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, you can use it to enrich mousses, or you can use is as a classy and delectable filling in a variety of pastries.
- 180ml (or ¾ cup) milk
- 60ml (or ¼ cup) heavy whipping cream
- 40g (or 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon) granulated sugar
- ¼ of a vanilla bean
- 20g (or 3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vanilla-flavored custard powder
- 2 large 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 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. Whisk over low to medium-high heat 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, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let the pastry cream come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to chill.
- Pastry cream will keep in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.