and silky. I left the ganache out on the counter for a couple of hours to firm up a bit so that it’d be the perfect thick consistency for frosting the cake. If you don’t have the time, then you can put it in the fridge for about half an hour.


The building blocks of a phenomenal dessert.

The building blocks of a phenomenal dessert.

Take one layer of cake and pour all the pastry cream onto it. My one gripe with the refrigerated pastry cream was that it was all chunky. I actually microwaved it for about 30 seconds to loosen it up a bit but it was still pretty gelatinous. I think it would’ve looked much better if I had left the pastry cream on the counter to cool to room temperature and then assembled the cake. It didn’t alter the taste one bit – the pastry cream straight from the fridge was super silky on the tongue, but it didn’t look that great when I was making the cake.

See?  The pastry cream looks as chunky as egg salad!

See? The pastry cream looks as chunky as egg salad!

Place the second layer of cake on top of the pastry cream. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and using an offset spatula, smooth it over the edges. Boston cream pies aren’t usually frosted this way but I needed to hide the hideousness of my pastry cream.
I brought this cake over to a friend’s for a dinner party and thankfully everyone enjoyed it. I absolutely loved it. The cake was soft, moist, and light, with a pleasing orange flavour that didn’t under or overwhelm. The pastry cream was smooth and velvety, and the dark chocolate ganache was the perfect complement in flavour and texture. Each element had the perfect level of sweetness. I had to give it all away to prevent myself from eating any more (because you know I would’ve finished this baby if it were in my fridge).
Take a nostalgic walk down memory lane by checking out the rest of this week’s fun ‘n funky retro recipes!

Sunday Supper Retro Appetizers:

Sunday Supper Retro Salads:

Sunday Supper Retro Breads and Sandwiches:

SundaySupper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Retro Sides and Veggies:

Sunday Supper Retro Desserts and Cocktails:

What fun to read the stories about the recipes! There’s lots of great food in the list. I admit I still make and enjoy many of them. Nice to see some updated versions too. Which one is your favorite?

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

72 thoughts on “Boston Cream Pie for a Retro Rad #SundaySupper

  1. Abby is very cute – glad that the husband twisted your arm to get this adorable, cute little puppy. A much better reason to take a break from blogging than working late hours 🙂

    The cake looks amazing and certainly everyone was happy. Have a great rest of the week! ~ Bea @ galactopdx

  2. Ooh your puppy is adorable!!I’ve also never owned a pet but I do love dogs!i hope she settles in quickly so you guys can get some sleep 🙂
    This Boston Cream Pie looks absolutely decadent and that chocolate ganache just takes it to another level!!Would love to take a big bite right now!!

  3. Woa!!! This cake looks dangerously delicious!!! OMG! You shouldn’t show me chocolate… you really shouldn’t. I have a chocolate addiction. THIS? Looks so up my alley. The vanilla cream…(screaming on the inside!!!!) I might have to make this cake.

    As for little Ms. Ass Kicker…so adorable!!! We had puppies when I was younger in JA but I “lost” one and my heart was broken. I can only adore pups from afar now!!! They are alot of work though, for real. But they love you. All the time. LOL! Its safe to say I’m not a pet person. I’m a get up and go kinda gal. I would certainly take pics of Abby constantly!

  4. V tasty stuff! I’ll bet your new furry friend was going nuts whilst she smelt all those good things cooking in the oven too!

    Making creme pat every week (last year in pastry classes) helped me to shape my arms, true story!!! It was a workout I had to do 3 times a week over 8 weeks! Shame I ate some afterwards 😉

  5. My husband “threatens” to get a dog (he grew up with one…) and has enlisted the 2 kidlings to join his army. I will not back down because, without a doubt, I will be the dog’s caretaker. No thank you! 🙂

    BUT congrats on your new addition! 😉

    Oh, and your cake looks delish!

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  7. Wow – the cake itself looks and sounds incredible. I am in need of a killer, foolfproof yellow cake. This has orange in it but that’s easy to change. The cake looks so moist, soft, and lovely! And then that pastry cream, despite the chilling situation, what amazing results! Soooo thick and luscious! And then the ganache, well, of course that’s fab. I wish I could have a slice!

  8. I love frosting and cream. I’ve always loved boston cream filled donuts and I’m sure I’d love this cake. The hint of orange is a nice touch. I will need to find a time to make this and get invited to some friends house!
    I think it is so sweet it was your husband begging for the 4-legged addition- I find it’s usually the other way around. Maybe he had the higher sense too, that the little furry girl would relieve some stress. It’s hard to stay sour and angry with a darling little furball tucked in your hands.
    She is Adorable 😉 …. and will be worth all the extra time, money and emotion.

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