Pastry cream is indispensable in the pastry kitchen — it can be used to fill puffs, eclairs, used as a filling in cakes and tarts, and be transformed into creme mousseline or creme chibouste. Make sure you have everything ready and set your work station up properly and you will produce perfect pastry cream every time!
by volume by weight
4 cups whole milk 896 grams whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla 4 grams vanilla
7½ tablespoons cornstarch 70 grams cornstarch
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar 227 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 2 grams salt
3 eggs 204 grams of eggs
6 tablespoons butter 84 grams butter
Combine half of the sugar and cornstarch and whisk to break up any lumps of cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
Add eggs one at a time and whisk so the mixture is smooth.
Bring milk and remaining sugar to a gentle boil.
Whisk half of the hot milk mixture into the egg and cornstarch mixture.
Whisk this back into the hot milk in the pan and return to the stove.
Bring this mixture to a boil while whisking constantly and boil and whisk for one minute. (It is important to boil and whisk for a full minute to cook the cornstarch. If you don’t, the cornstarch will give the pastry cream a gritty feel in your mouth because it has not absorbed as much liquid as it possibly can.) The pastry cream will thicken to the consistency of pudding and will almost hold it’s shape on a spoon.
Remove from the heat, add vanilla and butter and whisk until completely smooth. If your pastry cream doesn’t seem completely smooth you can strain it but if you have whisked vigorously during the cooking process that shouldn’t be necessary!
The pastry cream should cool completely before it is used. Pour it into a bowl or storage container and press a piece of plastic wrap evenly on the surface of the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate until cold. As the pastry cream cools it will set and become much more firm. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
There is no end to the variety of options for flavoring pastry cream. Chocolate, coffee, raspberry, lemon, praline – you are only limited by your imagination. As this blog progresses and we use some of these different varieties, I will link to them here.