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. Congratulations on your newest family member, Nancy. Abby is absolutely adorable.

    Congratulations, too, on the creation of a gourmet looking rendition of Boston Cream Pie. Love how you have stayed true to the New England treat but jazzed it up with a tad of orange.

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  6. That puppy is the cutest! Have fun with her. I remember when our Anne was a puppy. Boston Cream Pie is something I ate all the time growing up, it has been years since I have had one. Your recipe is inspiring me to head to the kitchen and find the ingredients. yyuuuummmmmmm, can’t wait to try it.

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  12. This is so so in my bucket list for ages. It looks delectable and the orange flavor is the perfect twist Nancy! I will make it very soon. And having a dog, and such a cutie, is a life changing experience, especially if you don´t have kids. Have a great day!

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  14. Hey Nancy!! You used the chocolate!!! 🙂 Love it! Thanks for the shout out. . 🙂 This cake/pie looks FABULOUS!!! Oh my goodness!! LOVE it! and Abigail Ass Kicker is the CUTEST puppy ever!!! I’m so happy for you and Tony! and hey, keep the photos coming. . that’s what FB is for! 😛

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  17. Aaah, your puppy is so cute and I am a huge pet lover!! Your Boston Cream Pie looks to die for and that is something I haven’t had forever!!

  18. Laugh out loud funny! I can’t wait to find adorable puppy toys for my furry niece.

    Major ” YUMMY!” on the Boston cream cake. This cake is one of D’s favorite. I can’t wait to try out this recipe =D

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  20. OK so I think malteses are the cutest lil things ever! Abby is adorable! I’m completely with you on the whole no-pet thing too, I don’t think Michael and I will get one, possibly ever (but we both have allergies as well)–we just want like a ton of babies instead 😛

    Anyway! Boston Cream pie=deeeelicious! This looks so good to me right now, and I have a cold so you should get your tushy to NYC and bring me some? Mkthxbye! 😛

  21. Abby Ass Kicker. Too funny! I see she is keeping you two busy. And love the history lesson! It’s always fascinating how desserts get their name, including when it’s actually a cake and not a pie. Funny how that happens, right?

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  27. Hello Abby! I need to learn from your hubby. I’ve been wanting to have a dog but hubs doesn’t like it and forbids me to have one. *sad face* But hey, this boston cream pie, or cake, looks absolutely fabulous! Love the combination and chocolate ganache. Orange + chocolate= oh lala….

  28. Well, your sore arms had to be worth it with all that whisking, because this looks SO GOOD! And Abby is so sweet! Enjoy her and be sure share her on your blog. Our kids have been begging for a dog for a long time, but we have 3 cats and a snake and adding a dog to the mix isn’t gonna happen right now.

  29. ahh your puppy is sooo adorable!!!!! I love how your husband did all the right research despite your protests and having had a dog before I can tell you for sure that all of the late nights you are having now and the training you will have to do will all be worth it in the end when you have a dog that loves you more than anything! It’s also not bad coming home to such a cutie after a long day at work 🙂

  30. I’ve just finished eating dinner, and a slice of Boston creme pie would be wonderful right about now. Beautiful photos!

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