In this post I am sharing with you the detailed step by step recipe of “crème patissière”, or pastry cream. It is a French custard, very creamy and rich, thickened with egg yolks (even though some recipes use whole eggs) and corn starch and/or flour. It is used to stuff eclairs or choux or mille-feuilles, or as a base for other recipes like frangipane, crème diplomâte, crème Chiboust…
- Mixing bowl
- Cling wrap
- 400 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 1 piece Vanilla bean Split and scraped
- 80 g Egg yolks Approx. the yolks of 4 large eggs
- 40 g White sugar
- 15 g Corn starch
- 15 g Flour
- 25 g Butter
- Split the vanilla bean and scrap it.
- Heat the milk with the vanilla, just bring to simmer.
- Cover and let the vanilla infuse for 10 minutes.
- Reheat the milk (stop as soon as it starts boiling).
- Whisk energetically the sugar with the egg yolks until light and creamy.
- Add the corn starch and sifted flour and combine.
- Add 1/3 of the hot milk to the yolks mix and whisk until homogeneous.
- Transfer this mixture in the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk.
- Simmer over medium heat whitout stopping whisking. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, continue cooking for almost 1 minute.
- As soon as it has the right texture (thick and creamy) transfer the cream into a mixing bowl to stop the cooking.
- When the temperature of the cream is around 65°C, add the butter and whisk energetically until getting a smooth texture.
- If you wish to add any paste or praliné (chestnut, pistachio, hazelnut, black sesame....), you can do it at this stage. Stir until combined.
- Cover with the cling wrap directly on the surface and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
In this recipe I chose to use a mix of flour and corn starch as thickeners. You can use one or the other as both have starch. A pastry cream prepared with flour only will have a light color, a thick and a bit dense texture. A pastry cream prepared with corn starch only will have a yellowish color, a light and silky texture, but can be a bit sticky. I chose to mix both to benefit from the strengths of each of them. If you want to replace one by the other, you need to respect the following ratio: one portion of starch for two portions of flour. For example: if you have a recipe requiring 20gr of flour, you can replace it with 10gr of corn starch.
You can use low fat milk to prepare the cream, it will still thicken, but the texture will be less creamy.
It’s important to bring the cream to the boiling point and continue cooking it for one additional minute (even if it seems thick enough). This allows to deactivate the enzyme found in the egg yolks called “amylase”, otherwise this enzyme will attack the starch molecules and the cream may become watery a few hours later.
Do not add the butter when the cream is too hot, otherwise it will melt quickly and the cream will be too oily.
Do not mix the cream to cool it, otherwise it will become liquid. Just cover it with the cling wrap and let it cool.
If you wish to add a flavor to your cream, you can infuse in the milk (instead of the vanilla bean) tea leaves (but just for a couple of minutes otherwise it will become bitter), coffee beans, citrus zests, Tonka bean, coconut… Or you can add plain pistachio paste, or chestnut paste…
You can use the crème pâtissière as a base to prepare:
– Diplomat cream: by adding whipped cream and gelatin
– Chiboust cream: by adding egg whites “Italian” meringue (made with cooked sugar syrip)
– Mousseline cream: by adding soft butter
– Frangipane cream: by adding almond cream
– Chocolate cream: by adding chocolate ganache