How to Make Easy Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

Pastry cream is a key recipe which everybody should know! It’s not that hard and very delicious.

Cup with Pastry Cream inside

I’ve done it several times working in the food business, and I think, so you. However, the more traditional versions can be a little intimidating for those just starting out, and particularly can have a waste of ingredient.

Generally, the classic version uses yolk and starch as thickeners. Some just wheat flour, some cornstarch and some others both.

My choice usually is flour and starch, and of course the egg yolks. But always I ended up with so many egg whites. As much as it hurts me: I’ve had to throw whites away because I don’t have more space or what to do with them.

Pastry Cream: Easy and Simples

My recipe solves two problems: it is simpler to do than the traditional one and there is no egg waste!

Yes, it uses the whole egg: yolk and egg white. That is, no egg whites left at the end!

And for simplicity? Well, in the classic, you usually have to temper the egg yolks mixture with a little hot milk, go back to the pan and finish the cooking.

Mine: everything go in the pan once. Much simpler, I think at least.

Pastry Cream: Flavoring

The tradicional flavor is vanilla. Again, traditionally with vanilla bean. But it’s an expensive ingredient and access is not that easy.

I used vanilla bean because it would use in another preparation. But you can use vanilla extract or even vanilla essence.

Will they be the same? No. But very similar and depending on where to use, few people will notice the difference. It hurts to say, but it’s true.

Another difference: firmer than normal, once it cools you can pipe with a pastry bag and it stays stable. And the coloring won’t be too yellow because of the whites either.

But it is worth remembering that the color of the yolk is not indicative of quality because it can be changed by adding coloring in the chicken feed. If you have annatto, it is already yellowish and has no significant nutritional impact, it is purely aesthetic.

Metal container and spoon with pastry cream

Easy Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 1 recipe
Author: Vitor Hugo

Ingredients

  • 35 g cornstarch
  • 500 mL whole milk
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 0,5 g table salt (pinch)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 10mL vanilla extract)
I always recommend using weight and volume measurements when present. The measurements in cups/spoons are just courtesy of the system and are less accurate.

Instructions

  • Mix cornstarch, milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  • If you're using vanilla bead: cut lengthwise and scrap the seeds, mix in the milk misture.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, mixing with whisk (fouet). It'll thicken.
  • When it thickens, keep cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Taste it, shouldn't have cornstarch flavor.
  • Transfer to another heat-proof container. You can pass through a fine mesh to remove bits and pieces.
  • If desire, you can whip with a stand mixer to cool down and aerated the cream. Or cover with plastic wrap to ice bath or refrigerate.
  • When cool, the cream will be more thick and you can pipe with a pastry bag.

Notes

  • Sugar: this version isn’t too sweet, serves as a base for others creams and fillings. If you want more sweet, add more 20-40g sugar.
  • Vanilla: for the classica apstry cream flavor, the vanilla beans is the better choice. But vanilla extract will be tasty as well. 
  • Recipe inspired by: Stella Parks do Brave Tart.

Oh, Hi! I'm Vitor Hugo!

Food Scientist and cook who mixed together two passions Science and Food: the best combination. Kind different, right? Read More…

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