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Boston Cream Pie Recipe (Hot Milk Sponge Cake)

Greg Patent, author of Baking in America, combined a late 1800s hot milk sponge cake recipe with an 1851 custard recipe. It's a cake so good, it made it on the front cover of his cookbook. Although Greg states that it is best served the same day, we didn't get to it until 24 hours later, and three days after that it was gone. It was wonderful the whole time.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 9" cake


  • Hand mixer
  • Whisk
  • Cooling Racks (Preferably 2)


Custard Filling Recipe

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 3" long Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, Split Lengthwise I used an equal amount of Vanilla Paste instead.
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Large Egg Yolks

Hot Milk Sponge Cake Recipe

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Chunked
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Glaze Recipe

  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped I used an equal amount of milk chocolate chips instead.


Make the Custard

  • Combine cream, cinnamon stick (if using), and vanilla bean (or vanilla paste) into a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. DO NOT turn your back or it will boil over and make a mess (trust me on this).
  • Remove from the hot burner, add in the sugar, and whisk until dissolved. Let it sit for an hour.
  • 325* oven.
  • Grab a 9" glass pie plate and a baking pan that is big enough to hold the pie plate. You will add boiling water to the baking pan to reach halfway up the pie plate later. If you plan on using a kettle or stovetop to heat your water, and not the microwave, start heating it now.
  • Return to your cream mixture. Stir any skin on the surface back into the filling. Strain, if desired. Personally, I'm not messing with that foofy step, and the custard was still plenty smooth. If you would like to, use a fine mesh strainer and strain it back into the saucepan.
  • Strained or not, heat the mixture until almost boiling in the saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, while heating the cream mixture, crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk them.
  • Once the cream has almost reached the boiling point, slowly, carefully, pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. Resist the urge to beat the heck out of the egg yolks. Gently whisk the yolks and cream instead. For smoother custard, strain the egg yolk mixture, now officially termed a custard, right into the pie plate. I skipped the straining, as you may have guessed.
  • While you can pour the mixture into the pie plate and then place the pie plate into the baking pan, I simply had the pie plate in the baking pan from the start. I don't trust myself to make that maneuver without sloshing it everywhere.
  • Add the boiling water halfway up the sides of the pie plate.
  • Set custard into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or just until the custard is set. Your custard is done when the tip of a sharp knife stuck into the middle of the custard comes out clean.
  • Carefully remove the custard from the baking dish. That water is HOT and you don't want to spill it or your custard. Set aside to cool to room temperature, preferably on a wire rack.
  • 350* oven.
  • Grease a 9" cake pan using Pam with Flour, Baker's Joy, or your favorite method of choice. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed or parchment paper. While the original recipe says to flour the pan, I find that unnecessary with the parchment paper. I had zero sticking issues.
  • Combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Combine milk and butter in a heavy, small saucepan over low heat.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until the eggs have lightened in color and feel thicker, in just a few minutes. Grab the sugar and, on medium speed, slowly add in the sugar, and then turn the mixer to "high" and beat for five minutes.
  • Add in vanilla extract.
  • At this point, I paused to heat up the butter and milk in the microwave to a boil. If you are using the stovetop, you may want to begin that now, while completing the next step.
  • Using a low speed, pour in the dry ingredients, beating just until the mixture comes together. Do not overbeat! Be gentle with the batter. This will not take long.
  • Grab the boiling hot milk and cream mixture and, with the hand mixer on low speed, pour the mixture into the batter over a period of 15-20 seconds. Once it is smooth, STOP MIXING.
  • Pour the batter into the pan.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will look done, be golden brown, and spring back when you lightly touch the center.
  • Cool for ten minutes on a cooling rack.
  • Before inverting, you may want to run a knife along the edges, to loosen any stuck-on bits for clean removal. Cover the cake with the cooling rack and invert. Remove the parchment (or wax) paper. Cover the cake with a second rack and set right-side up to finish cooling.
  • If you are steady of hand, use your electric knife for a clean horizontal cut through the middle of the cake. Otherwise, any long, sharp, serrated blade will do. Set aside the top half, and place the bottom half cut-side up.
  • Pour or spoon the custard filling onto the cake layer. Smooth it almost until it reaches the edges. The weight of the second layer, which you may now place over the top, will help it scoot along to the edge.
  • Refrigerate the cake.

Prepare the Glaze

  • Stovetop Method: In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer, and add the chocolate. Stir with a whisk until the chocolate is close to melted. Remove from the heat and keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. Set aside for a few minutes, with occasional stirring, to let the mixture thicken.
  • Microwave Method: Place cream and chocolate in a microwave safe container (I use an extra large measuring cup). Heat for 30 seconds, stir, then heat again. Continue this process for 30 seconds at a time, repeatedly stirring and heating as necessary. With my machine, after a minute, the chocolate isn't fully melted, so I whisk it until smooth, zapping it an extra 20-30 seconds again if needed. Let cool to thicken slightly.
  • Pour the thickened glaze over the top of the cake. Smooth glaze to the edges, letting some drip over the sides to make it extra eye-appealing. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until set. Refrigerate. For extra clean slices, stick a long, sharp knife in hot water. Wipe off the water and slice into servings, wiping off the blade and repeating as necessary.
Keyword Company Worthy, Sponge Cake, Vintage Cake Recipe, Vintage Recipe