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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

The Key to the Ideal Pastry Cream

Perfect Pastry Cream


  • 480 ml or two cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • One vanilla bean, or one tsp vanilla extract
  • Five large egg yolks
  • 30 g or 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Two tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, finely chopped


  1. Get the milk mixture ready:

    Combine half the granulated sugar (1/4 cup) and the whole milk in a medium pot. Add the vanilla bean seeds. Add vanilla extract last, if using. Place the pot on medium heat and carefully simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.

  2. Get the egg mixture ready:

    Whisk together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the remaining granulated sugar, and the cornstarch until the blend is creamy and light in hue. This will take about two to three minutes.

  3. Gently warm the eggs:

    When the milk mixture is heated, gradually add around one-third of it to the egg mixture while continuously whisking to soften the eggs. This stage gradually raises the temperature of the eggs to prevent curdling.

  4. Heat the pastry cream:

    Return the tempered egg mixture and the remaining hot milk to the pot, always stirring the mixture. Place the mixture back on medium heat, whisking continuously, until it thickens and begins to bubble, about two to three minutes. Once it begins to boil, cook for one or two more minutes to ensure the cornstarch is fully cooked.

  5. Finish the pastry cream:

    Remove the pot from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter and any vanilla extract if you did not use a vanilla bean.

  6. Strain and cool:

    To remove any lumps or fragments of cooked egg, strain the pastry cream into a clean bowl using a fine-mesh sieve. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature before chilling it in the refrigerator until very cold, at least two hours.

Success Tips

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: There's a distinct difference in the flavor and texture when using fresh milk, eggs, and butter.
  • Whisk Continuously: Ensure a smooth texture and avoid lumps by whisking continuously.
  • Strain the Cream: Strain the cream to get a smooth and silky texture without any cooked egg fragments.
  • Cool Correctly: Applying plastic wrap directly to the surface while cooling inhibits the formation of a skin, which can ruin your cream's texture.


  • Chocolate Pastry Cream: Add 4 ounces (113 g) of chopped dark chocolate to the hot pastry cream after removing it from the heat. Stir until melted and well combined.
  • Coffee Pastry Cream: Dissolve two tablespoons of instant coffee granules in the heated milk mixture before tempering the egg mixture.

Usage Suggestions

  • Fill Éclairs and Cream Puffs: Pipe the cold pastry cream into éclairs or cream puffs for a classic French dessert.
  • Layer in Cakes: Use as a rich, creamy filling between cake layers.
  • Tarts: Fill pre-baked tart shells with pastry cream and top with fresh fruits for an impressive dessert.

In Summary

Pastry cream is a versatile and essential component in many desserts. Mastering this recipe will enhance your baking skills and allow you to create a variety of delectable treats. Enjoy the creamy, rich texture and delightful flavor that perfect pastry cream adds to your pastries!



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