Baking Basics: Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)

This section of the blog is dedicated to basic baking techniques that are useful to know and are, at the same time, suitable for home baking. This post shall give you some hints and ideas on how to realize a great-tasting and well-executed crème pâtissière (pastry cream). Crème pâtissière is one of the most basic fillings in pâtisserie. It’s used in specific recipes such as in mille-feuille or éclairs, and is also a fantastic base for all types of fruit cakes and tarts. Further, it is the base for a number of derivatives, such as crème frangipane, crème diplomate, crème mousseline or crème chiboust.

Crème pâtissière is prepared on the basis of milk and egg yolk which is thickened over heat. Vanilla is used as flavouring. To get it right, it takes a bit of practice but it is ultimately not highly complicated. It is important to note that crème pâtissière needs to be thick enough in order for your cake not to disintegrate when cut (which, of course, has happened to me and more than once), i.e. it is a lot thicker than, e.g., a dessert cream. So do not panic to early when the mixture starts thickening and carry on as described below! 🙂

The proportions are sufficient to provide a base layer for a Ø 28cm tart.

Sanni

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Equipment:

  • Egg whisk (I use an electric hand mixer with a balloon whisk)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Small sharp kitchen knife
  • Saucepan
  • Shallow bowl
  • Cellophane

Ingredients (for 320 grams of cream):

  • 40 grams of egg yolk (approximately 2 egg yolks)
  • 48 grams of sugar
  • 200 grams of milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 20 grams of Maïzena (corn starch)
  • 20 grams of butter

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Preparation:

  1. Use the egg whisk to beat the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl until very light and creamy.
  2. Add the Maïzena and carefully mix until smooth.
  3. Pour the milk into the saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back side of the knife. Add to the milk.
  4. On medium to high heat, bring the milk to the boil.
  5. Take off the heat and pour half of the hot milk over the egg, sugar and Maïzena mix. Immediately start beating vigorously with the egg whisk to mix. Beating the mixture is important from this point onwards to prevent the egg from cooking.
  6. Once the milk and egg is well mixed, pour the mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk, and put back on the heat. Keep beating vigorously.
  7. Bring the mixture to the boil while continuously beating it. The temperature should be between medium and high. Start with a lower temperature if you are not sure. Gradually increase should it not suffice to allow the mixture to thicken (should not take longer than a few minutes).
  8. Once the mixture thickens, keep beating it and count down 35 seconds (3 minutes per 1 litre of milk) once bubbles form (this is important to obtain the right thickness and also to neutralize the taste of starch).
  9. Take off the heat and incorporate the butter (continue to beat well).
  10. Quickly transfer the cream into a shallow bowl and cover with cellophane. The cellophane must be directly on top of (i.e. touch) the cream and cover it completely in order to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate immediately.
  11. The cream may be used once completely refrigerated, and it keeps for up to 3 days. In order to use it, remove the cellophane and vigorously beat the cream once again until smooth.

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