Over the last several years, Boston Cream Pie has quietly built something akin to a cult following at the Bakehouse. It’s consistently established itself as a favorite among the many cake lovers who come our way!
While the name implies something creamy baked into a pie shell, the reality of Boston Cream Pie is something else altogether. Evan Jones, in his wonderful book American Food, said that it’s “really a cake disguised by this misnomer that remains unexplained.” The dessert’s name comes from an era when cakes and pies were pretty much prepared in the same pans, and the words “cake” and “pie” were used interchangeably. In the late 19th century, sweets like this one were called “cream pies,” or “custard cakes.”
Back in 1856, the then-newly-opened Parker House Hotel in Boston had a chef from France, Augustine Francois Anezin, who developed what we now know as Boston Cream Pie. His technique of pouring chocolate over the top of a custard cake like this was quite an innovation at the time. The moist butter-rich layer cake was then still a relatively new phenomenon in the world of pastry—it was only with the introduction of baking powder 20 years after Anezin worked his magic that they became common even in upscale settings. In December 1996, the state of Massachusetts declared Boston Cream Pie to be the official state dessert.
If you don’t already know it, it’s two layers of moist vanilla chiffon cake, filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream, covered with a lovely thin layer of vanilla butter cream and then last, but not least, rich dark chocolate ganache. Amy Emberling, Bakehouse Managing Partner, writes that, “We love to make classic foods, the ones that have passed the test of time. Boston Cream Pie lands in that category.” I agree. Take one bite and you’ll know why it has a whole state so devoted to it. Goes great with the Peru that we’re serving as the Roaster’s Pick this month!
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- Want to bake a Boston Cream Pie? Take a class with us at BAKE! or find the recipe is in Zingerman’s Bakehouse!
- Order one for pick up at the Bakehouse.