Ina Garten Just Shared Her Recipe for Boston Cream Pie—Here’s the Secret

Why choose between drinks and dessert when you can have both?

When it comes to a classic, our advice is to never mess with it. Unless, of course, the queen of the culinary world says so!

Ina Garten is the undisputed ruler of the kitchen (and of our cookbook shelves), and after trying out Ina’s chocolate cake, we were excited to find she’s released her recipe for another well-loved classic—the Boston cream pie!

She spent six years perfecting this recipe, so it’s definitely going on our list of go-to bakes. Of course, in true Barefoot Contessa style, this one has a secret ingredient that knocks it out of the park.

(P.S. Despite its name, Boston cream pie is actually a layer cake—the name probably comes from the popularity of pie tins during the time of its invention.)

What’s Her Secret?

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With her Boston cream pie, Ina sticks to the basics—a delicate yellow butter cake with an absolutely dreamy chocolate glaze (look at that drip!) but takes it one step further.

We’ve already talked about how a simple syrup soak can take your homemade layer cake from good to bakery-level delicious, but she makes hers stand out even more by soaking her cake layers in a mix of sugar, orange juice and Grand Marnier liqueur. The French brand’s signature after-dinner drink blends cognac, bitter orange and sugar, a combination that lends the cake a rich, citrusy flavor.

She also incorporates orange zest into her cake for an extra zing, and dials up the custard filling by creating a Grand Marnier pastry cream with extra cognac! For the final touch, she uses instant coffee granules in her chocolate glaze, a trick that results in a richer, more complex finish.

How to Soak Your Boston Cream Pie

While people generally think soaking requires dunking in liquid, it’s really a much easier process. All you need is a pastry brush.

Step 1: Make the cake components

Use whatever Boston cream pie recipe you choose to make the yellow butter cake layers, custard filling and chocolate glaze.

Step 2: Make the sugar syrup

Combine 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir till the sugar dissolves. Take the pan off the heat, then stir in 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier liqueur.

Step 3: Assemble the Boston cream pie

Slice your cakes in half horizontally to end up with four layers. Brush the cut side of the first layer with a quarter of the syrup mixture; then slather on a third of the custard filling and top it with another layer. Repeat until all the layers are stacked. Brush the rest of the syrup on top, then add the chocolate glaze, and voila! You’ve got a Boston cream pie the Barefoot Contessa would be proud of.

And if you’re a fan, don’t forget to check out Ina Garten’s list of favorite things to cook!

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Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is a writer, poet and amateur photographer who often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. You can find her up at 3 a.m. writing, researching the perfect combo for her next grilled cheese or making a more eco-friendly grocery list.