Bavarian Cream vs Boston Cream: The 4 Differences You Need to Know

Bavarian cream and Boston cream are frequently confused. They look alike and even their preparation method is remarkably similar to one another.

Only a real pastry and dessert connoisseur is able to tell them apart as the differences between Bavarian cream and Boston cream are very subtle. A few key things to observe are their consistency, their ingredients, and of course, their flavor. 

Although they have been invented over two centuries ago, these two creamy desserts are still a pillar in our modern-day pastry world. Chefs and high-end patisseries are not the only places where you can find them though.

Today we’re going into details about the main differences between these two types of cream and their uses in recipes.

What is Bavarian cream?

The bavarian cream is a custard, used as a dessert on its own, or accompanied by a fruit puree or a fruit sauce. It pairs perfectly with any fruit-based dessert, especially with apricots, or berries like raspberry and strawberries.

Heavy cream, whipped cream, and gelatine give Bavarian cream its thick, signature consistency. And it is its jelly texture that allows it to be eaten on its own.

It was born in France and although the year is not specified, it is believed that the Bavarian cream was invented before the Boston cream

What is Boston cream?

Boston cream is a filling used in pastries, doughnuts, pies, and cakes. It uses cornstarch as a setting agent and that gives it its silky texture.

Unlike Bavarian cream, Boston cream cannot be eaten on its own, but it pairs perfectly with chocolate-based desserts, like a chocolate ganache.

The Boston cream pie is one of the most famous recipes that call for Boston cream, but there are also Boston cream donuts and cakes. It was also titled the official dessert of Massachusetts in 1996.

It was created by a French chef based in Boston, USA, and that is where it got its name from. It is believed it is a variant of the Bavarian cream, and this is why people around the world confuse the two of them so often

What is the difference between Bavarian cream and Boston cream? 

Bavarian cream vs Boston cream: the ultimate battle. Trying to tell them apart is even more difficult than finding Waldo!

Although they look extremely similar, these two creams are nothing alike. They exhibit unique characteristics that make them irreplaceable in their own ways.

The key difference between Boston cream and Bavarian cream is that Boston cream is runnier, and it is usually used for fillings, while, Bavarian cream is a denser type of custard that can also be enjoyed on its own.

You need to look out for specific traits that subtly turn a Bavarian cream into a Boston cream. If you want to know more, check out the detailed list we put together on the differences between the two. 

1. Origin

Bavarian cream, also known as crème Bavarois (or more simply Bavarois), is a dessert that has its origins in France. The creator behind this delicious cream is rumored to be chef Marie-Antoine Carême.

According to those rumors, chef Carême invented the Bavarian cream after a wealthy, distinguished Bavarian man back in the 19th century.

The exact date of its creation is unknown. But this incredible French dessert gained so much popularity that it ended in D. A. Lincoln’s cookbook “Boston Cooking School” in 1884.

The Boston cream is attributed to another French man, chef Augustine Francois Anezin in 1865. The French chef was based in Boston, US at the time, so that is where the dessert takes its name from.

2. Ingredients

What gives a Bavarian cream its signature taste is a mix of ingredients perfectly combined together. Heavy cream, gelatine, sugar, vanilla beans, whipped cream, and eggs are used to make this delicious dessert.

After mixing all these ingredients together, the Bavarian cream is usually placed into a fluted mold and stored in a fridge until it gets its firm consistency.

On the other hand, Boston cream is made by mixing milk, eggs, cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla. These ingredients together create a silky cream mainly used as filling.

So, ingredients-wise, the difference between Boston cream and Bavarian cream is that the first uses cornstarch to thicken its consistency, and the second uses a mixture of heavy cream, gelatine, and whipped cream.

The line between a Bavarian and Boston cream gets a little blurred if you decide to turn your Bavarian cream or Boston cream into a vegan dessert. Things will change a little in the making process.

Turning a Boston cream into a vegan treat is an easier process than making a vegan Bavarian cream. Making a vegan Boston cream donut filling at home is easy, and it only takes a few ingredients that are easy to find at any supermarket:

  1. Swap eggs with your favorite plain or vanilla-flavored plant-based milk. For a firmer consistency, it is better to use soy milk, but any other vegan milk will do.
  2. Mix it with flour, canola oil (or any other type of neutral oil you have at home), vanilla extract, lemon juice, and sugar. This mixture will give you a creamy and delicious vegan Boston cream.

Making a vegan Bavarian cream is a little more complicated as the original recipe includes many ingredients originating from animals, like whipped cream, eggs, heavy cream, and gelatine.

Having a look at the ingredients list for the vegan Bavarian cream, it is easy to understand why the similarities between the two grow exponentially.

First of all, it starts with plant-based milk (any vegan milk will work, as long as it is unsweetened), vanilla beans, cornstarch, vegan margarine (or vegan butter), white sugar, and a little bit of turmeric to give it that yellowish color.

As most of the ingredients are employed in similar ways between Boston cream and Bavarian cream, it is nearly impossible to draw a difference in their vegan variants.

The vegan Boston cream kind of maintains its primary purpose of filling, but the vegan Bavarian cream becomes a diverse type of custard, more similar to a Patisserie cream

3. Texture

As we already mentioned above, gelatin, heavy cream, and whipped cream together give Bavarian cream that thick texture it is famous for. Due to its dense consistency, it is possible to use it as a filling or as a dessert on its own.

Boston cream is not as heavy as Bavarian cream, even though the cornstarch provides it with a thicker consistency. The density of this dessert makes it perfect to be used as a filling in pastries, donuts, and more

4. Uses 

Once the Bavarian cream has been refrigerated and it is ready to be served, this cream is typically paired with a fruit-based dessert, like a fruit sauce, or a fruit puree such as apricot, raspberry, or strawberry.

In addition, it can be used as a filling for the typical Bavarian cream donut and other types of pastries. It is worth noting though that the cream used in Bavarian donuts, like the Dunkin Donuts Bavarian cream does not follow the original French recipe.

In fact, American Bavarian cream doughnuts have a pastry cream filling, which is strikingly similar to the French dessert. On top of that, this is the reason why many confuse the Boston cream and the Bavarian cream nowadays.

The Boston cream is a fantastic dessert that is often used in pastries such as the Boston cream donut, but it can also be found in Boston cream cakes and Boston cream pies.

Is Bavarian cream the same as Boston cream?

Although they are often confused, Bavarian cream is not the same as Boston cream. They might look similar, if not the same thing, at first sight, but there is so much more to them that does not immediately meet the eye.

Bavarian cream is more like a custard, while Boston cream is a pastry filling. One can be eaten on its own while the latter is enjoyed better in doughnuts, pastries, cakes, and pies.

Being more like a custard, Bavarian cream has a thicker, more dense texture and it uses gelatine as a setting agent. Boston cream is a little runnier than Bavarian cream. It gets its creamy texture from the use of cornstarch in the original recipe.

Bavarian cream is better enjoyed if paired with a fruit-based dessert. Boston cream is complemented when joined by a chocolate-based dessert, like chocolate ganache.

Bavarian cream and Boston cream are completely different, unlike their vegan counterparts. The differences between a vegan Boston cream and a vegan Bavarian cream are extremely subtle.

Depending on their method of preparations, there can also be no differences between the two desserts. What makes a Bavarian cream special is the use of heavy cream, whipped cream, and gelatine.

Swapping those key ingredients will bring it closer to the Boston cream, but it will taste delicious, nonetheless.

Despite their various differences, both Bavarian cream and Boston cream are incredibly tasty and versatile desserts. It solely depends on your personal preferences which one to use or what ingredients to employ to take it closer to your taste.

On top of that, it is amazingly easy to recreate altered versions of these delicious creams according to your taste. Whether you would like to make a dairy-free Bavarian cream or a vegan Boston cream, all the way to a gluten-free dessert.

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