Small Batch Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie

This small batch gluten free Boston cream pie is super easy to make, as well as incredibly delicious. With soft and buttery vanilla sponges, silky-smooth vanilla pastry cream and a generous layer of luxurious chocolate ganache, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The recipe makes a 6 inch cake that serves about 4-6 people… though you might not want to share it once you have a taste. Yes, it’s that good.

Small batch gluten free Boston cream pie on a white cake stand.

You’re going to love this week’s small batch cake recipe. It’s everything comforting and delicious, in the form of a two-layer, 6 inch cutie of a gluten free cake. Today, we’re talking small batch gluten free Boston cream pie.

First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Boston cream pie is a cake. Not a pie. The rather confusing name has its roots in history, when cakes and pies were cooked in the same baking pans, and the words were used interchangeably.

Regardless of its somewhat misleading name, Boston cream pie is hands down one of the most delicious cakes out there. After all, what’s not to love about the combination of a soft and buttery vanilla sponge, velvety-smooth, luscious vanilla pastry cream and a generous layer of luxurious, glossy chocolate ganache?

A slice of gluten free Boston cream pie on a small dessert plate.

Each of these individual components on its own is, of course, incredibly delicious. But put together, they create a cake that’s somehow more than the sum of its parts. To me, it’s the very definition of comfort food, and a slice of this cake is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Just like with my small batch chocolate cake and birthday cake recipes, I made this one small batch as well. The recipe makes a 6 inch cake that serves about 4-6 people (depending on just how big of a sweet tooth they have).

It’s also gluten free – not that you could possibly guess it! On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to make: no stand/hand mixer needed (though you can use them if you don’t feel like making it by hand) and it’s prepared with minimal fuss, but with the most amazing results.

So, without further ado: here’s how you make THE BEST gluten free Boston cream pie.

Small batch gluten free Boston cream pie on a white cake stand, with a few slices already cut.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How do you make gluten free vanilla cake sponges?

Making these gluten free vanilla cake sponges truly couldn’t be easier. You don’t even need a stand or a hand mixer (though you can use them if you want). This recipe uses the so-called “reverse creaming method”, pioneered by Rose Levy Beranbaum, which gives the cake a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture and an even aeration, while also minimising doming.

Here’s how to make THE BEST gluten free vanilla cake sponges:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (gluten free flour blend, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt) and sugar. Add the softened butter,
  2. and, using your fingertips, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix together the milk, egg and vanilla, and add half the wet ingredients to the dry.
  4. Whisk well until combined and smooth,
  5. then add the rest of the wet ingredients.
  6. Whisk well until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between two buttered and lined 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins, and smooth out the top.
  8. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 22-24 minutes,
  9. until golden brown on top
  10. and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Then, allow to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

The first 6 steps of the 10 step process of making gluten free vanilla cake sponges.

The last 4 steps of the 10 step process of making gluten free vanilla cake sponges.

Assembling the small batch gluten free Boston cream pie

When it comes to decorating and assembling cakes, it truly doesn’t get much more straightforward than Boston cream pie. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure that your sponges are completely cooled. If needed, level them off with a sharp serrated knife. Your pastry cream should be cooled completely to room temperature, but you don’t need to chill it in the fridge.
  2. Place one of the sponges on a cake stand or serving plate of choice, so that its bottom faces downwards.
  3. Give the cooled pastry cream a good whisk to smooth it out, then transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe the pastry cream (in concentric circles) on top of the sponge, then use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer that fully covers the sponge. (Now, you could omit the piping and just plop the pastry cream on top of the sponge and smooth it out, but I’ve found that piping gives a much prettier finish).
  4. Place the other sponge on top of the pastry cream, so that its bottom faces upwards – this will give your cake a nice flat top.
  5. Prepare the chocolate ganache (by pouring hot double/heavy cream over dark chocolate) and then allow it to cool and thicken slightly at room temperature (for about 30 minutes) or in the fridge (for about 15 minutes) with occasional stirring.
  6. Pour or spoon the ganache onto the top sponge, and use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer and to guide it to gently drip down the sides. You can create a few swirls on top for a bit of extra decoration.
  7. Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes (or in the fridge for about 15 minutes) before slicing and serving.

(And please excuse the band-aid on my finger in the photos below – I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a loaf tin, as one does. Suffice to say, I didn’t emerge victorious from that fight.)

Assembling the gluten free Boston cream pie.

Decorating the top of the gluten free Boston cream pie with chocolate ganache.

A quick note about the consistency of the chocolate ganache

Unlike with drip cakes, you don’t want your ganache to be very runny for a Boston cream pie. Here, the drips shouldn’t be thin or reaching far down the sides of the cake (like they do, for instance, with my Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake or Triple Chocolate Cake).

Instead, the ganache should be thicker, so that the drips down the sides of the Boston cream pie are shorter and wider, like in the photo below:

Small batch gluten free Boston cream pie on a white cake stand.

For this, you want the ganache to still be runny, yet also thick enough so that it falls off a spatula almost like a “waterfall” rather than a thin drizzle. Also, when the ganache falls off the spatula back into the bowl, it shouldn’t immediately level out and disappear into one chocolate ganache pool – instead, it should pile upon itself.

Slightly cooled chocolate ganache in a glass bowl.

And that’s all you really need to know in order to make the most marvellous small batch gluten free Boston cream pie. I really hope you’ll love it as much as I do – it’s incredibly fun to make, and gosh, it’s so very delicious.

I confess that I might have tested this recipe more times than was strictly necessary, simply because I wanted to have another taste. Yes, it’s that good.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

A slice of gluten free Boston cream pie on a small dessert plate.

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Small batch gluten free Boston cream pie on a white cake stand.
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Small Batch Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie

This small batch gluten free Boston cream pie is super easy to make, as well as incredibly delicious. With soft and buttery vanilla sponges, silky-smooth vanilla pastry cream and a generous layer of luxurious chocolate ganache, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The recipe makes a 6 inch cake that serves about 4-6 people… though you might not want to share it once you have a taste. Yes, it’s that good.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 45 minutes
Bake/Cook Time 22 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 7 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For vanilla pastry cream:

  • 180 g (¾ cup) whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 UK medium/US large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 50 g (¼ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 20 g (3 tbsp) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
  • 20 g (1 ½ tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed

For gluten free vanilla sponges:

  • 150 g (1 ¼ cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend from 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 20 g (3 ½ tbsp) almond flour (You can substitute it with an equal weight of the gluten free flour blend if you're allergic to nuts, but note that the cake will dry out a bit faster.)
  • 150 g (¾ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 85 g (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 UK medium/US large egg, room temperature
  • 135 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

For chocolate ganache:

  • 60 g (2 oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 90 g (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) double/heavy cream

Instructions

For vanilla pastry cream:

  1. In a saucepan, cook the milk and vanilla over medium-high heat until boiling.

  2. In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and smooth, then add the cornstarch and whisk to combine.

    Tip: The process of whisking the egg yolks and sugar together is called 'blanching'. The sugar protects the egg proteins, preventing lump formation during cooking. This way, your pastry cream will end up perfectly silky-smooth.

  3. Pour the hot milk in a slow stream into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking continuously.

    Tip: Adding the hot milk slowly to the eggs raises their temperature slowly (while also diluting them), preventing scrambling. This process is called 'tempering'.

  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a high heat with constant whisking until thickened (about 1-2 minutes).

  5. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, whisking well until the butter has melted and the cream is smooth and glossy.

  6. Transfer the pastry cream into a bowl and cover it with a piece of cling film pressed directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on top.

  7. Set aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature. You don't need to chill the pastry cream in the fridge.

For gluten free vanilla sponges:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly butter two 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins and line their bottoms with rounds of baking/greaseproof paper.

  2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using it), sift together the gluten free flour blend, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.

  3. Add the softened butter and, using your fingertips, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.

    Tip: This order of adding the ingredients (that is, working the butter into the dry ingredients plus sugar before adding the wet) is known as the “reverse creaming method”. It gives the cakes a very even aeration, a delicate melt-in-the-mouth texture and a uniform rise (with minimal doming).

  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk and vanilla bean paste, and add them to the flour-butter mixture in two batches, whisking well after each addition, until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps. (Again, you can do this by hand using a balloon whisk, or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.)

  5. Evenly divide the cake batter between the two lined cake tins and smooth out the top.

  6. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 22-24 minutes or until well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  7. Allow to cool in the cake tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Assembling the cake:

  1. If necessary, level off the sponges with a sharp serrated knife.

  2. Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.

  3. Give the cooled pastry cream a good whisk to smooth it out, then transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe the pastry cream (in concentric circles) on top of the sponge, then use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer that fully covers the sponge.

    Tip: You could omit the piping and just dollop the pastry cream on top of the sponge and smooth it out, but I’ve found that piping gives a much prettier finish.

  4. Place the other sponge on top, with the bottom of the sponge facing upwards (this will give you a nice flat top). Gently press down on it to ensure that it sticks to the pastry cream layer.

For chocolate ganache:

  1. Place the chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.

  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the double/heavy cream until it only just starts boiling.

  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then stir together until smooth and glossy.

  4. Allow it to cool and thicken slightly at room temperature (for about 30 minutes) or in the fridge (for about 15 minutes) with occasional stirring.

    Tip: Unlike with drip cakes, you don’t want your ganache to be very runny for a Boston cream pie. Instead, the ganache should be thicker, so that the drips down the sides of the Boston cream pie are shorter and wider. For this, you want the ganache to still be runny, yet also thick enough so that it falls off a spatula almost like a “waterfall” rather than a thin drizzle. Also, when the ganache falls off the spatula back into the bowl, it shouldn’t immediately level out and disappear into one chocolate ganache pool – instead, it should pile upon itself.

  5. Pour or spoon the ganache onto the top sponge, and use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer and to guide it to gently drip down the sides. You can create a few swirls on top for a bit of extra decoration.

  6. Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes (or in the fridge for about 15 minutes) before slicing and serving.

Storage:

  1. The gluten free Boston cream pie keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place (or the fridge) for 3-4 days.

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