Basic Vanilla Pastry Cream

Basic Vanilla Pastry Cream

Details

Fill a variety of pastries and desserts with this delicious and creamy pastry cream.
  • Serves: About 4 cups
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Views: 36,396
  • Success Rating: 95% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog
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Steps

Step 1: Making the Pastry Cream

• 6 large egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 7 tbsp cornstarch
• 3 cups whole milk
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

To start the pastry cream, first secure the bowl in place, by using a damp cloth underneath the bowl. With a sturdy whisk, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cornstarch and whisk until well blended and light in color.

Heat the milk and vanilla over medium heat and bring the mixture just to the boiling point. Temper the egg mixture, by adding the hot liquid a bit at a time, while continuously whisking.

Transfer the mixture back into a clean pot over medium-low heat. At this point, it is important to whisk constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Make sure to get the whisk right into the corners of the pot so everything cooks evenly and the bottom doesn’t scorch. Once the mixture has clearly thickened and has started to bubble, whisk continuously for about another minute to cook out the cornstarch.

Pour the pastry cream into a stainless-steel bowl and place over an ice bath to cool. Stir a few times to quickly bring down the temperature and once cool, cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Place the pastry cream into the refrigerator to chill completely. Pastry cream is widely used in desserts and pastries.

Note: For a more intense vanilla flavor, the extract can be added to the pastry cream once it goes over the ice bath.

Chef's Notes

This pastry cream is quite thick, especially when chilled. To obtain a smooth texture again, simply press it through a fine mesh sieve before whisking. Pressing it through a sieve will loosen it up and make it easier to whisk.

27 Comments

  • K A
    K A
    I intend to make a millefeuille for a desert do you think this pastry cream works with the millefeuille ?? any ideas of whether should I pipe it on top of the puff pastry before or after chilling? Also does anybody here have a recipe for the frosting on top ?
  • K A
    K A
    Sorry forgot to ask can I make the millefeuille ahead of time and chill it ??
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    This pastry cream will work fine for millefeuille. The pastry cream must be chilled before placing it on the pastry; if piped on warm or hot, the pastry will become soggy. Chill it and then whisk it until smooth before piping. You can make the dessert a bit a head of time, so it chills properly, but keep in mind, the longer it is stored in the refrigerator, the softer the pastry will get. For the best results, I would assemble it and eat it within the same day. In terms of the icing, you can try following this procedure for how to make fondant. Hope this helps!
  • K A
    K A
    Thank you very much Kimberly this was really helpful .
  • Jacob V
    Jacob V
    It looks a lot like the first part could be easily done in mixer, it wouldn't make a difference, right? Also, could this be done over a double boiler? I'd hate to have my attention broken for one second and find it scorched. Or would it just take to long? Oh, and what kinds of things do you fill with this?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    I suppose you could use a mixer or a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment to do the first part. Some cooks make custards over a double boiler but they will take longer. I haven't tried this method myself with pastry cream. If you keep the heat low enough and you tend to it, you won't have any problems and it will be a lot faster. I say experiment to find which method you prefer. As for what to fill - tarts, any type of puff pastry, cakes, profiteroles...the list is endless.
  • Ben W
    Ben W
    I've been in the market for a saucier to make similar recipes. Does anyone have any idea what size saucier would work best for this recipe?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    For this recipe, I would recommend a around a 2 or 2.5 quart (8 to 10 cups) pot. Cheers!
  • Ben W
    Ben W
    Kimberly, Thanks for the suggestion. The 2qt saucier I picked up worked perfectly. I'll be using it in a Gateau Basque (fingers crossed).
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Glad to hear. Mmmmmmm - Gateau Basque. I could eat a piece right now! :)
  • Dee R
    Dee R
    Can this be used with coffee cake dough as a filling with fruit and baked?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Possibly it could be used for this but unfortunately, I am not totally familiar with "coffee cake dough" so I am not entirely sure. Perhaps someone else would have some insight for you. Cheers!
  • Caroline D
    Caroline D
    How long will the pastry cream last in the refrigerator? Also must the eggs be room temperature?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Pastry cream will last up to about four days in the refrigerator. The eggs do not need to be at room temperature to make pastry cream. Cheers!
  • Peter H
    Peter H
    I suppose the purpose of the cornstarch is to act as a thickener. Is there a way this could work without cornstarch?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You can use equal amounts of flour instead of cornstarch to make pastry cream. Some say that cornstarch give it a nicer mouth feel and shine but if you add a touch of butter at the end you will likely not even notice a difference. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Romeo G
    Romeo G
    7 tbsp or 7 tsp cuose i made this with 7 tbsp and got very thick,,,,
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    7 tablespoons is correct. This pastry cream is quite thick and is used to fill a variety of tarts and pastries. Refer to the note at the bottom of the text recipe to smooth it out when you go to use it. Cheers!
  • Ligia D
    Ligia D
    Can I use whole eggs? I saw a recipe in which cooks used whole eggs plus both flour and cornstarch...
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Pastry cream is typically made with egg yolks to enrich the custard. Egg yolks contain fat (egg whites do not contain fat). You can experiment by using recipes that contain whole eggs. The pastry cream just won't be as rich. Cheers!
  • Caroline D
    Caroline D
    may i use this as cake filling? I plan to cover the cake with fondant also I will pipe a ring of butterdream around the pastry cream thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Yes, pastry cream can be used as a layer of flavor in cakes. Cheers!
  • Alex  B
    Alex B
    have you ever made this with a non-dairy milk? What would you suggest?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You could make this non-dairy indeed. As for which non-diary milk to use, it's really up to you. Depending on what you are making, you may want to use a more neutral tasting non-diary milk. Perhaps try using something like almond milk or rice milk. You could even use a coconut milk for a non-diary alternative. Of course using a non-dairy milk will not make this a vegan pastry cream due to the eggs. Cheers!
  • Barb H
    Barb H
    Once you return the mixture to a clean pot over medium-low heat, how long does it typically take until the mixture thickens and bubbles? The handful of times I've made this it takes me around 40 minutes. Is this normal? I'm wondering if I'm whisking excessively and not allowing the mixture to heat up.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    It sounds like you do not have enough heat. It should take 5-10 minutes unless you have a huge quantity. You can do it even faster if you are experienced. Whisking doesn't actually thicken the mixture, the coagulation of the egg is what thickens. Whisking keeps the temperature even and helps maintain texture (and some air gets incorporated in it for volume). Just add more heat and watch for thickening as you whisk. ~Ken
  • Barb H
    Barb H
    Thanks Ken. I turned up the heat to medium this time and it came together in 5 minutes.

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