Home · Baking Basics Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière) Author: Maryanne CabreraPublished: Oct 6, 2023 View Recipe2 ReviewsThis post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy. Sweet and simple pastry cream is classic recipe everyone should know how to make from scratch! Easily customize this base recipe with your choice of flavors or spices. ContentsWhat is Pastry Cream?Crème Pâtissière versus Crème AnglaisIngredientsImportant Tips Before StartingCooking InstructionsQuickly Cool Pastry Cream in FreezerHow to Revive Chilled Pastry CreamCustomize with Flavor VariationsRecipes to Make with Pastry Cream What is Pastry Cream? Pastry cream, or crème pâtissière in French, is a smooth, silky cooked custard. It may be flavored with vanilla, chocolate, fruit purees, or liquors. You can steep tea leaves or spices into the milk to further enhance flavors. This versatile bakery staple is used to fill eclairs, cream puffs (profiteroles), or doughnuts. It is used for filling fruit tarts or it can serve as an ice cream base. It serves as the base component for diplomat cream (crème diplomat). Made from equal parts pastry cream and whipped cream often stabilized with gelatin. Crème Pâtissière versus Crème Anglais What’s the difference between these two? They share similar ingredients. The biggest distinguisher: pastry cream (crème pâtissière) is thickened with cornstarch. Pastry cream is thick and scoop-able. Whereas, crème anglais is thin and pourable. Also known as vanilla sauce, crème anglais is a classic French custard sauce. Serve it warm or chilled. It is also used as an ice cream base. Crème anglais also serves as the base component for Bavarian cream (crème bavarois). It is a chilled custard composed of crème anglais, whipped cream, and gelatin. Ingredients Whole Milk : Use whole milk for best results. Or, you may use a combination of heavy cream and 2% reduced fat milk. The fresher the milk, the better! Egg Yolks : This recipe uses large egg yolks, which range from 14 to 18 grams each. Hen’s diet determine the yolk color. The yolk color will determine the final color of the cooked cream. This is an important ingredient that provides flavor and structural support (through lecithin). Sugar : Play around with sugar! This recipe works well with granulated white sugar or brown sugar. Different varieties of brown sugar (light, dark, muscovado) will affect the final color and flavor of the cooked cream. Butter : Use either unsalted or salted butter. Add butter after the cream is cooked to slightly loosens the mixture. Salt : Omit if you use salted butter. A small amount of salt does wonders in bringing out sweet flavors. It adds balance and dimension to foods. For best results, use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Vanilla : Use high quality pure vanilla extract. Or, better yet, scrap out a vanilla bean! Vanilla bean paste is another great option. Scroll down further for other flavoring options. Cornstarch : A powder derived from finely ground cornmeal. Cornstarch thickens custards, fruit fillings, and sauces. Fully cook (boil out) cornstarch to ward off unpleasant starchy taste. Labeled as cornflour outside of the United States. Important Tips Before Starting Use a stainless steel sauce pan or pot to cook the pastry cream. Do not use an aluminum pan. The aluminum pan will react with the cooked cream causing it to turn slightly green or gray in color. Cook egg based recipes “low and slow.” This is to prevent the eggs from curdling. But, also to prevent unwanted “eggy” flavor that comes from high heat. Have your mis en place ready! French for “everything in its place.” This means have all your ingredients portioned out and your all tools/equipment ready before you begin. Pastry cream cooks very quickly and it can burn! Cooking Instructions Prep: Line a half-sheet baking pan (9×13-inch pan) with plastic wrap. Make sure to cover up the sides of the pan as well. Set aside. Whisk together cornstarch and half of sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and about 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk until smooth. There shouldn’t be any visible lumps. Set aside. Pour remaining milk and remaining sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pot or sauce pan. Equipment Set Up: Have the pot over the stove, the egg mixture nearby along with a whisk and ladle. Focus on this one task. Do not try to multitask while cooking this. Bring mixture to a boil. Tempering the Eggs: Egg mixture is cold. Milk mixture is hot. “Tempering eggs” is the process of combining two different temperatures in a slow dilution. Mix a small amount of hot milk into the cold eggs and whisk constantly to distribute heat. Continue this process to gradually increase the temperature of the egg mixture. Why is temper? Tempering prevents the eggs from scrambling or curdling. Pour all the egg-milk mixture back into the sauce pot. Set over medium heat. At this point, the mixture will bit a little foamy with bubbles on the surface. Switch to a spatula and constantly stir mixture. Pay attention of the edges of the pot, that’s where the cream is most likely to burn. Keep stirring as the mixture thickens. Let it come to boil to cook out the cornstarch flavor. Stir while it boils for about 15 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and salt until smooth. The mixture will slightly loosen. Stir in vanilla extract. It’s best to add vanilla at the end to prevent the vanilla flavor from cooking out. Mix until well combined. Quickly Cool Pastry Cream in Freezer The hot pastry cream needs to cooled immediately! This is for two reasons: 1) it will thicken to it’s proper texture as it cools and 2) cool down the cream ASAP to inhibit the growth of bacteria. There are two ways to cool the cream down. Traditionally, it is cooled using an ice water bath. The method is effective, but quite wasteful. This method was highly frowned upon by restaurants I worked at. Not everyone has access to lots of ice. Second method that I high recommended- quickly chill shock the cream using the freezer. Pour pastry cream into the plastic wrap prepared baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Pop in the freezer for 15 minutes until cream has cooled to room temperature. Remove from freezer and transfer pastry cream into an airtight container. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to use. Warning: Do not leave the pastry cream in the freezer for longer than 30 minutes. If the pastry cream freezes solid, the mixture will weep and separate. You’ll end up with broken pastry cream. How to Revive Chilled Pastry Cream Remove from fridge. Place in a large mixing bowl. The pastry cream will mold to the form of the container. That’s okay! Loosen the chilled pastry cream using a sturdy whisk. Or, place in a stand mixer and beat with whisk or paddle attachment. (Also works with beaters of an electric hand mixer.) Beat until smooth and creamy. Now it’s ready to use! Customize with Flavor Variations There are two ways to add flavor to pastry cream. First method: simply add it with the ingredients. This works with ingredients that are mixable such as vanilla bean pod scrapings, extracts (vanilla, almond, etc), or melted chocolate. Sifted matcha powder is added to the cooked cream for these matcha cream puffs. Second method: steep the ingredient in the milk before cooking the cream. These blood orange earl grey tarts are filled with earl grey pastry cream. Earl grey tea is steeped in hot milk ahead of time to extract flavor. This method works with teas (loose or bagged) and whole spices (such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise). Recipes to Make with Pastry Cream You’ve done it! You’ve made homemade crème pâtissière from scratch! At this point, you could simply eat the pastry cream with a spoon. Serve it with some fruit and call it a day. Or, you use it to fill cream doughnuts or as filling for gâteau de crêpe (crepe cake). Better yet, use of the following recipes highlighted below! Option OneFresh Strawberry TartHomemade strawberry tart features a crunchy sweet shortbread crust filled with vanilla pastry cream topped with fresh strawberries. Makes one large 9-inch tart or several small 5-inch tarts. Recipe Here Option TwoBanana Cream CakeFour layers of banana cake sandwiched with fresh banana slices, vanilla pastry cream, and Swiss buttercream. A versatile cake to make all year around! Recipe Here Option ThreeMatcha Cream PuffsCream puffs filled with matcha pastry cream and dusted with matcha powdered sugar. It’s best to eat them fresh the same day they are assembled. Recipe Here Option FourBanana Cream ParfaitQuick and easy layered dessert made with your choice of cookies (biscuits or crackers), fresh banana slices, vanilla pastry cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream. Recipe Here Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière) 4 from 1 vote Sweet and simple pastry cream is classic recipe everyone should know how to make from scratch! Easily customize this base recipe with your choice of flavors or spices. Yield: about 2 ½ cups Prep Time: 10 minutes minutesCook Time: 5 minutes minutesChill Time: 15 minutes minutesTotal Time: 30 minutes minutes Servings: 6 Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe Ingredients¼ cup cornstarch (30 g)¾ cup granulated sugar (150 g), divided4 large egg yolks2 cup whole milk (475 ml or 454 g)2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (28 g)¼ teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt*2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Instructions Line a half-sheet baking pan with plastic wrap, ensuring the sides of the pan are also covered. Set aside.In a large bowl, whisk together cornstarch and about ½ cup of sugar. Add in egg yolks and about ½ cup of milk. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.Pour remaining milk into a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Add remaining sugar. Set over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to ensure the milk does not burn along the sides or bottom of the pan.When the milk has boiled, slowly add about ¼ cup of hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk constantly to distribute the heat. Continue to pour more milk until a couple tablespoons are left in the saucepan. Then pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.Reduce to medium heat. Switch to a spatula. Stir constantly until the custard has thickened. To cook the cornstarch out, heat the custard until it boils for about 10-15 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and salt until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir until well combined. Pour pastry cream into a plastic wrapped sheet pan. Spread evenly. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes* until pastry cream has cooled to room temperature.Remove from freezer. Transfer to another container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to use. Revive Chilled Pastry Cream:Remove from fridge. Place in a large mixing bowl Loosen the chilled pastry cream using a sturdy whisk. Or, place in a stand mixer and beat with whisk or paddle attachment. (Also works with beaters of an electric hand mixer.) Beat until smooth and creamy. NotesIngredients: Eggs: Hen’s diet determine the yolk color. The yolk color will determine the final color of the cooked cream. Sugar: Play around with sugar! This recipe works well with granulated white sugar or brown sugar. Different varieties of brown sugar (light, dark, muscovado) will affect the final color and flavor of the cooked cream. Equipment: Use a stainless steel sauce pan or pot to cook the pastry cream. Do not use an aluminum pan. The aluminum pan will react with the cooked cream causing it to turn slightly green or gray in color. Storage: Pastry cream may be made in advance. It will keep in the fridge for up to three days. However, over time, the cornstarch will weep and the pastry cream will separate. *Warning: Do not leave the pastry cream in the freezer for longer than 30 minutes. If the pastry cream freezes solid, the mixture will weep and separate. You’ll end up with broken pastry cream. NutritionCalories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 0.05g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 421IU | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 0.4mg Author: Maryanne Cabrera Course: DessertCuisine: French, AmericanKeyword: pastry cream, vanilla cream, creme patissiere, custard Did you make this recipe?Show us on Instagram! Tag @littleepicurean and hashtag #littleepicurean.