This 6-Inch Boston Cream Pie has all of the decadent goodness of the classic cake, and is perfect just for two! Layers of moist vanilla yellow cake sandwich a creamy vanilla pastry cream, and are topped with a silky chocolate ganache.
RECIPE AND POST UPDATED April 2021
After receiving a bit of feedback on the actual cake for this recipe, I have updated the recipe.
- The original cake in the recipe was a Genoise cake. A light and sturdy sponge cake that is leavened with eggs, rather than baking soda or baking powder. Making a Genoise is different than your standard sponge cake and it can be finicky.
- The new cake in the recipe is a standard Yellow cake. A sponge cake that is leavened with baking powder and baking soda. The cake also includes sour cream to keep it moist and tender.
6-Inch Boston Cream Pie
I always wondered why it is called a Boston Cream Pie when it is actually a cake. In doing my standard research on bakes, I found cakes and pies used to be baked in the same pans. And over the years, and development of a plethora of different cake pans, the Boston Cream Pie is now baked in cake pans, and just never dropped the name ‘pie’.
This classic cake was created in Boston, at the Parker House Hotel. It was originally named ‘chocolate cream pie’, before it was eventually given its current name. I would imagine this cake continues to be popular because it is like 3 desserts in one
- Moist Yellow Cake
- Creamy Vanilla Pastry Cream
- Rich Chocolate Ganache
Over the years, the cake and its flavors have taken on many different forms – donuts, cupcakes, and even cookies. But we are sticking to the classic layer cake in this recipe for Mini Boston Cream Pie.
6-Inch Layer Cake
The cake in this 6-Inch Boston Cream Pie is a standard yellow cake recipe, and I consider it a base yellow cake recipe. It makes a great Birthday Cake, snack cake, or if you just want a simple cake with Chocolate Frosting.
We bake the mini cake in 2, 6-Inch round cake pans to create the layer cake. Depending on how big you like your cake slices, you can easily get 4 to 6 slices of cake.
Yellow Cake Details
- Tender crumb
- Stays moist beyond day one
- Sturdy enough to support a layer of creamy pastry cream
- Mini, 6-inch cake
Vanilla Pastry Cream
The luscious cream in the center of the 6-Inch Boston Cream Pie is a vanilla pastry cream. Which, let’s be honest, is a fancy way of saying vanilla pudding.
What makes up a pastry cream
- Base – The pastry cream gets its rich texture from the egg yolk. The milk, cream, and cornstarch combine to make it creamy and thick. Though, what may be the most important part of pastry cream: the butter. Adding the butter at the end results in a silky custard.
- Flavor – I like to use vanilla bean paste in my pastry cream, because it has a robust and pure flavor of vanilla. Vanilla bean paste may be hard to come by, or just more than you’d like to spend. I get it. In which case, vanilla extract works just as well.
- Sweetener – I use pure maple syrup, which may seem a bit unconventional. I choose maple syrup as my sweetener whenever I can because I like the flavor it imparts to treats, and it is lower on the glycemic index. As long as it does not impact the end result. In this case, the liquid sweetener works great in a creamy custard.
Tips For Making A 6-Inch Boston Cream Pie
- Make the vanilla pastry cream first – The pastry cream needs time to set and firm.
- Use sweetener of choice in the pastry cream – Anytime I can use an unrefined sweetener without compromising the texture of the treat, I will. I like maple syrup for the flavor and that is unrefined. However, you can use regular granulated white sugar 1:1 if you prefer.
- Room temperature ingredients – Mixing and combining ingredients that are at room temp is easier. Plus, when all of the ingredients start at the same temperature, they bake better.
- Good chocolate for ganache – I recommend higher quality chocolate because it melts better. I usually use Ghirardelli chips or even Baker’s Baking Bars.
- Cool the cakes completely – Warm cakes will make the pastry cream melt. Make sure the cakes are completely cool before assembling the cake.
More Small Batch Cake Recipes
- Peppermint Mocha Layer Mini Cake
- Snow Day Cake (Almond Cardamom and Coconut)
- Easy Chocolate Mini Cake
- Classic Mini Yellow Cake (Neapolitan Cake)
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Hot Milk Cake
- Patriotic Berry Cake For Two
- Mini Angel Food Cake
6-Inch Boston Cream Pie
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk (2% will also work)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk, room temperature (any kind)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
- 2 teaspoons corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the pastry cream first – even the night before. In a small mixing bowl add the egg yolk, cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the milk. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.
- In a small saucepan add the remaining milk, heavy cream, and maple syrup (or sweetener of choice). Heat over medium heat until small bubbles start to appear along the sides of the saucepan. Do not boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Then very slowly drizzle in about half of the heated milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan – whisking constantly – and return to medium heat. Cook the cream until it starts to thicken and bubble – about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in the butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter melts.
- Strain the pudding over a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap – with the wrap directly touching the top of the pudding. This will keep a skin from forming on the top of the pudding. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the bottom of 2 6-Inch round cake pans with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly grease and flour the pans. Note – I like to use the Pam Baking Spray With Flour – makes things easier.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the milk and stir in the sour cream.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and oil. Mix until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and fold into the batter until just incorporated. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix until mostly incorporated. Finish by sprinkling the remaining dry ingredients into the batter and fold just until no dry streaks remain. Do not overmix the batter, and it is ok if there are a few lumps.
- Pour the batter equally into the prepared cake pans and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cakes are golden, spongy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tip – Use a cookie scoop to equally portion the batter into the cake pans.
- Cool the cakes in the pans set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then gently invert the cake pans onto the wire rack to release the cakes. Carefully peel away the parchment paper (if it stuck to the bottom of the cakes), and flip the cakes back over to cool on the wire rack completely.
- Make the ganache while the cakes are cooling. In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.
- In a liquid measuring cup (microwave-safe), heat the cream for about 20-30 seconds – until it is warm, but do not let it bowl over. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 2-3 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt.
- Add the corn syrup (this makes the ganache shiny) and whisk until the ganache is smooth and fully mixed. Set aside at room temperature to allow the ganache to thicken slightly and until ready to assemble the cake.
Assembling the Cake
- Set one of the cakes on a cake platter or plate. Smooth the pastry cream on top of the cake all the way to the edges. Set the second cake on top. Stir the ganache again so it is nice and smooth, and pour onto the top of the cake in the center. Using a spoon or offset spatula, smooth out the ganache to the edges of the cake, allowing some to drizzle down the sides.
- The cake is best enjoyed the day it is baked. Enjoy!
11 thoughts on “6-Inch Boston Cream Pie”
I had this book marked because it had a sponge cake which is the true Boston Cream Pie unless you buy a cheap one at the grocery, then it is just a plain yellow cake. Is the other recipe still available?
Hi Barb – I replaced the sponge cake with a yellow cake because readers were having trouble making the sponge. I can email you the original genoise sponge recipe I had for the Boston Cream Pie.
Loved this! Thank you! May put some orange in the cake next time. I did double the recipe and made two 8” cakes. Worked perfectly.
Hi Susan – I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the cake! And putting orange in it sounds like a delicious idea. Thank you so much for trying the recipe and the lovely feedback! Happy Holidays
Question: I only have 4″ spring form pans. I plan to divide the cake mixture and use two 4″ spring form pans. Also, I do not have a small electric beater and have never needed one. Can I wisk OR use my KitchenAid mixer on low speed? Thank you.
Hi Kathleen – I think using 2 4-inch pans will work. You may have extra pastry cream and ganache – which you could just eat as pudding! I would use your Kitchen Aid. I’ve never whisked a Genoise by hand and imagine the Kitchen Aid will be easier.
Thank you so much for your reply. I can’t wait to make it this week. I can’t find cake flour anywhere but saw that I can ‘make’ it by taking 2T of the four out of the bowl, then adding 2T cornstarch and sifting them together a half dozen times or so, Do you agree?
I would agree with that – and sifting the mix well!
Hello! Two questions. The instructions for the cake, are you supposed to use whole eggs and when do you add the salt? I did use whole eggs and did not use salt because I’m pretty sure it’s missing from the instructions. My pastry cream seemed not to set up thick enough. My caked did not seem to rise as high and I feel I should have let my ganache thicken a bit longer. Hubby thought it was wonderful and questioned my reasoning for wanting to changed anything. Which, by the way is a correct response. ???
Hi Elizabeth – I’m so happy to hear that your husband enjoyed the cake! And thank you for the questions – seems I had a couple of typos in the recipe :(. For the salt – it should be added when you sift the flour with the sugar (I made that correction in the instructions). And you were correct – it is the whole eggs. For the pastry cream – if you try it again, you can add a bit more cornstarch if you want it to be thicker – I wouldn’t do more than 2 more teaspoons – otherwise it may set too thick. And for the ganache – yes, letting it sit longer will thicken it more. And since this is a genoise cake, it won’t rise as much as a regular yellow cake, since there is no baking powder or soda. Thank you for trying the recipe and visiting the blog! 🙂
Thank you for responding to my inquiries! You confirmed my thought process. I will definitely make again!