This easy Pastry Cream recipe, also known as crème pâtissière, is silky, rich and so delicious. Pastry cream is essentially a thick custard that is made using common kitchen ingredients and takes only about 15 minutes to put together. It is perfect for many different fine pastries such as tarts, eclairs, or cream puffs!
Pastry cream is one of those classic dessert recipes you just have to know how to make. It isn't complicated, but how fun is it for you to be able to say that you know how to make crème pâtissière? That way when you are watching the Great British Baking Show, and the baker's "creme pat" is too soft, you can yell at the tv what you know they did wrong!
Pastry cream is essentially just a thicker vanilla custard. It's similar to vanilla pudding as well, but thicker. It's perfect for filling a Fresh Fruit Tart, or to use in other fine pastries such as eclairs, cream puffs or mille-feuille. It’s simple to make (and I share all the tips for making it below) and the recipe calls for common inexpensive ingredients. This recipe is thick and creamy with a rich flavor and sheer deliciousness. So let’s get to making it, okay?
Pastry Cream Ingredients
- granulated sugar
- egg yolks
- whole milk
- vanilla bean or extract
- unsalted butter
How to Make Pastry Cream
The pastry cream is made a bit different than traditional pastry cream. This recipe is made in one pot and doesn’t require any tempering of the eggs. You start by whisking together the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks and then add in the milk.
The whole mixture is cooked over medium heat, while you alternate between whisking and using a rubber spatula to scrape up any thickened bits from the bottom. The trick is to slowly heat the egg yolks with all of the ingredients at once so they don’t scramble. The added cornstarch helps stabilize the egg yolk mixture so that doesn’t happen. Additionally, it helps the mixture to thicken to the proper consistency. Once you’ve cooked the pastry cream, strain it into a bowl, and whisk in butter and scraped vanilla bean or vanilla extract.
Next, you'll cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap directly over the top to prevent any skin from forming and then chill it. First at room temperature until it is no longer hot, and then in the refrigerator until fully chilled.
This recipe is a bit thinner than traditional recipes because I prefer it that way. Even with that, it still thickens up pretty well once chilled, so before you are ready to use it in your desired fine pastry, you'll need to give it a good whisk to get it back to that silky smooth consistency we all think of when pastry cream comes to mind.
Tips for Making Pastry Cream
- Make sure to have a rubber spatula and a whisk handy. I use both to make sure the mixture cooks evenly. I swap between using them while I’m cooking the pastry cream to make sure I’m getting all the mixture out of the crevices of the pot while whisking to ensure a consistent cook.
- Don’t walk away from the pot while you are cooking it. It takes no more than 10 minutes to cook. Also, it’s especially important to stir almost constantly in the beginning when you are cooking it to ensure no egg yolks get stuck to the bottom of the pot and scramble.
- Strain the pudding to get rid of any small bits of cooked eggs you might have. It makes the final cream smoother.
- This cream will set pretty firm. Whisk it once it is chilled to achieve a smooth, silky consistency.
- Pastry cream is best used within one to two days after it has been made. As the days go on, the cream might release some moisture. This is fine to consume, just stir it back up.
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