Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)
Use it as a filling for eclairs, tarts or as a base to make other types of creams. Creme Patissiere or pastry cream as we say in the UK, is a versatile cream which is actually simpler to make than it looks!
17 mins + chill time
Pastry Cream/Creme Patissiere
Delicious and creamy pastry cream was one of the first recipes I made during my pastry school days. It’s such a versatile cream that can be used for so many different bakes such as light and fluffy Creme Diplomat and perfect for filling cakes as a buttercream alternative.
If you’re serious about baking, you need to know how to make it! Trust me, you’ll be churning out pans of the stuff once you know how. it’s actually really simple. The key is to never take your eyes off the pan and KEEP WHISKING!
What is pastry cream?
Pastry cream is a thick, custard-like cream which is used a lot in pastry kitchens to fill bakes such as Choux buns and tart aux fruits, to name a few.
It’s made from whisking egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour together and then combining with heated milk, which is at first tempered (adding only a tiny bit). It’s then thickened over a stove until it resembles a custard.
If you know how to make a custard (creme anglaise) then you’ll find this easy as it’s very similar. The only difference is that pastry cream has to be brought to the boil in order to cook out the starch. You don’t want that claggy taste in your cream! This is why you must keep stirring until it boils because it does have the tendency to burn.
Why should I make it?
- A kitchen staple. A gateway to so many different bakes!
- Minimal ingredients needed.
- Less than 30 minutes to make!
- Rich, creamy, delicious and impressive!
Scroll down for exact quantities.
Egg yolks – any size will do!
Whole milk – you could also use semi-skimmed but whole will ensure a richer cream.
Vanilla pod – vanilla bean powder is a great alternative. Vanilla essence is ok if desperate.
How to make pastry cream
Step 1 – Make the cream: Pour the milk into a pan and add the vanilla seeds and the pod. Heat until almost boiling (you’ll notice it steaming).
Step 2 – Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch.
Step 3 – Once the milk starts to boil, pour half into the egg yolk mixture and whisk continuously to combine (tempering). Pour this mix back into the pan with the rest of the milk. On a medium heat, keep whisking until it thickens. This should take around 2 minutes.
Step 4 – Once thickened, boil for 1 minute but make sure to keep whisking. Remove the vanilla pod. Cook for a further minute and whisking constantly.
Step 5 – Cool the cream: Pour the pastry cream onto a baking tray and cover tightly with cling film (press the film so it sticks to the cream to push out air bubbles), ensuring there’s as little air bubbles as possible. Leave to cool to room temp.
Note – Before use, remove from the tray and whisk in a bowl to loosen. If not using straight away, remember to refrigerate (see below for how to store).
Pastry Cream Step-By-Step Instructions
1 x medium saucepan
1 x whisk
1 x medium bowl
1 x shallow tray
How to further use your pastry cream
Once you’ve made your pastry cream, you could develop it into one of the following creams:
- Creme Diplomat: Pastry cream + whipped cream.
- Creme Chiboust: Pastry cream + Italian meringue + gelatine.
- Creme Mousseline: Pastry cream + butter.
- Frangipane: Pastry cream + almond cream.
Pastry cream makes for the perfect filling for a tart base. If you need a recipe, I have a sweet shortcrust recipe which is fail-safe! Top with sliced strawberries and you’ve got yourself dessert.
Or try my summery, French millefeuille. It’s basically summer in a puff-pastry sandwich! Light and fluffy cream and fresh strawberries encased in a crisp puff.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this recipe gluten-free?
This pastry cream is not gluten-free as it contains flour. You can make it gluten-free by omitting the flour and just using cornflour. I’ve not tested it myself with this recipe but you could try 50g cornflour or perhaps even 40g might be enough.
How can I make vegan pastry cream?
You can make this vegan by using milks such as coconut or almond instead. It should work just as well.
Vanilla pod alternative?
If you have no vanilla pods, try vanilla bean powder – 0.5 tsp (the best substitute) or vanilla essence if desperate. A couple of tsps will be enough.
Why is my pastry cream not thickening?
You may have not added enough cornflour and plain flour. Check your scales. Or it could be that you haven’t left it to thicken long enough in the pan. Be patient as it can taker a few minutes to really get to a thick stage.
Help! My pastry cream is too thick!
You may have accidentally added too much cornflour or plain flour. If your cream is still in the pan, add a dash of milk and see if it will loosen. If not, make it into a Creme Diplomat – folding it into whipped cream to make a lovely, light cream.
Pastry Cream / Creme Patissiere
- Medium saucepan
- Medium bowl
- A whisk
- Shallow tray
- Cling film
- 5 egg yolks
- 125 g caster sugar
- 500 ml whole milk
- 25 g plain flour
- 25 g cornflour
- 1 vanilla pod
- Pour the milk into a pan and add the vanilla seeds and the pod. Heat until almost boiling (you’ll notice it steaming).
- Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch until combined.
- Once the milk starts to boil, pour half into the egg yolk mixture and whisk continuously to combine (tempering). Pour this mix back into the pan with the rest of the milk. On a medium heat, keep whisking until it thickens. This should take around 2 minutes.
- Once thickened, boil for 1 minute but make sure to keep whisking. Remove the vanilla pod. Cook for a further minute and whisking constantly.
- Pour the pastry cream onto a baking tray and cover tightly with cling film (press the film so it sticks to the cream to push out air bubbles), ensuring there’s as little air bubbles as possible. Leave to cool to room temp.
- Before use, remove from the tray and whisk in a bowl to loosen. If not using straight away, remember to refrigerate.