Exploring Boston Cream Pie

Updated on June 12, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Source

From Humble Beginnings

In 1825, a 20-year-old youth named Harvey Parker from the small town of Paris, Maine, moved to Boston, Massachusetts. He had no family or friends, no job, and only $1.00 in his pocket. But Harvey had a head full of ideas and a heart full of ambition; he quickly landed his first job as a caretaker for a cow and a horse. Several more menial jobs followed, but then he was employed as a coachman for a wealthy Boston socialite, a position that changed his life.

Harvey often enjoyed his midday meal in a basement tavern. Despite the fact that he had no experience, he was inspired to improve the food and atmosphere and bought the tavern for $432. He renamed it Parker’s Restaurant, serving an updated menu and employing professional waitstaff. The former dingy hole-in-the-wall became the go-to place for Boston’s elite. By 1847, Parker’s was one of the most popular dining destinations in the city.

Seven years later, Parker, with an investment partner, purchased a boarding house that had once been a grand mansion. The aging structure was razed and in its place arose an Italianate-style five-story brick-and-stone hotel with marble steps, elegant foyer, crystal chandeliers, burnished bronze fixtures, golden oak paneling, and plush wool carpets.

The lobby of Omni Parker House Hotel
The lobby of Omni Parker House Hotel | Source

Instead of the traditional boarding house meals at established times, Parker’s had a new concept—an elegant dining room, a menu, and upscale meals which could be purchased at any time. Today Parker's is regarded as the oldest of Boston’s elegant inns and the longest continuously operating hotel in the United States.

Some Notable Parker's Guests

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Babe Ruth
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Sarah Bernhardt

A century and one-half ago, the creative kitchen staff developed several dishes which are still known today. One of those is the Boston cream pie. It's obviously made with sponge cake so why is it called pie?

At that time, pie and cake tins were often considered interchangeable, as were the words themselves. This lax approach to labeling is likely why [chef and Boston cream pie creator] Sanzian's French-inspired concoction debuted as "Chocolate Cream Pie" in 1856, and why subsequent versions continued to be called pies rather than cakes.

— Aimee Seavey in Yankee Magazine

The Original Recipe

In January 1983, the Yankee Magazine published a feature article entitled "A Pie in Cake's Clothing." Therein is a recipe which is reportedly the original Parker's House Boston Cream Pie.

Fun Spin-Off Recipes

Boston cream pie cheesecake
Boston cream pie cheesecake | Source

Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake

When I am in need of a serious dessert-fix, a pull-out-the-stops decadent display of sugar and chocolate, I visit the blog of Lindsay, Life, Love, and Sugar. This cheesecake has a vanilla cake bottom, chocolate ganache filling, thick and creamy vanilla cheesecake and is topped with more chocolate ganache and of course, pastry cream.

Boston cream pie cookies
Boston cream pie cookies | Source

Boston Cream Pie Cookies

I love Terri's philosophy - "Dessert first, travel often, brunch always." She creates authentic pastry cream (not packaged vanilla pudding) to make these "cookies for grownups," hand-held confections with all the flavor (and decadence) of Boston cream pie wrapped up in a cookie.

Boston cream pie crepe cake
Boston cream pie crepe cake | Source

Boston Cream Pie Crepe Cake

After reading her post, I have come to the conclusion that Lyuba and I are twins, separated at birth. (Never mind the fact that we look nothing alike and I am no doubt old enough to be her mother). She is very picky (as am I). She knows what she likes, and what she doesn't like, and thus she bakes her own birthday cake. Yes, this cake made of thin as air, delicate crepes stacked with vanilla custard is her creation, and it certainly is birthday-worthy!

Boston cream pie crepes
Boston cream pie crepes | Source

Boston Cream Pie Crepes

Here is another Boston cream pie crepe recipe, this one allowing the delicate crepes to be the star of the show.

Boston cream pie parfaits
Boston cream pie parfaits | Source

Boston Cream Pie Parfaits

Holly is a photographer, recipe-developer, and foodie extraordinaire. She has used the recent fad of building desserts in see-through Mason jars to create a Boston cream pie parfait. Here she provides her recipe for homemade layers of custard, chocolate, and yellow cake. (Or if you are in a hurry, she provides instructions for using pudding mix and cake mix).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boston cream pie trifleOh, how pretty!
Boston cream pie trifle
Boston cream pie trifle | Source
Oh, how pretty!
Oh, how pretty! | Source

Boston Cream Pie Trifle

A traditional English trifle is a layered dessert made with pound cake, Grand Marnier, creme anglaise, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. Fresh raspberries are not always in season, but we can find chocolate any time! Lindsey features this beautiful deconstructed cake which takes less than 60 minutes to bake and assemble but looks like you fussed for hours.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Linda Lum

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Good morning Shauna. I want every one of those sweets right now. (I picked a heck of a time to go on a diet, didn't I?)

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        3 months ago from Central Florida

        Yummy! I love Boston Cream Pie! I always wondered why it was dubbed a pie. Now I know!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thelma, I am sure that your visitors would enjoy any one of these treats. I thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Have a wonderful week.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        3 months ago from Germany and Philippines

        Oh my! This sounds heavenly delicious. I think I have to make this food when I have visitors. As of now, I am craving for it. Thanks for this historical information of this hard working person. He is an inspiration to all of us. Great hub. Thanks for sharing.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Well, Bill, I can certainly add this to the mailbox because although the question has been answered (I wrote an entire article on Yorkshire pudding) it bears repeating. Thanks for this. Sometimes the mailbox is pretty slim.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        3 months ago from Olympia, WA

        You can toss this in your Mailbag series....so I'm watching the British baking show,and one of the challenges was to make Yorkshire Pudding. Twelve people made twelve variations of what they called Yorkshire Pudding, but I swear,Linda,not one of them was pudding. What's up with that?

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        R Talloni as soon as you finish making that pie, give me a call, OK? It's not on my diet, but I could make an exception.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        3 months ago from the short journey

        Stories like this about people who worked hard to build a business never get old. To think of all the people he employed and how his efforts evolved and expanded to benefit so many makes a person smile.

        That we enjoy so many desserts from the Parker House Boston Creme Pie is something to keep smiling about. Thanks for all the history and info. Gotta find me some Boston Creme Pie dessert soon!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Ms. Dora, so you think I need a disclaimer on my articles? You made me chuckle. Yes, I think Mr. Parker's story is amazing; truly rags to riches.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 months ago from The Caribbean

        Linda, would you mind putting a warning at the beginning that the reader's appetite is likely to go haywire after seeing your pictures? Thanks anyway for the inspirational story about Harvey Parker's achievement despite his setback. Thanks also for the recipe.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Linda I did not mention that is bookmarked. I look you up and head to the store afterwards. Such joy of cooking.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, I actually did an article on gazpacho. Google "Exploring Gazpacho: The Salad in a Glass". It contains 6 recipes from which you can choose.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I am sorry for being all "public". But yesterday we had a weird one at 105 degrees for two hours. I was so blessed to have water to pass out to my recycle buddies. Nobody could explain it. They sheltered in place at Gabes school.

        I am a coward of heat and took refuge. We do not do air con. Just wrong.

        An Aloe Vera smear all over reduces heat.

        So OH BOY. Give us that Gespatcho type recipe to cool us down. Too hot and too cold gives an excuse to eat. Bring it on.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Good morning Eric. I thought that your question might be fodder for the Monday mailbox, but this is becoming a full-blown article. Whoo-hoo! Great idea and something for me to work on tomorrow (Wednesday) when I'm trying to avoid the outdoors. We're scheduled for a scorcher of a day. Well, at least in my part of the world it's considered a scorcher. Ninety degrees is not that common up here and I'm such a delicate little flower don't ya know.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Sorry for misspelling. Yes. Menudo and Michaeladas and beer sours. In my case they are non Alc. But these cure hangovers. Which means they cure many others issues with the right spices.

        Just a thought or 10 ;-)

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Yes excuse my misspelling. Perhaps Menudo at the same time. (maybe misspelled again :-) And we can pare both with a Michelada (even sans alcohol) I also make a beer margarita with the finest beer around Clausthaler, several hundred years of brewing.

        The notion is that these clear up hangovers. Fine and dandy but with the right spices these become super cleansing/support foods.

        Just a young man's ramblings young lady.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, truth be told I haven't had Boston cream pie since "I can't remember when." But that definitely needs to change. At the moment I'm eyeing those crepes (not the stacked cake but the rolled ones). Crepes are ridiculously easy to make.

        Like you, I was amazed that someone with such humble beginnings could go so far. He must have been an amazingly smart, talented (and perhaps charming) individual.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 months ago from USA

        Oh, these look incredible! And that history is very inspiring buying the bar at such a young age! A true American success story.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Hi Eric. Yes, I did write not too long ago about meringue.

        Anyone who would dump you wasn't worth the bother. I'm glad you at least got a slice of pie out of the deal.

        Now as for your pezole. Do you mean pozole, the hominy soup? I can help you with that.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Pamela, I had fun researching this one and I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Maybe it was the same Parkers. She had me meet her there for cake and Schnapps. Met her there, loved her there and she dumped me there. I stayed for the pie. Long drive back to Dartmouth.

        I think you just did one on Meringue fever (oops thats what I call it as it is infectious) I am coming up there to diet and make you work out with me.

        What of Pezole' Mine just has no pzazz in a can tastes as good?

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        3 months ago from Sunny Florida

        Thanks Linda, now I want some big dessert! Everything did look delicious, but I loved the historical success story. A man with $1 in his pocket and look what he accomplished. This is a very inspired article.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, truth be told, that's my favorite part too. I love exploring the history of food and the people that made it happen. Thanks for stopping by.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        3 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Never had it! No surprise there, right? But a fascinating history which I was very interested in. I love stories like that, the American Dream come true.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)