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Hello my dear reader, are you wondering how to make classic pastry cream? You are in the right place. I have prepared for you clear step-by-step directions and images to guide you through the process. This recipe is very easy to make and at the end, you will have the creamiest, light, and silky pastry cream that you can use in your baking adventure.
What is Pastry Cream?
Pastry Cream or also called Creme Patissiere, is a custard type of cream made of milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cornstarch, and butter. Different flavors can be made with it, but the classic vanilla is the most popular. The way you make a pastry cream is by combining eggs, sugar, and cornstarch. Tempering them with hot milk, and cook it over the stovetop till it thickens. Finishing it by mixing in some butter for extra creaminess, flavor, and luster.
Where to Use Pastry Cream?
Pastry Cream can be used in many desserts. From eclairs, profiteroles/cream puffs to different types of cakes, tarts, doughnut filling, and puddings. The options are endless.
This Eclair recipe is perfect for this Pastry Cream.
What I love about Pastry Cream is how light it is. I am not a fan of buttercream, it’s too heavy for my taste, but this is a great substitute if you are looking to make something still creamy but not as rich. Yes, the texture is not the same and there is a place for both, but it’s good to have an option.
Let’s talk about tempering. What is it? And how to do it?
Tempering is needed when you have two ingredients with different temperatures, hot and cold. In this case, we have eggs, although it doesn’t matter if the eggs are cold or room temperature, we still need to temper them because of the nature of the eggs. They will cook or curdle when hot is added to them.
How can we temper eggs? It’s easy. In the bowl with the eggs add a little bit of the hot liquid, while whisking vigorously. This way by whisking the eggs the temperature is risen slowly preventing them from cooking. Once this is done and the eggs haven’t curdled you can add the rest of the hot liquid, at this point the eggs are at a safe temperature level.
How to Make Pastry Cream?
Making a Pastry Cream is pretty easy, you just have to be careful not to cook the eggs when adding the hot liquid. The rest is straightforward and easy to do.
One thing I would like to mention is the importance of vanilla. This is one of those recipes in which vanilla is one of the ingredients that play a big role in the final product. It’s ideal to use good quality vanilla bean instead of extract, but if you don’t have it, use what you got. One of the characteristics of this Classic Pastry Cream is the vanilla seeds and the flavor they create. Even the look of the cream is so pretty with the seeds in it! Some use the whole vanilla bean and seeds when making the cream. But, I like to use only the seeds and save the pod for making vanilla extract. This way I get to use it more than just once.
First, add the milk and the seeds of a vanilla bean or both (seeds and pod) to a saucepan. Let it cook on medium heat.
Meanwhile combine the sugar, egg yolks, corn starch, and salt, in a separate bowl. The consistency will be thick but don’t worry once you add the milk it will all mix nicely.
As soon as the milk starts to boil take it off the stove and temper the eggs by pouring just a little bit into the egg mixture as you whisk at the same time. Make sure the bowl with the eggs has a towel underneath or something to prevent it from sliding while you are whisking and pouring the milk at the same time. It takes just a few seconds, if you don’t see any eggs curdling then you are good to go.
Add the rest of the milk and transfer it back to the stovetop. Whisk constantly for 2-5min, till the mixture has thickened.
Take it off the stove, add the butter. Mix till smooth.
Cover with plastic by touching directly the surface of the cream. This will prevent it from developing skin. Refrigerate until cool. And, as it cools it will thicken even more.
And here you have it, delicious, creamy, classic pastry cream! Also, you can use it to make this super amazing Eclairs Recipe for example.
I also suggest you try this Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe I also love!
How to make Classic Pastry Cream
- 480 g Whole Milk
- 1 Vanilla bean seeds(pod is optional) or 1 t – vanilla powder, vanilla paste, vanilla extract
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 90 g Sugar 6 tbsp
- 2 tbsp Corn Starch 20g
- 1/4 t Salt
- 2-3 tbsp Butter 30-40g
- In a saucepan heat up the milk and vanilla seeds, powder, or paste. If using vanilla extract add it at the end when adding the butter.
- Meanwhile combine egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, and salt. Mix it all together.
- As soon as the milk comes to a boil, remove it from the stove and add just a bit to the egg mixture, while whisking at the same time. Keep the bowl sturdy on a towel or surface where it won't move while you pouring and whisking at the same time.
- Once the eggs are tempered (read the notes above for more info), add the rest of the milk. Transfer back to the stovetop and whisk constantly on medium heat for about 2-5min. It will thicken pretty fast, so don't leave it and walk away!
- When the mixture has thickened take it off the stove and add the butter. Mix till melted. Add the vanilla extract if using.
- Cover with plastic by placing it right at the surface of the cream. This way the cream won't develop skin when cooling. As it cools it will become thicker.
- Transfer to the fridge to chill. Use as needed.