pastry cream recipe

Hello there, baking enthusiasts! Are you in the mood for something sweet and creamy? Look no further than a delectable pastry cream. This luscious filling is versatile and can be used in a wide variety of desserts, from classic éclairs to fruit tarts. It’s a must-have in every baker’s repertoire, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get started with this pastry cream recipe.

pastry cream recipe

Pastry cream, also known as crème pâtissière, is a French custard that’s made with eggs, milk, sugar, and cornstarch or flour. The result is a creamy, thick custard that can be flavored with vanilla, chocolate, coffee, or even citrus zest. Pastry cream is a foundational component in many French pastries and desserts, like profiteroles and mille-feuille, and it’s easy to see why. Its rich texture and sweet flavor make it the perfect filling for desserts that are not only gorgeous but also satisfying.

Pastry Cream Recipe: How To Make It Perfectly

What Is Pastry Cream?

Pastry cream, also known as crème pâtissière, is a thick custard that is often used as a filling in various desserts. Its rich and velvety texture gives depth to pastries, cakes, and tarts. It is a versatile ingredient that is essential for many French desserts such as éclairs, cream puffs, Boston cream pie, and fruit tarts. Pastry cream can be flavored with vanilla, chocolate, or any other flavorings that complement the dessert it is being used in.

Ingredients and Tools

Making pastry cream requires a few basic ingredients and tools that are easily available in most kitchens:

– 2 cups whole milk
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 4 egg yolks
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– Pinch of salt

– Saucepan
– Whisk
– Mixing bowl
– Strainer
– Plastic wrap
– Pastry bag (optional)


Follow these simple suggestions to make the perfect pastry cream:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the whole milk and half of the granulated sugar over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

3. When the milk mixture simmers, remove it from the heat and pour it into the mixing bowl while whisking continuously. Pour it in a slow and steady stream to prevent cooking the eggs.

4. Once all of the milk mixture is added, whisk everything together until it becomes smooth.

5. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil while whisking constantly.

6. Once it boils, continue to whisk for an additional minute until the mixture becomes thick and smooth.

7. Remove the pastry cream from heat and whisk in the unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt until all ingredients are well combined.

8. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

9. Pour the pastry cream into a clean mixing bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until it is cold and firm.

10. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.

11. If you prefer a smoother texture, you can transfer it into a pastry bag and pipe it into your dessert.

Pastry cream is a perfect filling or topping for various desserts. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but it is best to use it as soon as possible for optimal freshness. Now that you know how to make pastry cream, you can use it for a variety of recipes. Let your creativity go wild and enjoy the rich, creamy taste of pastry cream in your desserts.

Tips and Tricks To Make Perfect Pastry Cream Every Time

Pastry cream is a basic component of many desserts such as éclairs, cream puffs, and fruit tarts. A good pastry cream recipe should be rich, creamy, and have a smooth texture. Avoiding curdling, having flavor variations, and proper storage are important aspects to ensure that your pastry cream is always a success. Below are some tips and tricks to make perfect pastry cream every time.

Preventing Curdling

The key to ensuring that your pastry cream doesn’t curdle is to cook it at the right temperature and temper the eggs. Heating the cream mixture to the right temperature (170°F or 77°C) just before adding the egg yolks and sugar mixture prevents the eggs from coagulating, hence avoiding the curdling. You also need to temper the eggs by whisking a small amount of hot cream into the egg mixture to equalize the temperature, then adding the egg mixture back into the hot cream. This gradual process ensures that the eggs do not cook too fast or coagulate, which could cause the cream to curdle.

If you realize that your pastry cream has curdled, it’s not the end of the world. You can still save it by passing it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any coagulated egg bits and whisking it until it becomes smooth. You can also add a small amount of cornstarch into the mixture, reheat and whisk until you regain your desired texture.

Flavor Variations

Pastry cream can be flavored in many ways, from vanilla and chocolate to citrus and spices. The flavor options are endless, and your creativity is your only limitation. Some popular flavors to try out include:

  • Vanilla: Use vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, or vanilla paste to add a classic flavor to your pastry cream.
  • Chocolate: Incorporating melted or grated chocolate into your pastry cream adds a rich chocolate flavor.
  • Fruit puree: Add fruit puree such as raspberry, strawberry or mango to give your pastry cream a fruity lift.
  • Lemon zest: Lemon zest can add a bright, tangy flavor to your pastry cream.
  • Cinnamon: Adding cinnamon to your pastry cream gives it a warm, comforting flavor.

When incorporating flavors, it’s essential to adjust the recipe and maintain the right ratio of flavors and ingredients. Adding too much liquid can cause the pastry cream to thin out, while adding too much zest or spices can overpower the cream and make it bitter or sandy in texture.

Storage and Serving Suggestions

Pastry cream can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To prevent a skin from forming on top, cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure that it touches the cream. It’s best to use the cream chilled; take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before using it in your dessert recipe.

Pastry cream can be used in many desserts; some popular ones include éclairs, cream puffs, and fruit tarts. You can also use it as a filling in cakes or spread it over Danish pastries. However, if you’re looking to serve it as a standalone dessert, you can make individual ramekins or custard cups and top it off with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Now that you have these tips and tricks, making the perfect pastry cream every time should be easy. With practice and creativity, you can take your pastry cream up a notch and create endless desserts that will keep your family and friends coming back for more.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Making Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is an essential part of many classic dessert recipes, from eclairs to fruit tarts. However, making pastry cream can be a tricky process, with many pitfalls to avoid. Here are some common mistakes you might encounter when making pastry cream, and how to avoid them.

Not Tempering the Eggs

One of the most important steps in making pastry cream is tempering the eggs. This involves slowly adding hot liquid to the egg mixture while stirring constantly, to bring the eggs up to temperature without cooking them. If you add hot liquid too quickly, or stop stirring, the eggs can curdle and your pastry cream will be ruined.

To temper eggs for pastry cream, start by whisking together your egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl. In a separate saucepan, heat your milk or cream until it’s just simmering. Slowly pour a small amount of the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to add the hot liquid, a little at a time, until about half the liquid has been added. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot liquid and continue to cook until thickened.

Not Cooking the Pastry Cream Long Enough

Cooking pastry cream for the correct amount of time is crucial for achieving the right texture and consistency. If you don’t cook it long enough, the cream will be runny and won’t set properly. However, if you overcook it, the cream can curdle or get lumpy.

The key to cooking pastry cream is to keep stirring it constantly while it’s on the heat. This will prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. You’ll know your pastry cream is ready when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and a line drawn through it with your finger stays in place.

Adding Cold Butter to Hot Pastry Cream

Adding butter to pastry cream is a great way to give it a rich, silky texture. However, it’s important to add the butter correctly, otherwise you can end up with a lumpy, greasy mess.

The key is to let your butter come to room temperature before you add it to the pastry cream. If you add cold butter to hot pastry cream, the butter will clump up and create a lumpy texture. Once your butter is at room temperature, cut it into small pieces and gradually add them to the pastry cream, stirring constantly until the butter is fully incorporated.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to making perfect pastry cream every time.

Happy Baking!

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of this pastry cream recipe article! We hope you found this recipe easy to follow and the information helpful. We know how important it is to have a good pastry cream recipe in your baking arsenal, and we hope this one has become a staple for you.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first batch doesn’t turn out exactly as you wanted. Keep trying and experimenting until you get the perfect consistency and flavor. We believe in you!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found it informative and entertaining. If you have any questions or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to contact us. Don’t forget to check back later for more delicious recipes and helpful baking tips. Happy baking!


Q: Can I freeze pastry cream?

A: Yes, pastry cream can be frozen. Make sure to store it in an airtight container and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Q: Is pastry cream the same as custard?

A: Pastry cream is a type of custard, but it is thicker and richer than traditional custard.

Q: Can I use skim milk instead of whole milk in pastry cream?

A: You can use skim milk, but the pastry cream may be thinner and less rich than it would be if you used whole milk.

Q: Can I use almond milk instead of regular milk?

A: Yes, you can use almond milk, but the pastry cream may have a slightly different flavor and consistency than if you used regular milk.

Q: How long does pastry cream last in the fridge?

A: Homemade pastry cream can last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Q: Can I add flavors to pastry cream?

A: Yes, you can add flavors such as vanilla extract, chocolate, or fruit puree to pastry cream to customize the flavor to your liking.

Q: Can I use pastry cream in a cake?

A: Yes, pastry cream can be used as a filling in cakes, eclairs, cream puffs, and other desserts.

Q: What is the difference between pastry cream and whipped cream?

A: Pastry cream is a thick, custard-like filling, while whipped cream is a light, fluffy topping or filling made from heavy cream that is whipped until stiff peaks form.

Q: Can I use pastry cream as a frosting?

A: Pastry cream is not recommended as a frosting for cakes because it is not stable at room temperature and may melt or separate.

Q: Can I double this recipe?

A: Yes, you can double or even triple this recipe to make a larger batch of pastry cream.

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About the Author: David Dunlap

Worked in restaurants for years before turning to food writing and has won multiple awards for the work, including more than a dozen awards.

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