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Pastry Cream

Author: Sue Gray, entered by Susan Reid

Pastry Cream Recipe Pastry Cream Recipe

This rich, creamy filling, while delicious as is, can also be flavored in an almost infinite number of ways to create the perfect complement to your cake, pie, or pastry. Make sure you have all of your ingredients and equipment on hand before you begin; once the egg yolks begin to cook, they won't wait for you to find your strainer! This base recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar, which makes a filling that's just barely sweet. If you're planning to use it for a pie filling and you want it to be sweeter, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup.

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At a glance

Prep
Total
Yield
3 cups; 5 cups with the optional whipped cream
Nutrition information

Ingredients

Choose your measure:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; or 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks; optional, for a softer filling

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, salt, and the vanilla bean. (If you're using vanilla extract or Vanilla Crush, add it at the end.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk.
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine strainer into a bowl set in an ice bath. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract (if you're using it). If you're going to flavor the pastry cream with chocolate or some other flavor, this is the time to do it (see variations below).
  6. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool.
  7. Use chilled pastry cream as is for a sliceable cream pie, or a stiff filling for éclairs. Fold in the optional whipped cream, just before using, for a softer filling.
  8. Pastry cream will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. After that it may start to weep.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1/2 cup, 125 g
  • Servings Per Batch 10
Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories 245
  • Calories from Fat 159
  • Total Fat 18g
  • Saturated Fat 11g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 139mg
  • Sodium 109mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 18g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 14g
  • Protein 4g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.