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Boston Cream Pie - Sponge or Butter cake?

I'm making a Boston Cream Pie today and can't decide whether to use a sponge cake or a classic yellow/butter cake.

Any input?

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  1. traditionally it's sponge cake. your call.

    1. I'm not an expert but I always thought of Boston Cream pie as being a butter cake. Looking on the web, I found 3 times more recipes that use yellow butter cake than sponge.

      I'm just not a big fan of sponge cake.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        only because most people today prefer butter cake. the original parker house recipe is for sponge cake, which to modern palates can seem too "dry".

        1. Sponge, without a doubt and read this fun thread:


          Make whatever you want to, but it better be sponge! ;-))

          2 Replies
          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Um...well, er...

            Kidding! It was, it was! (I realized I should make meringue daily - it's a bit like dusting or polishing silver in that it appeals to my appreciation of instant gratification. Like "oooh, look what I did!" Yes, I'm that simple.)

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              My recipe is on the thread bushwickgirl linked to. I like a white or yellow cake (not sponge). Use only one layer and cut it in half otherwise the cake will be way too thick. I find most people like the white or yellow. The cool thing is you get two Boston Cream Pies with one batch of cake. That's the frugal Yankee way!

            2. It's a buttery sponge, but not a classic yellow butter pound, cake.

              1. Sponge is what I think of.

                1. And the debate goes on...

                  1. Just wondering why some of you think sponge cake is traditional for Boston Cream Pie?

                    I have a collection of very old cookbooks including a 1923 hardcover version of The Boston Cooking School by Fannie Merritt Farmer. She has a lovely chapter on cakes - sponge and others. Her recipe for Boston Cream Pie is not a sponge cake.

                    Not saying spongecake is bad. In fact it's wonderful. Just not traditional in my opinion.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      Apparently, the original recipe was introduced by the "original Parker House" (a restaurant or boarding house not sure which) used sponge.

                      However, we are free to improve things as we see fit. While the chowhound police may, the Boston Cream Pie police will not invade our homes and seize the cake if we vary from the original.

                      I'm not, particularly, trying to be snarky but I believe in getting ideas from recipes and making them or modifying to make them enjoyable for me and my family. Sponge cake for me is alright. I like butter cakes better. I absolutely abhor angel food cake. It's like eating a pillow. Ok.... I'll stop now.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Yes, Parker House = sponge, but the recipe morphed into butter cake and for a century that has been more traditional. Just wanted to see why people thought sponge was traditional.

                        As I said before, make it how you like. I use ganache rather than the traditional fondant icing so I'm very open to change and making a good recipe even better.

                    2. Does it really matter?

                      Because once you settle that issue, you still have to resolve whether it should be pastry cream or custard ... and then figure out why it's called a "pie" when it's really a cake.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        LOL So true! The beautiful thing is no matter how you slice it, it's delicious!

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          And don't even get started on the chocolate glaze on top. I use a soft ganache which could start major debates. And on one of Bobby Flay's throwdowns, the person lightened the pastry cream w/ whipped cream. I loved it and haven't gone back to plain since. I'll just call it Boston Cream Pie-esque.

                          1. re: chowser

                            I also use ganache (recipe in bushwickgirl's link), sometimes I use the pastry cream in that recipe, sometimes I also mix the pastry cream with whipped cream - that's called Diplomat Cream, and depending on who I am making the dessert for I might also just use whipped cream). Versatile.

                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                              That's right--diplomat cream. The name slipped my mind and I was too lazy to google it. It's been bugging me, though so thanks!

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            No question there - I live for pastry cream. And ganache (semi-sweet, no added sugar) is the way to go...

                            But yeah, it's a cake with an identity crisis, and bigger fish than me will have to fry that one.

                            1. re: shanagain

                              as a bostonian, i don't feel like the cake has any kind of crisis, lol. pikers changing it, or gussying it u,p might though.

                          3. I use vanilla genoise baked in a tin that is buttered and generously dusted with mixture of sugar and flour - this gives a nice crispy edge on the cake which goes well with the pastry cream and chocolate:)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ElsieB

                              Interesting! I'll have to try this sometime.