Today, I am sharing how to make perfect pastry cream from scratch. Yes, super creamy, rich & shiny pastry cream! Some of you might call it custard, custard cream, crème pâtissière, French pastry cream, etc.
Mastering how to make pastry cream spreads more potential for you to make a variety of desserts; such as fraisier, cream puff, eclairs, fruit tart, custard pie, etc!
In this post, I am explaining all the crucial tips in detail so that you can successfully make the amazing pastry cream at home. So let's dive in!
📌 What's In Pastry Cream?
- Whole Milk
- Use full-fat whole milk.
- Vanilla Beans
- I highly recommend using vanilla beans for its incredible flavor. My favorite kind is Madagascar vanilla beans.
- Granulated Sugar
- Sugar is necessary to make smooth and shiny pastry cream.
- Egg Yolks
- It helps to thicken the cream and add rich flavor.
- It helps to thicken the cream as well. It gives a light, slightly jelly-like texture.
- All-purpose flour
- It also helps to thicken the cream. Compared to corn starch, it gives a chinkier, heavier texture. I often like to blend cornstarch and all-purpose flour.
- It adds more depth in flavor.
- Butter (Unsalted)
- It is optional. It adds richness in flavor and thickens the cream slightly more.
📍 The printable recipe with instructions is at the very end of this post.Jump to Recipe
📌 Frequently Asked Questions
That can happen when:
* The flour was not mixed well before adding hot milk.
* When you mix it as you heat:
1. The speed was too slow.
2. It was not mixed evenly. or
3. It was not mixed constantly. , etc.
You can store it in an air-tight container in a fridge for up to 5 days.
Use it within 1-2 days for the best taste.
It happens most frequently when the starch in the flour or yolks was not cooked enough. So try cooking longer next time!
Yes, you can! Emulsify it with a hand blender before freezing it while it's still hot/warm. By doing it, the pastry cream stays nice and creamy even after it's defrosted.
📌 How To Make Pastry Cream
Step 1: Heat milk, vanilla, and half of the sugar in a pot.
First, add milk to a pot.
And add vanilla beans as well. Scrape off the beans using a petty knife. I like to add the pod as well since it contains a lot of flavors also.
Vanilla beans make the best pastry cream with an amazing flavor. I like Madagascar vanilla beans for the sweet, bourbon smells that match so well with all the other ingredients.
You can also use vanilla extract instead as an alternative.
Next, add about half of the sugar to the pot. We save the rest to add to yolks later. It doesn't have to be precise, just "about" half is fine! Set it aside the rest, we are adding in yolks later.
I like to add half of the sugar to a pot because sugar does a fine role to prevent milk from forming a skin on the surface too quickly.
But it is not a crucial step. You can add all the sugar to yolks and can still make pastry cream successful.
Now, heat the pot at medium heat!
Continue heating it until the milk starts simmering.
Milk boils out suddenly once it reaches a certain temperature, so check more frequently toward the end! I made a mess on my stove SO many times in the past during this process by not watching it closely and ended up measuring milk again...!!
Step 2: Mix yolks, the rest of the sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl.
Now, while you are heating the pot, it is a good time to work on the yolk mixture.
First, add yolks to a bowl.
You can technically make pastry cream with whole eggs BUT it won't be as rich as the one with only yolks. It makes a huge difference.
Save the egg white to make other desserts such as macarons, meringue cookies, Swiss buttercream, etc!
Next, add granulated sugar to it and mix right away with a whisk.
It is very important to mix it right away because once the sugar touches the surface of the yolks, it soaks up the moisture and creates small lamps. You can avoid that by mixing them right away. - Or you can also mix yolks first before adding sugar which helps a little bit!
Next, add a pinch of salt.
And continue mixing until it looks paler like in the photo below:
When the color gets pale, that means it contains more air in it. And the air helps to deliver the heat more mildly when you add the hot simmering milk to it. When the mixture does not contain air, the yolks touch the hot milk more directly and can cook it partially.
Once yolk and sugar are mixed, add flour and mix well.
The pastry cream can get lumpy when you do not mix them enough in this process. So mix well until it looks nice and smooth.
Don't forget to scrape off the side and bottom to create an even mixture!
I forgot to add flour MANY times in the past before adding milk. (Without flour, you'll make Anglaise sauce basically!) Again, I can warm you that from my experience (Or maybe I'm just so forgetful!)
Step 3: Combine the milk and yolk mixture.
Ideally, you want the milk to start simmering right after the yolk mixture is done. Start heating the milk with your timing.
Once the milk starts simmering, it boils out in a short time. So be careful, turn off the heat right after it's done.
Add a small amount of milk first and mix until it gets even.
And add the rest, dividing it into a few more times.
Do not add all the milk at once because the hot milk can cook the egg partially.
Scrape off the side and bottom well to make an even mixture.
Step 4: Heat the mixture over mixing.
Now pour all the mixture into a pot.
And heat it at medium heat over mixing constantly. You can use either a spatula or a whisk.
When you mix, keep in mind to mix:
It is very important so that... :
- The bottom is not getting burned.
- The pastry cream is not getting lumpy.
Once you feel the mixture starts getting thick slightly, it gets a lot thicker very quickly.
This is the MOST important time to make smooth pastry cream.
If you mix slowly, unevenly, and inconstantly at this point, the pastry cream can get burnt and get lumpy. So don't stop and keep mixing!
A Tip for Beginners
When you find it difficult or when you want to make smooth pastry cream a little bit easier, try this:
- Remove it from the heat for a second when it started getting thick very slightly.
- Mix fast until it gets smooth.
- And put it back in the heat to cook more.
You can succeed better in this way even if when you can not perfectly mix yet. I still do this way when I want to make it with less sweat and stress (which is most of the time!)
As you continue heating (still at medium heat), the mixture starts boiling and you'll see it gets very thick like in the photo below:
A lot of people stop at this point as soon as it started boiling but it is not done yet!
Continue heating over mixing (Usually another 30 - 45 seconds with one batch) until it gets slightly looser and shinier like in the photo below.
This means that the starch in the flour is cooked enough. By doing that, you can create a thick pastry cream, not a loose one.
It might be hard to see the difference between the photos but you'll feel/see it as you pay close attention. Watch my video tutorial to see the transformation.
Also, I recommend using a stainless pan when you use a whisk to mix. With a non-stick pan, the coating can peel off as you mix with it.
Step 5 (Optional): Add butter.
Once it's heated enough, remove it from the heat and add butter. And mix and melt it completely.
Adding butter is optional. By adding it, the pastry cream gets:
You can omit it if you prefer softer pastry cream. (Or add less amount.)
Step 6: Strain it.
Once the butter is mixed evenly, strain the cream.
By doing that, you can discard:
- vanilla pod and the broken pieces.
- partially cooked eggs if there are any.
Step 7 (Optional): Emulsify it with a hand blender
Emulsifying the pastry cream with a hand blender makes it extra creamy and smooth. This is the step some pastry chefs take. You can really taste and see the difference by doing it!
It is optional but I highly recommend doing it if you want to make the very best pastry cream EVER.
Step 8: Chill it in a fridge.
Now, if you want to serve warm custard cream right away, you can. But when you need to cool it down, place a plastic wrap on top so that the cream is not touching the air.
Pastry cream gets dried easily, so make sure that the surface is covered all around.
Chill in a fridge until it cools down, usually for at least one hour.
Step 9: Mix well.
After the pastry cream is chilled completely, it gets much firmer. If the cream is kind of rubbery and comes off from the bowl easily. Don't panic, it is totally normal! That means the starch in the flour was cooked enough.
Simply mix well to bring back the smooth texture.
You can use a spatula, hand mixer, or stand mixer with a pedal.
📌 VIDEO: Pastry Cream
You can also check out the video on my YouTube channel and learn how to make the pastry cream visually which I think is very beneficial to master all the moves!
If you tried it at home and loved it, please let me know by sharing the feedback in the comment section. I also appreciate it if you can leave a review here for this recipe!
📌 Uses For Pastry Cream
The pastry cream is so shiny, smooth, and creamy... it is heavenly good! This makes a hell-a-food dessert for your next baking project.
This is the only pastry cream I use for any kind of dessert.
One of my favorite way to enjoy this pastry cream is fruit tartlets. The classic. The thin crunchy tart shell, creamy pastry cream, and juicy fruits are indescribably delicious.
In the past, I shared how to make these tartlets with a variety of fruit decorations in this video. They are filled with pastry cream and raspberry preserves.
💬 If you loved this recipe, please share your feedback on this post! I always love to hear how you enjoyed it at home with your friends and family.
📌 Printable Recipe
- Hand blender optional
- 14.1 oz Whole Milk
- Vanilla beans or ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4.2 oz Granulated sugar Save half to add in yolks
- Egg yolk
- 0.7 oz Corn starch
- 0.7 oz All-purpose flour
- 1 oz Butter
- Heat milk, vanilla, and about half of the sugar in a pot.14.1 oz Whole Milk, 4.2 oz Granulated sugar, Vanilla beans
- Mix yolks, the rest of the sugar, and salt in a bowl until it looks pale. And add flour and mix well.Egg yolk, Salt, 0.7 oz Corn starch, 0.7 oz All-purpose flour
- Combine the milk and yolk mixture:Add a small amount of milk first and mix until it gets even.And add the rest, dividing it into a few more times.
- Heat it at medium heat while mixing constantly:When you mix, keep in mind to mix: Fast, evenly, and constantly.If you mix slowly, unevenly, and inconstantly at this point, the pastry cream can get burnt and get lumpy. So don't stop and keep mixing!Once you feel the mixture starts getting thick slightly, it gets thicker really quickly. When you find it difficult or when you want to make smooth pastry cream a little bit easier, try this:1. Remove it from the heat for a second when it started getting thick very slightly.2. Mix fast until it gets smooth.3. And put it back in the heat to cook more.After it started boiling, continue heating over mixing until it gets slightly looser and shinier (Usually another 30 - 45 seconds with one batch)
- Remove from the heat and add butter. (Optional)1 oz Butter
- Strain it.
- Emulsify it with a hand blender. (Optional)
- Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge.
- Mix well until it looks smooth and shiny.
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