A few days ago, I added a new recipe category to my website: Building Blocks!
In this category you can find recipes for… well… building blocks: elementary recipes you can mix and match to create you’re own culinary marvels!
First off: homemade pastry cream!
I’m so glad I’ve finally (FINALLY!) discovered pastry cream. Pastry cream, or crème patissière, is a gorgeously thick custard made with both egg yolks and cornstarch (or custard powder). Because of the addition of cornstarch, pastry cream is a lot thicker than custard sauces (crème anglaise) and does not have to be watched like a hawk during cooking, as the cornstarch prevents the yolks from curdling, even if you bring the custard to the boil!
Not only is pastry cream incredibly versatile, it’s also ridiculously delicious! You can serve it on its own or with a big dollop of softly whipped cream if you’re craving an easy yet luscious dessert, or you can use is as a classy and delectable filling in a variety of pastries.
You can even use it to jazz up mousses!
In other words, it’s basically something every foodie should learn to cook. Seriously, no matter how much you pride your fantastic desserts and no matter how much of a creative cooking genius you are, you can’t respect yourself as a home cook – or any cook for that matter – if you are unable to whip up a simple pastry cream.
Besides, why would anyone want to miss out on pastry cream? It’s great… Now that I know how to make it, I can’t believe I didn’t like it as a kid… Although, come to think of it, I was always given the choice between vanilla or chocolate pastry cream, so I guess it makes sense that I never tried the vanilla version…
I was just a little chocoholic!
But still, to all the chocoholics out there: loving vanilla doesn’t mean you’re cheating on your true chocolate lover! There’s no point in being monogamous when it comes to desserts…
So let’s start cooking…
Start by splitting and scraping a vanilla bean. You could substitute the vanilla bean for vanilla extract or vanilla paste. I prefer to use either bean or paste, because I love those little specks of vanilla in my pastry cream.
Combine the scraped bean and the vanilla seeds in a small saucepan with some milk, cream and sugar.
Meanwhile, whisk together a little cornstarch, two egg yolks, a little more sugar and a splash of the milk mixture.
Next, let the milk mixture come to a gentle simmer.
Fish out the vanilla bean and slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking the egg mixture continuously.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Gently heat the mixture, whisking continuously, until it thickens into a gloriously thick pastry cream. Wait for a few bubbles to appear, then take it off the heat.
Congratulations, you have made pastry cream!
Pour the pastry cream through a sieve to make sure there aren’t any lumps in it.
See those gorgeous little vanilla specks? I just love those!
At this point, you can serve the pastry cream as a warm dessert. If you plan to either serve the pastry cream at room temperature or cold, or use it as a filling, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.
Let it come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to chill.
Use the pastry cream as a silky smooth filling for all kinds of pastries or serve it at room temperature in a cute little bowl all on its own or with a little dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries to fancy it up a bit.
- 180ml (or ¾ cup) milk
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) whipping cream
- 40g (or 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- ¼ of a vanilla bean
- 20g (or 7½ teaspoons) cornstarch or (custard powder)
- 2 egg yolks
- 10g (or 2½ teaspoons) granulated sugar
- Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a small saucepan, combine the scraped vanilla bean and the vanilla seeds with the milk, cream and 40 grams of sugar.
- Place the cornstarch or custard powder in a small bowl. Add a splash of the milk mixture to it and stir to a paste. This prevents lumps. Add a splash more of the milk and stir smooth. Add the yolks and the 10 grams of sugar and whisk together. In the meantime, gently heat the milk mixture to a simmer.
- Once the mixture is simmering, fish out the vanilla bean and discard. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking the egg mixture continuously. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over low to medium-high heat while whisking continuously until the mixture thickens and bubbles are starting to appear. You now have pastry cream!
- Pour the pastry cream through a sieve to make sure there aren’t any lumps or stray bits vanilla bean in it.
- NOTE: At this point, you can serve the pastry cream as a warm dessert. If you plan to either serve the pastry cream at room temperature or cold, or use it as a filling for cakes, pies or other pastries, proceed to the next step.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to chill.
- Use the pastry cream as a silky smooth filling for all kinds of pastries or serve it at room temperature in a cute little bowl all on its own or with a little dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries to fancy it up a bit.