Pastry Cream - Crème Pâtissière - is a rich, easy to make custard filling for your cakes, doughnuts, & other pastries. Here's how to make it!
Today, I’m going to show you how to make your own pastry cream, sharing my easy pastry cream recipe.
It’s one of the foundational things you learn in pastry school, but you definitely do NOT need to attend any sort of culinary school to pull off the silky texture for this “mother of all creams”.
This easy recipe doesn’t require much in terms of either ingredients or effort, with the cooking process basically taking a couple of minutes.
The hardest thing is waiting for the custard to cool, so you can use the finished product!
Uses for Creme Patissiere
The pudding-like consistency of this creamy custard lends itself to a wide variety of pastries and other uses.
For one, it’s one of my favourite ways to fill choux pastry, such as my traditional recipes for :
It’s also a great layer cake filling, notably in Boston cream pie. For that matter, you can use it to make actual cream pies!
This is the perfect pastry cream to use in fruit tarts - whether individual, or as one large fresh fruit tart.
Spread it between layers of crepe cake, or just enjoy the creamy texture of this thick custard as a pudding.
It’s a really versatile cream - no wonder it’s such a staple of pastry kitchens!
This custard recipe uses only 5 simple ingredients for the base, plus whatever you’d like to flavour it with.
It’s a basic custard - a mixture of milk, thickeners, sweetener, and butter.
Egg Yolks & Corn Starch
Egg is probably the most
I use egg yolks - rather than whole eggs - as I find it gives a better texture that way.
Eggs are an important component of the recipe - they add fat, richness, and thickening.
That thickening quality is supported with the addition of a little cornstarch.
Realistically, you can use any kind of milk you like for this.
2 % or whole milk are pretty standard bases, I usually make this with unsweetened almond milk.
You can even use coconut milk, if you like. Just use whatever you have on hand, that tastes good and suits your needs!
Finishing out the base of this recipe, you’ll also need sugar - just plain granulated sugar - as well as butter.
From there, it’s just a matter of flavouring... which really needs its own section:
Pastry Cream Variations
As written, this pastry cream recipe doesn’t have flavouring added. There are so many different things you can use to flavor it, and different methods - it really does deserve its own section.
AT the very least, you’ll want to add some form of vanilla... but there are also a bunch of other ways that you can customize the flavours.
Here are just a few basic ways to flavour your pastry cream:
Vanilla Pastry Cream
Vanilla is basically the default flavour for pastry cream out in the wild, and there are a number of ways that you can use vanilla in your pastry cream:
1. Vanilla extract: Add 2-3 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract to the pastry cream mixture AFTER you’ve taken it off the burner for the last time.
2. Vanilla bean paste: Add 2 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste to the milk, before you start heating it up.
3. Vanilla Pod: Cut 1 or 2 Vanilla Beans in half, lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla seeds into your milk - before heating it up - and toss the beans in there as well. Before pouring the egg mixture into the pot, remove the vanilla pod(s) from the milk.
Flavour Extracts & Oils
You can add 1-2 teaspoon of your favourite flavour extract to the final mixture - after removing it from the heat for the last time.
Rum Extract is particularly nice with chocolate, but don’t stop there!
There are all KINDS of extracts on the market these days, any of which can be a fantastic way to flavour your Crème Pâtissière .
Some options include:
Note: When it comes to anise or mint extract, it’s a good idea to start out with a conservative amount. Those flavours tends to come off stronger than the rest, and it’s easy to overpower your pastry cream if you use too much!
When it comes to using Lorann Flavor Oils, you’ll use them in the same way - after you’re done cooking it - you’re just going to use a lot less of it.
Start with ¼ teaspoon of flavor oil, add a little more if you like.
Finally, Fiori di Sicilia - an Italian flavour product, sort of a mix of citrus and vanilla - is a fantastic way to flavour your cream.
It’s stronger than regular flavor extracts, so start with ½ tsp, and add more if you like.
Coffee Pastry Cream
You can make a coffee flavored pastry cream in a few different ways:
1. Add 1 - 2 tablespoon Instant Coffee to the hot milk, allowing it to fully dissolve before adding it to the egg mixture.
2. Instead of milk, use ½ cup brewed coffee and ½ cup heavy cream.
3. Boil some coffee beans in the milk - usually ¼ cup worth or so, and a bit more milk than called for.. Once it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
Strain out the coffee beans, measure your milk, and top it up with additional milk if needed. (You can lose some milk volume to the beans).
Re-boil the milk before adding it to the egg mixture.
To flavour your pastry cream with a cream based liqueur, simply replace half of the milk with your cream liqueur of choice.
Some liqueurs that make fantastic pastry cream flavors:
Baja Luna / Baja Rosa / Baja Tango
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Godiva Cream Liqueur
Starbucks Cream Liqueur
Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream
Non-Cream Liqueurs & Spirits
When using a liqueur that is not cream based, I like to replace up to half of the milk with the liqueur, and ¼ of the milk with heavy cream. That is to say: ½ cup liqueur, ¼ cup heavy cream, ¼ cup milk.
Some liqueurs that work well:
Creme De Banane
Creme De Menthe
Want to use rum, whisky, etc?
Use up to ¼ cup of it, in place of the same amount of milk.
How to Make Pastry Cream
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is a pictorial walk through.
In a large bowl, whisk yolks together with sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add cornstarch, whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
Measure about ¼ cup (50 ml) of the hot milk mixture, and stream slowly into egg mixture while whisking.
Continue a thin stream of the hot liquid and whisking until it is completely incorporated, and mixture is smooth.
Repeat with another ¼ cup (50 ml) of hot liquid.
Once fully incorporated and smooth, return to heat. Turn heat down to low.
Continue whisking mixture constantly, cooking until mixture is very thick.
Remove from heat, add butter, and give it a good whisk until fully incorporated and smooth.
For Extra Smooth Pastry Cream
If you’d like, you can press the still hot pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve, into a separate bowl. (A medium bowl works fine for this).
This step is optional, but will strain out / break up any lumps that may have formed in your pastry cream.
For reference, I didn’t strain the pastry cream in the batch I made for this post.
More Fancy Recipes
Planning for a special dinner, whether Valentine’s Day, a special date, or a fancy dinner party? Here are a few recipes to consider!
Balsamic Mushroom Baked Brie
Chocolate Dessert Ravioli
Clementine Mousse with ChampagneFancy Tea Sandwiches
How to Make Cream Puffs and Croquembouche
Mushroom Brie Turnovers
Mushroom & Goat Cheese Braid with Balsamic Glaze
Pepper Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Phyllo Crab Triangles
Savoury Tomato Shortcake
Shrimp & Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
Traditional Raspberry Mousse
White Chocolate Almond Amaretto Truffles
Wild Rice Stuffed Chicken Breast with Dijon Chive Cream Sauce
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- 3 Large egg yolks
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 cup Milk
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- Flavouring of choice See post for information
- Whisk yolks together with sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add cornstarch, whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring milk to a light boil.
- Measure about ¼ cup (50 ml) of the hot milk mixture, and stream slowly into egg mixture while whisking. Continue streaming liquid and whisking until it is completely incorporated, and mixture is smooth.
- Repeat with another ¼ cup (50 ml) of hot liquid.
- Remove saucepan from heat, pour egg mixture into milk mixture, whisking constantly.
- Once fully incorporated and smooth, return to heat. Turn heat down to low.
- Continue whisking mixture constantly, cooking until mixture is very thick.
- Remove from heat, whisk in butter until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap, chill until needed.