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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Recipe: Pastry Cream

Strawberry Banana Cream Phyllo Tarts

Recipe: Pastry Cream 

A Pastry Recipe Everyone Should Know

When it comes to sweet sauces, Crème Anglaise may be the reigning king of the Pastry world, but this saucy royal is no jack of all trades. 

Imagine if Boston Cream donuts were filled with a loose sauce rather than a thick custard. Disaster! Mall cops the world over would be doomed to walk their beat sporting stained uniforms, the spattered drippings of their breakfast indulgences on display where all can see.

Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissèrie) steps in as the thicker cousin of Crème Anglaise. It is a starch bound custard, which means that it gets most of its thickening strength from some form of starch (e.g. Flour, Cornstarch, Arrowroot). Unlike the Egg-only thickening of Crème Anglaise, that extra starchy 'oomph makes it stable enough to serve as a filling. For instance, it is the perfect base for desserts like the Strawberry Banana Cream Phyllo Tarts shown above (recipe coming this week)!

Eggs and Corn Starch for Pastry Cream
The ingredients for Pastry Cream should look familiar: Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks and Corn Starch. It's effectively Crème Anglaise plus a starch. 

I prefer Corn Starch because it is powerful in small quantities, has a smooth mouth-feel and is widely available.

You'll find that a Pastry Cream made with Milk and Egg Yolks is sufficiently rich and stable. Using Cream and Whole Eggs is possible, but it may be too thick for general use.

Similar to Crème Anglaise, begin by heating the Milk, Sugar, Vanilla and Salt to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Mixed Eggs and Corn Starch for Pastry Cream
As the Milk mixture comes to a simmer, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Corn Starch in a large bowl. 

Once the Milk reaches a gentle simmer (approximately 70 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Fahrenheit), it's time to temper the Eggs. Tempering is a process of gently combining Eggs with a hot mixture without curdling the Eggs.

Tempering Egg Yolks for Creme AnglaiseSlowly pour half of the hot Milk mixture into the bowl with the Egg Yolk mixture while whisking constantly. 

Return the saucepan to the stove and pour all of the tempered Egg mixture back into the saucepan. With the saucepan over medium heat, return the mixture to a gentle simmer while whisking actively. Once it is again simmering, continue to cook the Pastry Cream for two minutes, whisking constantly.

This extra cooking time is necessary to activate the binding strength of the starch as well as to denature certain enzymes in the Egg Yolks that would otherwise breakdown the starch and create a runny Pastry Cream.

Sheet Tray Wrapped in Plastic for Cooling Pastry Cream
After two minutes, remove the Pastry Cream from the heat and let it cool. The easiest way to cool Pastry Cream is to spread it in a thin layer on a sheet tray wrapped in plastic wrap.

Pastry Cream Cooling on a Plastic Wrap Prepared Sheet Tray
To prevent a skin from forming, cover the Pastry Cream with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface. Once the Pastry Cream is no longer hot, you can put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Chilled Pastry Cream in Solid Form
Pastry Cream will set very firm when chilled in the refrigerator.

Pastry Cream Beaten Smooth
Before using it, beat the Pastry Cream smooth in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Crème Légère - Pastry Cream Folded with Whipped Cream
For a lighter Pastry Cream, fold the smooth Pastry Cream with some Whipped Cream to create Crème Légère. The more Whipped Cream you use, the lighter the Crème Légère.

- The Recipe -

Pastry Cream:


  • Whole Milk: 480g (2 Cups)
  • Sugar: 100g (0.5 Cup)
  • Vanilla Extract: 6g (0.5 Tbls)
  • Salt: 3g (0.5 Tsp)

  • Corn Starch: 40g (1/3 Cup)
  • Egg Yolks: 90g (5x)


1. In a large saucepan, heat the Milk, Sugar, Vanilla and Salt to a gentle simmer, completely dissolving the Sugar. Stir frequently as Milk can easily scorch over high heat.

2. While the Milk mixture comes to a simmer, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Cornstarch in a large bowl until smooth.

3. Once the Milk mixture reaches temperature (approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Celsius), slowly pour approximately half of it into the Egg mixture while whisking, tempering the Egg mixture. Return the saucepan to the stove and pour all of the tempered Egg mixture back into the saucepan.

4. With the saucepan over medium heat, return the mixture to a gentle simmer while whisking actively. Once it is simmering, continue to cook the Pastry Cream for two minutes, whisking constantly.

Chef's Note: It is important to monitor your heat. Boiling the Pastry Cream for a full two minutes is necessary to activate the starches, but you do not want to burn the mixture. 

5. After two minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat. To cool the Pastry Cream, prepare a sheet tray by fully wrapping it with plastic wrap. Pour the Pastry Cream in a thin layer over the prepared sheet tray. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the Pastry Cream to prevent a skin from forming. Once the Pastry Cream has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator. 


- The Pastry Cream can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days. It should not be frozen.
- Before using Pastry Cream that has been refrigerated, beat it with a paddle attachment for several minutes to make it smooth again.  

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  1. My mama always says, the eyes eat the food first. The picture looks so delicious and yummy which is basically why I think there’s a 90 percent chance people will use your recipe.

  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe of a fluffy cream at home. It looks heavy but i think it would be even good without the taste of egg because few people don't like egg smell.